My friend Elyse is tall and therefore, her frame can handle larger accessories. Elyse moves in the art world and possesses an air of mystery and sometimes sly mischief, so I chose larger accessories with a artistic/global vibe that make a bit more visual impact on Elyse’s taller frame.
For a casual Friday at the office or a Saturday of errands, I chose bright accessories toned down with grey (you could also use camel to the same effect with orange). The large stone earrings and cuff bracelet combined with the striped scarf (remember our chilly offices) look put together but unstudied with a classic tee and cropped jeans.
For the opening of a local art exhibit (Invisible Elephant, anyone?), I chose sculptural shoes and jewelry in analogous colors (here I go with the mint and navy again) with a sophisticated bag to give jeans a bit of understated elegance and polish.
A word on price: While I heartily believe that you usually (usually!) get what you pay for, you might have noticed that in this post, I seem to have entered a dream world where a stylish girl of modest means can somehow afford to drop over 1k on earrings and nearly that on shoes. While I won’t deny that those Neil Barrett stunners are totally sacrifice-worthy (yes, even the level of sacrifice that involves eating ramen for a week), my personal style strategy would be to look for a similar pair at Marshall’s or (in cases where it. must. be. mine.) follow Stephanie’s tips and attempt to locate them at a lower price online.
Now that we’ve begun to build wardrobes that flatter us and work with our lifestyles, let’s add some icing to the cake! Accessories are a super-fun (that’s the technical term) way to tsuzj up any outfit, and they can be acquired on any budget. And while there aren’t too many ways to go wrong with accessories these days, some pointers can make it easier if you can only purchase a few pieces.
Stature is one thing to consider when building your accessories collection. If you’re petite, you may wish to choose accessories (this includes bags) that are on the smaller end of the spectrum to avoid overwhelming your delicate frame. Conversely, if you’re tall or larger-framed, you may wish to increase your accessories’ visual impact by choosing what I like to term “statement pieces.”
Check out my friend, Jes, who’s a cutie patootie petite with a megawatt smile. She was gracious enough to allow me to accessorize the outfit she’s sporting below for work and weekend.
I sometimes find it easiest to accessorize with analogous colors (next to each other on the color wheel), so with Jes’s navy skirt, I couldn’t resist choosing the mint that’s so popular right now and a purple-tinted blue bag to pop a subtle hint of color that’s still appropriate for even a conservative office. Also, since we Floridians tend to combat the sweltering summer heat by cranking the A/C, I’ve added a scarf for a chilly office.
For the weekend, I chose bright hits of color and a playful attitude to match Jes’s cheery smile. However, the scale of the individual pieces is kept small to harmonize with her petite frame. Keeping our proximity to the equator in mind, I’ve included a lightweight straw hat in case the farmer’s market is one of her Saturday destinations.
What do you think? Do you prefer to accessorize with analogous colors, complementary colors (opposite each other on the color wheel), or just by feel?
“I used to buy good shoes; now I buy good bags. They make me feel more confident.”
The cost-per-wear concept has paid the greatest dividend for me in the bags I carry. I’m a busy girl, and prefer not to go through the hassle of changing my bag every day, so it’s imperative that I have one that plays nicely with all my clothes. Recently, I had to replace an old favorite—a B.Makowsky creation purchased at a steal of $90 at T.J. Maxx that had lasted me almost three years (carried every day, it had a cost-per-wear of a mere 8 cents)!!
I loved the B.Makowsky so much that I decided to look for another one, and scored again at T.J. Maxx–a red beauty for $140. I was a little nervous about it working with my entire wardrobe, but I’ve been carrying it for a couple of weeks now, and it meshes with everything quite nicely. Even if I only use it on weekdays for the next three years, the cost-per-wear will be under 18 cents. Not to mention that it adds serious polish to whatever I pair it with.
“Lo que es barato sale caro y lo que es caro sale barato.”
(What is cheap ends up being expensive and what is expensive ends up being cheap).
–Cuban expression often quoted by Audrey Hepburn
Need some real-life examples of the cost-per-wear concept? This weekend, scroll through the archives of two of my favorite blogs–Jessica Quirk’s blog What I Wore and Kelly Framel’s blog The Glamourai–for some inspiration. Two ladies with wildly different styles (and clothing budgets), they both embrace this concept and wear certain items regularly.
My favorite item that Jessica rocks repeatedly is a beautiful pair of House of Harlow brown woven wedges, while Kelly Framel incorporates an a.maz.ing Helmut Lang tuxedo blazer in many of her outfits.
While both of these pieces might make a dent in a girl’s wallet initially, they more than pay for themselves over time. In fact, Kelly’s so pleased with her blazer that she says, “At $575, it’s not exactly cheap, but after having seen how useful it’s been in my own wardrobe, I’d happily pay double!!”
“Elegance is refusal.”
I’ve been in people’s closets that held items they had not worn in five years (sometimes longer)! When building a wardrobe, don’t hang on to clothes you no longer wear just because you paid money for them at one time or another. If you keep a well-curated closet (in other words, a closet edited with intention), you will have a more accurate idea of what pieces you have and how they can interact. This can help you save your clothing budget for pieces that will truly add a lot of value to your closet.
I know it’s hard to part with certain articles of clothing, though (after all, they’ve seen us through some crazy times!). What I find helpful is to move the items I’m considering “editing” out of my wardrobe to a different closet for a period of time (perhaps a month or so). If I don’t miss them during that time, they go in the donation bin, and it doesn’t seem so difficult to part with them. However, if I’m constantly visiting the other closet to retrieve something, I re-consider keeping it.
“Dress shabbily, they notice the dress. Dress impeccably, they notice the woman.”
When building a wardrobe, think quality instead of quantity. This is sometimes difficult and requires forethought and discipline. You need to put some thought into what pieces you need to build a cohesive wardrobe, and the discipline to not succumb to a weak moment and purchase random items that don’t fit into your plan (not to say you can’t ever buy a piece that you weren’t planning to, just evaluate whether or not it truly flatters your body and fits your current life situation).
This is not a “quick fix,” but over time, your wardrobe will consist of fabulous pieces you can rely on for a variety of situations.