Reader Request: Styling Asymmetrics

How to style and wear asymmetric clothes and accessories

Reader Beth e-mailed me this question:

I’ve started branching out into asymmetric pieces. Nothing too dramatic but I often find myself unsure of what to do with them. For instance, I have a dress that has an asymmetric neckline and I love it, it’s totally my style and it’s comfy/fun to wear. But when I start looking to add accessories or a cardigan or something else, I feel like I’m not doing a great job of making the best of the asymmetry. It looks… not right. Any tips on how to integrate asymmetrical pieces into your wardrobe?

Just like Beth, I ADORE asymmetric pieces and also find them challenging to style. There are many ways in which a garment can be designed with asymmetry, so I broke my answer down into three main categories.

Asymmetric necklines

In my experience, you’ve got four options here: Leave them alone, pick the perfect complement, pretend they don’t exist, or disguise them completely.

  • If you leave an asymmetric neckline alone, you can feel free to add fun accents elsewhere: Big earrings, bracelets, interesting shoes, or a fun belt. The neckline itself is likely interesting enough that adding a necklace isn’t entirely necessary.
  • Picking the perfect necklace to fit within an asymmetric neckline is extremely challenging … but it can be done. Pendants will likely work better than strands because they will come to a point – as many asymmetric necklines do – though in some cases strands will work. If you’re wearing a piece of jewelry that fits inside the neckline, make sure it hangs naturally within the exposed neck area and doesn’t fight the neckline.
  • The “pretend they don’t exist” option boils down to wearing a much longer necklace or scarf that hangs well over the neckline itself and looks intentional. It can be tricky, for sure, but it can be done.
  • And, finally, if other aspects of the garment are what appeal for a certain outfit, you can cover an asymmetric neckline with a large scarf or cardigan.

Layering

Throwing a regular cardigan over an asymmetric piece can be tricky. Picking something that complements the arty asymmetric aesthetic like a waterfall cardigan or moto jacket might work better. Even if the outer layer masks some of the detailing of the inner, the overal feel will be more harmonious. If you’ve got an asymmetric OUTER layer, I generally advise a very plain inner layer.

Hemlines

Asymmetric hemlines are the easiest to style. Mostly, you just want to avoid putting any other obvious breaks in their way. So bare legs and pumps, sandals, flats, or other low footwear work. Tights and low footwear will also work. Doing boots with asymmetric hemlines can look amazing, but can also backfire since tall boots often cut the leg where a hemline might fall. If an outfit with an asymmetric hemline seems off, try switching up your shoes to see if that helps.

Originally posted 2013-09-24 06:13:03.

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8 Responses to “Reader Request: Styling Asymmetrics”

  1. AnaJan

    I think that jackets with mandarine collars or the ones with shirt-like collars work best with asymmetrical necklines. Much better than the ones with lapels, shawl collars and V-shaped neckline in general.
    Choker necklaces might look good with asymmetrical collars as well.

  2. Molly

    I too love asymmetry. Living in Seattle, where I’m layered up for most of the year, I try to focus on asymmetry in mid-level pieces like sweaters and skirts: You’ll never see the plainer top and leggings underneath anyway. Though I’d love a great coat with asymmetric details, it just hasn’t come my way just yet.

  3. Ruth

    I really hate asymmetric hemlines, particularly the one that ‘frame’ your knees. Granted many people have nicer knees than I have, but I don’t think I have yet met anyone whose knees are pretty enough to deserve drawing attention to. Long hem at back, short at front – hideous.
    Mind you I did once have a skirt with a ‘raw’ hem in quite a coarse weave. A friend starting pulling off the ‘loose’ threads at the bottom, until I pointed out that if she took that to its logical conclusion, I would end up with no skirt.

  4. AlsoTracy

    If you had a solid color top with the same cut as the leopard one and needed a little some “something”, I think that a brooch on the front of the left shoulder would be cute.

  5. Pam

    I’d love to raid your closet. You put together great outfits!

    P.S. Fun to see you are doing the personal shopper with Michelle!

  6. GingerR

    As someone who had breast cancer and now has an asymmetric body, I look for asymmetric tops. About half the time they’ll have coverage on the side where I want coverage — it leaves me feeling quite clever.

    This past summer I had true success with a one-shouldered swimsuit. It didn’t have that medicinal look that suits designed for breast cancer survivors sometimes do.