Accessories are the perfect way to put the finishing touches on an outfit and pull your whole look together. From jewelry and scarves to handbags and sunglasses, the right accessories can elevate your style from drab to fab. Whether you’re dressing for a special occasion or just want to amp up your everyday wardrobe, accessorizing artfully is key to creating a polished, put-together appearance.
Follow these tips to master the art of accessorizing and achieve that flawless finished look every time.
Choose Statement Pieces That Complement Your Outfit
When selecting accessories, opt for statement pieces that work cohesively with the rest of your look. The accessories should enhance what you’re wearing, not compete with it.
Match Colors and Materials
Choose accessories in colors that coordinate with your clothing. Metallics pair well with other neutrals and rich tones like navy, burgundy, and forest green. Similarly, match the textures of bags, shoes, and other accessories to the fabrics you’re wearing. Leather with leather, suede with suede. Accessories that mirror the materials of your outfit will look purposeful and pulled-together.
Consider Scale and Proportion
Make sure the scale of your accessories suits the proportions of your body and clothing. Petite frames look best with daintier accessories like thin belts and smaller handbags. Those who are taller can pull off oversized sunglasses and big statement necklaces more easily. The accessory sizes should be balanced against your physical size.
Mind the Occasion
Take the formality of the event into account when selecting accessories. Flashy jewelry and embellished headpieces work for galas and weddings, while more casual gatherings call for laid-back items like canvas totes and simple layered necklaces. Contextualize accessories within the overall look.
Invest in Versatile Basics You Can Mix and Match
Build your accessory collection around versatile basics in classic colors and materials that function as wardrobe workhorses. These types of pieces coordinate effortlessly with all kinds of outfits.
A high quality leather, suede, or canvas handbag in black, brown, tan, navy, or cognac will work with everything from business casual to dressy evening attire. Go for a day bag with clean lines in a timeless silhouette like a tote, satchel, or hobo bag. Structured options look sharper for work contexts.
Opt for fine jewelry with gold, silver, platinum, and quality gemstones. Metals pair perfectly with both warm and cool tones, looking refined yet understated. Pieces like hoop earrings, tennis bracelets, and simple necklaces provide everyday elegance.
Invest in a pair or two of designer sunglasses with polarized lenses and durable frames. Classic shapes like wayfarers, aviators, and cat-eyes flatter most faces. Stick to black, tortoiseshell, or gradient brown lenses.
A few leather belts in brown and black work with jeans, skirts, pants, and dresses. Go for different widths from skinny to wide corset-style. Both sleek and textured finishes provide versatility.
Use Scarves and Wraps to Inject Color and Texture
Scarves and wraps add a playful pop of color, pattern, and texture to ensembles. Drape, knot, or tie them around your neck, shoulders, or handbag for an effortless dash of style.
Try Different Styles
Experiment with rectangular, infinity, and blanket scarves in varied fabrics like silk, wool, cashmere, cotton, chiffon, and pashmina. Lightweight wraps look breezy with shorts and dresses, while plush cold weather accessories amp up the coziness of coats.
Pick Colors Strategically
Use brighter, bolder hued scarves to make neutral outfits come alive. Muted earth tones, pastels, and monochromes complement louder prints and patterns. Match your cool and warm tones. Scarves in complementing shades lend visual interest.
Play with Patterns and Textures
Mix and match prints, embroidered elements, fringe, and fabric finishes for dimension. Pair solids with polynomials and florals with geometric shapes. Luxe soft accessories balance crisper linen and cotton garments.
Curate Your Jewelry Layering
The art of layering necklaces, bracelets, and rings creates a purposefully styled look and showcases your jewelry collection. Follow these tips for foolproof layering every time.
Vary Lengths and Shapes
Combine short chokers, medium lariats, and long pendants. Throwing in different lengths prevents a bulky tangled look. For bracelets, stack bangles with stretch pieces and cuffs.
Transition Metals and Stones
Necklace layering works best when transitioning metals and gemstones. Contrast silver with gold and pair pearls with sparkling crystals. Connect cool and warm tones for depth.
Mind Scale and Volume
Thin delicate pieces allow for more layered volume overall. Start with daintier items close to the neck, moving outwards to bolder pendants, chains, and wraps. Avoid overwhelming your frame with multiple bulky statement necklaces.
Don’t Overdo It
While more is often more with layering, exercise restraint to keep your look classy. As a general rule of thumb, stick to no more than three necklaces, a few stacked bracelets per wrist, and one statement ring per hand with simpler bands.
Use Belts to Cinch and Flatter Your Shape
Strategically placed belts instantly pull together your look by elegantly defining your waist and accentuating your figure.
Find Your Right Belt Placement
Traditionally, belts hit at the narrowest part of your waist. But this varies depending on torso length. Stand naturally and bend side to side to find where the belt feels most comfortable and flattering for your body.
Pair Belts and Bottoms Wisely
Match the formality and hues of belts with your bottoms. Dress belts with skirts and slacks, casual belts with jeans. Contrasting colors make belts pop. Coordinate complementary shades for seamlessness at the waist.
Cinch Lightly for Flexibility and Comfort
Avoid tightly cinched belts that dig in uncomfortably. Allow room for sitting, bending, and breathing easily. Belt flexibility also allows tops to comfortably drape over the waistband without bunching.
Balance Belt and Outfit Widths
Wider corset and waist-cinching belts balance voluminous dresses, full skirts, loose tops, and billowy pants. Thinner belts suit pencil skirts, form-fitting sheaths, and straight leg trousers. Match belt and clothing widths.
Pull Looks Together with the Finishing Touches
Put the final polish on your outfit with the right shoes, bags, hats, and extras. These accessories complete your curated style.
Shoes Should Flatter Your Legs
Elongate legs with nude or flesh-toned heels and pumps. Ankle straps make feet and ankles appear more delicate. Pointed toes create a slenderizing effect. Opt for height-boosting heels when possible.
Mind Your Bag and Shoe Pairings
Match leather with leather. Contrast warm and cool tones like black shoes with a cognac bag. Coordinate metallic bag hardware with metallic jewelry and belt buckles for symmetry. Bag size should be proportionate to your frame and occasion.
Hats Frame Your Face
Frame your face shape with complementing silhouettes like wide brims for oval faces and narrow brims for longer faces. Contrast vibrant hat bands with muted outfits. Tie hat ribbons in crisp bows under the chin.
Don’t Forget the Finishing Extras
Final touches like pocket squares, brooches, hair accessories, eyeglasses, and watches add personality. Fold pocket squares neatly, cluster brooches strategically near your face, and style your hair deliberately.
Learn Styling Shortcuts to Get Dressed Faster
Who has time for endless accessorizing and outfit pivots when you’re rushing to get ready? Use these shortcuts to streamline your styling routine.
Prep Accessories in Advance
Gather, organize, and preselect accessories, jewelry, bags, belts, scarves, and hair accessories the night before. Set them out ready to grab in the morning. Coordinate pieces into quick go-to combinations.
Store Sets Together
Group accessories, shoes, and complementary garments together on shelves, in drawers, hanging in closets, or even stored in clear organizer boxes. Seeing put-together looks instantly makes assembling outfits faster.
Create Grab and Go Stations
Have designated grab spots in your home entryway, mudroom, or near the door holding must-have accessories like sunglasses, bags, shoes, and scarves. Hooks, shelves, baskets, or trays corral items to snatch as you head out.
Streamline Your Jewelry Collection
Curate your jewelry selection by decluttering pieces you never or rarely wear. Keep a tightly edited assortment of beloved classics, bold statement items, and layering essentials you actually use regularly.
Save Time with Multitaskers
Opt for accessory multitaskers that transition seamlessly between looks and occasions. Scarves, jewelry, and handbags in versatile hues, fabrics, and silhouettes pair effortlessly with endless outfits.
Care for Accessories Properly for Longevity
Caring properly for your beloved bags, baubles, and extras ensures they last for many seasons and retain their beauty. Follow these tips to maximize accessory lifespan.
Store Items Properly
Keep jewelry untangled in pouches or drawstring bags. Refold scarves neatly. Store fine leather goods stuffed with tissue to hold shape. Never let items pile or tangle. Avoid damp areas.
Clean and Condition Periodically
Gently wipe down metals, crystals, and leather. Hand wash delicate fabrics. Use conditioners and polishing cloths to moisturize, buff, and protect surfaces from cracking and tarnishing.
Make Small Repairs
Don’t ignore loose clasps, twisted straps, stuck zippers, or lost embellishments over time. Address issues promptly with adhesive, pliers, sewing kits, leather glue, or a jeweler.
Give Pieces a Seasonal Rest
Rotate your accessories seasonally. Allowing well-loved items to rest reduces wear. It also makes rediscovering them more exciting.
Know When to Let Go
If an item becomes irreparable despite your best care, consider repairing, repurposing, or releasing it. Damaged or worn pieces detract from polished looks.
Shop Smartly and Selectively
While accessorizing can become expensive, you can keep costs down by shopping smartly and selectively. Follow these tips:
Invest in Quality Over Quantity
Focus your budget on slowly acquiring fewer nicer pieces over cheaper trendy items that won’t endure. Quality leathergoods and metals last for decades.
Take Inventory Before Shopping
Look at what you already own first. This prevents duplicate purchases and helps you identify gaps to fill. Shop to round out your accessories collection, not impulsively.
Check out consignment shops, vintage and thrift stores, antiques malls, estate sales, and online resale platforms to score major discounts on pre-owned designer pieces.
Look for Sales and Coupons
Never pay full price if you can avoid it. Wait for sales at department stores and boutiques or sign up for email lists to get coupon codes for additional markdowns.
Personalize more affordable costume pieces with monogramming and engraving to elevate the look and value. Add your own artistic flair with fabric paint or jewelry making.
Learn How to Store Accessories
Proper storage is crucial to keeping your accessories organized, protected, and accessible so items are cared for and never lost in the depths of your closet. Follow these tips:
Invest in Storage Systems
Clear organizers with dividers or stackable trays allow you to see everything while preventing tangles. Hanging jewelry armoires have hooks, slots, and drawers.
Use Your Wall Space
Install floating shelves, wall hooks, mirrors with storage, and over-the-door hanging racks. Great for jewelry, scarves, hats, and bulky bags.
Containerize Small Items
Use jewelry boxes, makeup cases, sunglass cases, or small pouches to compartmentalize. Label containers clearly.
If your collection outgrows your existing storage, it’s time to edit down. Don’t let pieces pile up outside your systems.
Store by Category
Group items by type – necklaces together, sunglasses together, etc. Consider grouping by color as well.
Reserve Prime Real Estate
Place most-used items in easiest-to-access areas. Prioritize clothing-adjacent and entryway storage space.
Discover New Brands and Designers
Don’t just default to the same big designer names over and over. Discover exciting emerging brands and lesser-known artisans creating gorgeous handmade accessories:
Check Out Local Boutiques
Small specialty shops offer curated selections you won’t find at big retailers. Chat with the owners about new designers.
Follow Social Media
Instagram and TikTok showcase countless talented makers. Look up hashtags like #handmadejewelry and explore accounts you love.
Attend Craft Fairs
Support local artists selling jewelry, bags, scarves and more at fairs, markets, pop-ups, and indie shopping events.
Get Store Recommendations
Ask sales associates at your favorite retailers to point out their newest or most unique accessory offerings.
Research Online Directories
Websites like Etsy have endless options and let you filter by item type, location, and price point.
Look Out for Pop Ups
Temporary “pop up shop” events allow new designers to get their products in front of buyers. Follow pop up announcements.
Dress Up Simple Outfits with Vibrant Accessories
Accessories inject color, texture, and personality into basic wardrobe staples. Enliven simple outfits with these vibrant accessory ideas:
Oversize brightly hued hoops, geometric studs, or attention-grabbing danglers. Complement solid neutral outfits.
Stacked Bangle Bracelets
Cheap, easy option to pile on pops of color. Mix widths, textures, and shades. Wear pushed up on sleeveless arms.
Drape around neck, waist or bag. Choose bold graphic or floral prints in rich saturated colors.
Punchy clutches, crossbodies and totes energize plain looks. Go for a hue that pops against your palette.
Nautical stripes in rainbow brights cinch waists. Coordinate with other accessories for color continuity.
Embellished Hair Accessories
Headbands, clips, barrettes, and pins glam up basic hairstyles. Choose a color that flatters skin undertone.
Shop Vintage and Consignment For One-Of-A-Kind Finds
Searching vintage shops and consignment boutiques allows you to source amazing quality accessories full of retro charm and modern appeal.
Where to Look
- Local consignment and vintage clothing stores
- Antique malls and flea markets
- Estate sales and auctions
- Online sites like Etsy, eBay, Poshmark
- Specialty vintage accessory retailers
What to Look For
- Vintage designer bags, gloves, compacts
- Bakelite, celluloid, lucite jewelry
- Rhinestone brooches and pins
- Fancy vintage hats and gloves
- Scarves and pocket squares
- Refurbished watches, eyeglass frames
- Inspect construction and materials
- Look for signature logos, stamps, markings
- Ask about provenance if possible
- Verify serial numbers and model info
- Examine for stains, tears, damage
- Make sure closures, handles function
- Note repairs needed for fixable issues
Negotiate Fair Prices
- Factor in restoration costs
- Compare similar items online
- Politely counter overpriced items
- Offer to buy multiple items for a deal
Create DIY Accessories on a Budget
Accessorizing stylishly doesn’t have to cost a fortune. Make your own fashionable accessories at home using inexpensive craft store materials and recycled items.
Bracelets from Buttons
Turn a pile of thrifted buttons into a charm bracelet. Use jewelry wire or elastic cord to string buttons together in color groups.
Statement Necklaces from Hardware
Connect chains, clasps, washers and jump rings from hardware stores into chunky layered necklaces and bibs.
Embellished Sandals and Shoes
Decorate flip flops, canvas sneakers and other shoes with fabric paint, rhinestones, studs, lace, or bow clips.
Bags from Scarves or Bandanas
Tie scarves through purse handles or bandanas at the corners to make a DIY handbag. Stitch on ribbons, brooches or tassels.
Make earrings, necklaces, bracelets, and rings by stringing together beads from craft stores or upcycling old broken jewelry pieces.
Hair Accessories from Fabric Scraps
Cut strips from leftover fabric or old clothes. Tie into headbands or bows. Sew strips together into scrunchies.
Refashion Brooches Into Pins
Glue clip-on earrings, brooches, buttons or jewelry pieces onto barrettes and hair pins using strong adhesives like E6000.
How to Build a Minimalist Accessory Collection
If your style skews minimal, it’s easy to build a capsule accessory collection featuring versatile essentials in muted tones. Follow these tips:
Focus on Simplicity
Seek out simple, clean-lined silhouettes devoid of loud logos or ostentatious details. Solid metals and le