Style Corner: How To Accessorize
Issue 15, Volume 112
Though accessories may be a smaller and less noticeable part of your outfit, they’re certainly not to be underestimated. They unify outfits, add form, and influence the aesthetic of your look. If your clothes are the meat and potatoes of your meal, your accessories are the utensils you use and the napkin on your lap. You’ve had sustenance before, sure, but your accessories are what make your outfit a full-course meal. If you want some help with your table manners, or in other words, your accessorizing, then you’ve come to the right place.
One thing to consider when accessorizing is the complexity of your outfit. Outfits with too many focal points can distract the eye, so if your outfit is already complex, you may want to use simpler accessories to avoid further distraction. This might mean avoiding those high-contrast sneakers and colorful beaded necklaces in favor of plainer shoes and thinner, daintier jewelry. If your outfit is on the simpler side, a great way to elevate the look is to use bolder accessories, like a pair of chunky sneakers or a flashy bag.
Accessorizing simpler outfits can have a subtle role in making these average looks visually appealing on social media. For example, note this oversized top and jeans combination from Bollywood celebrity Anushka Sharma, or this graphic t-shirt and jeans look from user bestdressed on Instagram; without the accessories, both outfits would be shapeless or boring to look at. Next time, before giving up on the basic graphic tee and jeans combination, try bedazzling the look with a few accessories.
Another thing to consider is the aesthetic of your accessories. With its barely visible chains and delicate pendants, “dainty” jewelry, for example, tends to look classy and minimalistic. On the other hand, chunky black boots and black leather belts have an edgier and more industrial look to them. Matching the aesthetic of your outfit with that of your accessories can produce a nice, cohesive fit. It’s also a good idea to keep all of your accessories consistent with each other. A general rule of thumb is to choose between using either silver or gold when accessorizing any given outfit. Beyond this, matching your accessories with each other in terms of their aesthetics can help with consistency; for example, if you’re wearing chunky rings, a thicker chain might pair better with your rings than a dainty pendant necklace.
But if you’re finding that your outfit is overbearingly in line with one style (say it’s too formal or too cutesy), choosing accessories from a contrasting style can make your outfit feel closer to your personal fashion. For example, it’s been trendy to pair a delicate satin dress with black accessories like combat boots and crossbody bags to add some edge, which balances out the innocence of the look. Using accessories in this way can also help dress down formal clothes like blazers and dress pants. For example, a blazer paired with stud earrings and dress shoes will look very different from one paired with lots of colorful jewelry and a boldly colored handbag.
It’s also worth noting that accessorizing, while often reminding people of traditionally feminine jewelry, is not just for women, and is actually very useful for those seeking to dress more masculine. In fact, traditionally feminine jewelry is currently hitting men’s mainstream fashion, with pearl necklaces and whimsical beads leading the way. More feminine jewelry like dangly earrings, beaded necklaces, and rings with gemstones can be paired with masculine clothing and accessories, like watches and belts, to produce an overall masculine effect. For a masculine look that’s more minimalistic, however, a simple belt and watch will go a long way in adding some form and intention to a simple outfit like jeans and a t-shirt. People of all genders should also consider exploring the realm of men’s jewelry, which tends to include thicker rings and chains, less colorful crystals, and more silver, steel, and leather. Chain necklaces are especially in fashion among men, with some popular ways to style them including tucking a shorter chain under a shirt, layering chains and pendants under a loose button-down, and wearing a pendant necklace alone with a plain, form-fitting top.
If you’re looking to buy an accessory, shopping around online or in stores until you find a piece that excites you is a good place to start. You might feel compelled to do your homework on what’s trendy or essential before you go shopping, but sometimes the trendy stuff is boring, and it’s more fun to go out in the wild and find something you like without overthinking it. If you’re after funky, unique jewelry, try online markets with independent sellers like Depop or Etsy. For edgy chains and chokers, try Hot Topic. If you’re still unsure, the best way to get to know what you like is by experimenting. Some pieces are plain beautiful even without an outfit, and there’s a good chance you’ll know what you want when you see it.