Monday, June 3, 2013

Checklist: How to build an accessory wardrobe

As soon as we are born and clothes are put onto our bodies, dressing becomes second nature.

Accessorising comes later in life and so most of us have had less practice - so it is trickier to do. But the skill of accessorising can still be learnt. 

This post provides you with a CHECKLIST of the questions you should be asking yourself when planning your accessories wardrobe.

Question 1: What's my preferred style?

Yes, "style" doesnt just apply to clothes, it very much applies to bling.

The 3 overriding styles styles are classic, dramatic or boho.

A classic may prefer subtle chains or pearls. The key here is neat and controlled pieces which dont go all over the place. So the earrings may be a single drop or a stud. The necklace may be a symmetrical choker or a single strand and there is less chance it will be a lariat.

A dramatic style will favour asymmetry, geometry, exaggerated pieces, bold colours and large metallic pieces. 
Think large clean lines & statement pieces. Your bling may be the wooden pieces from Elk, or the resin and metal pieces from Dinosaur Designs.  

A boho style prefers mixed colours, often but not always earthy, and anything which isnt neat. Think dangly, intricate and fussy pieces. Leather pieces tend to fall into this category.

At this point, I would suggest you do some googling to see what these styles of bling look like. If there are celebrities whose style you admire, google again, to see more of their style. The more you can identify what you like, the easier your wardrobe building will be. Trust me, the homework WILL pay off. 

Down the track, you can fine tune your knowledge into more detailed categories like crafty/whimsical, romantic/girly, minimalist, sporty/casual, Euro chic and corporate, among others. These are all variations on the 3 basic styles.

So if you're corporate at work and dramatic on the weekend, perhaps you shouldnt grab those ethnic beads at the markets.

If you're minimalist, then that multicoloured raw edge scarf may not be the best choice for you, even if its on sale.

Question 2: What colours flatter my face?

This is very important for anything that sits near your face, namely necklaces, earrings, corsages, brooches, headbands, glasses, scarves & the handles of shoulder bags.

If you wear it on your feet, waist, hands or wrist, then wear it even if it would make you look ill around the face as long as you love it & it complements the outfit.

If you really want to get it perfect, also watch the buckles on your shoes and the buckle son your belt too. 

This question also applies to knowing your best metal, whether its silver tone, yellow gold tone or rose gold tone. 

It doesnt end there. If you look best in silver tones, then keep your distressed metals as gunmetals/greys. If you look best in yellow gold/rose gold tones, then keep your distressed metals as antiquey gold.

Question 3: 
a) What accessories do I hate wearing?
b) What accessories do I prefer wearing?
c) What features of the accessory do I like or dislike?

This question is all about "know thyself". The more you know  about what you like & dont like, the easier it will be to spot the winner & the loser. The more you plan to wear the item, the more important this question becomes. 

For example:
If you hate rings there is no point investing in them just because they are on sale.
If bangles drive you mad, then steer away from them.

When it comes to bags:
Do you like your bags to have one handle or two?
Do you like your bags with a shoulder strap?
Do you need a divider in your handbag?
Do you need an outer zipper or is a press stud OK?
What is your preferred size (depth, height, width)?
Hey, if you are going to invest a few hundred dollars (let alone a few thousand) on a bag, this kind of self knowledge is vital.

Question 4: 
a) What necklines do I wear?
b) What's my facial shape?
c) Am I big bones or small boned?

There are some rules of thumb here & the rest is playing around in front of the mirror.

Wear accessories around your neck which complement your neckline. 

For example:
A square neckline looks best with angular accessories.
A vee neckline looks best with vee accessories such as a chain with a pendant that directs the chain to look like a vee.
A round neck looks best with accessories which follow the curve of the round neckline.

If your face is curved, keep your accessories angular.
If your face is angular, keep your accessories curved.
By selecting accessories opposite to your face shape, you will achieve balance & harmony.

For example:
If your face is an inverted triangle (think Reece Witherspoon), then wear triangular shaped earrings (which arent inverted) so they balance out your pointy chin.
A square face looks best in rounded frames.
An oblong face looks best in glasses which have strength at the temples (like cat eye frames).

Do you know if you are big boned or small boned?
If you dont, ask me on the Facebook page public area & I will give you the test for this. 

Big boned girls should wear larger scale accessories.
Small boned girls should wear smaller scale accessories.

Question 5: Do I prefer "cheap & cheerful" or investment pieces?

Frankly, if you like investment pieces, you need to scour the sales or accept that you will have less bling, since each one will have a higher cost. 

Question 6: Finally, does it complement the outfit, accentuate my good bits & detract from my bad bits? 

For example: The white shoe
The colour white may not suit your complexion but you can wear white in shoes. Even if white shoes complement your outfit, if you have big feet, they may be cut/stitched/trimmed so they will accentuate your bad bits. Leave them at the store & go home.  

Stand back in a full length mirror to assess this. Lucky for you, accessory shops have plenty of these and you should bring the outfit with you if you REALLY want to get it right.

Does the item pass?

The item you are fingering at the store needs to pass as many of the above questions as possible.  The more of these questions that the item passes, the more the buy will make sense for your wardrobe as it will be more likely you will wear it more so CPW goes down. 

Putting it into practice:

There is no better way to learn than to practice.
Pick your 3 favourite outfits & accessorise them.
Do one at a time, otherwise it can get confusing.
Take a photo of each look. 
Dont be afraid to overlap some of the accessories you use in each outfit. In fact, most of us have a particular style we gravitate toward, so I'd expect you to overlap the accessories  in your outfits - it makes sense & its practical. But try to make at least 1 or 2 items different so you dont get too predictable. After all, its cheaper to make an outfit look different with an accessory than with a new garment. 
Even if you are an investment dresser accessory girl, go to store like Diva and Lovisa and PLAY. Then look for a similar piece at a higher price point.
Always take the outfit with you (or wear it) when selecting accessories. 

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