Grooming & Style

Accent On Accessories

BY: Judith Rasband • May 31, 2019

What to wear with what is an age-old dilemma, but coming up with the right answers is a game that anyone can play and win!  And the more you play the game, the better you’ll become at using the guidelines to work for you.

The art of accessorizing is one of the most challenging, yet creative phases of wardrobe planning. It requires skillful blending of lines, shapes, colors, textures and patterns to create the essential balance, pleasing proportion, interest and harmony both with the outfit and the individual.

Any item that completes an outfit and adds polish to the look is considered an accessory.  Essential accessories used daily include shoes, handbags, neckties, belts, stockings and jewelry.  They should receive attention and budget allowance first.

Other accessories, the nice to haves-not to be overlooked include hats, gloves, scarves and shawls, detachable collars and cuffs, dickies, handkerchiefs and pocket squares, flowers, hair ornaments, eyeglasses and umbrellas.

I like to think of third layer clothes, such as jackets, sweaters and vests much like accessories.  Worn over blouses, skirts, slacks or dresses, you can use them to change the look of those second-layer clothes.

Accessories should be selected with their purpose and power in mind. Take a moment to think about what each item contributes to the image you want to project.

In a world of standardized style, think of your accessories as the details that can give the most common “assembly line” dress or suit a look of distinction.  Your accessories are personality pieces that signal your personal style.

For example, the choice of accessories can make two identical suits look totally different on different women.  One woman might coordinate a softly styled blouse, scarf, bracelet and dress heels, with a narrow belt worn over the suit jacket.

Another woman might coordinate a turtleneck sweater, necklace and leather boots, with a large shawl worn over the jacket.  You’d have to look twice to decide if they were indeed wearing the same suit.

An attractive accessory can be just the item that “pulls together” the look of a new outfit, coordinating separates and creating a finished appearance.

You could, for example, “pull together” the look of rust-colored slacks and a white shirt with a black, rust and white print tie or scarf. A rust and white striped sport belt would do the job equally well.

An eye-catching accessory can lead an observer’s eye to a point of emphasis as it adds contract in line and shape, color or texture.  A well-placed accessory can divert the observer’s gaze away from areas on your face or figure where you don’t want attention, and direct it to an area where you do.

For instance, a third-layer sweater or vest can create a smooth line from shoulder to hip and camouflage wide hips or extra weight around the middle.  And if it contrasts with the color of the blouse beneath, a vertical line is formed at center front that visually lengthens the figure and leads attention up to the face.

Add an interesting necklace and you further direct attention away from the waist or hips and up toward the face.  Now that’s what I call the winning game. 

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