Friday, July 4, 2008

Making Accessories Work for You

What makes this outfit work? Colour, contrast, and shape. The finishing touch, pulling the outfit together, is not the scarf or the bag, but the buttons. Never under-estimate the power in a button!

Karla Davis offers tips on how to make accessories work for you. Here are some excerpts from her article "How to Dress Classy with Little Cash."

"The best tip is to wear a great outfit with one or two accessories maximum that pop! My mother used to dress extremely well because she picked out accessories and clothing that looked great but cost next to nothing. This is because she looked in stores like K-Mart as she couldn't afford designer or even mall store prices. Put on a Blazer and jeans with a pair of cute flats and have one significant piece like a great necklace to really make your neckline pop. When hair is done up, this is the best time to show off shoulders and your neckline, so draw attention with some great earrings and necklace. Even a funky watch can jazz up an otherwise low-key outfit.

"Scarves are Your Best Friend! Scarves have so many uses that it is hard not to have any in your wardrobe. Scarves can act as a tie around your hair in a ponytail, tied around your neck, used as a belt around your waist or simply ties to the shoulder strap of your handbag for a sprightly look. It is good to have variety. Black and Red are my favorites however I have some softer colors such as pale pink and beige with light brown in full stripes, polka-dots are very in right now also. When you are bored with the pattern or color switch them up with your friend's for variety.

"Accessorize but don't overdo it! Classy women look classy because they don't overdo it. Wearing a great dress or outfit with a single ring, pair of small earrings and a small necklace is fine. Wearing a suit with a ring on every finger, watch, bracelet, heavy makeup, hair in an elaborate clip, a belt, a scarf around the neck and bright shoes is overkill. Nobody knows what to look at first! When you get ready to leave the house, look into a full length mirror with your entire outfit including a hat or handbag if included. You will often slowly start to strip a couple accessories away or tone down bold shoes and handbags.

Too much?

"Remember, simple is best. Add one or two killer pieces that will have you feeling great and getting compliments along the way.

"Don't be Afraid to Shop in Thrift Stores! I can't tell you how many things I've been able to snag there. The key is to go into an area that is more well-to-do or exclusive. Often people with a lot of money can discard things faster for new items such as great sweaters, blazers, handbags, you name it! My last purchase there was actually a set of hot rollers that retail at $70 that I picked up for $16! I bought an $80 pair of great brown boots that were never worn for $6!! I'll admit, you have to make some time to sift through a lot of duds till you find a few keepers, but it is well worth it. Buy items that have their original bold color, no fading! Make sure there are no holes or stains. If there is a small area that is inconspicuous, by all means grab the item if you can fix it. You can also find some fun handbags, belts, and jewelry."

Shannon McCarthy serves up all the trimmings of women's fashion accessories here. She covers hats, scarves and wraps, gloves, belts, and bags, and shopping options for each.

Our thanks to for the following three scarf-tying tips.

The Loop
The most popular, and one of the best scarf ties to keep you warm, is the Loop. Fold a long scarf in half and place it behind your head. Wrap it around your neck and slide the ends through the loop, making sure they’re almost even. Adjust the scarf until it’s snug.

The Ascot
The Ascot does double duty: it keeps your neck warm and looks chic. It also holds the title for the easiest scarf tie. Hold the scarf around your neck and tie it into a simple knot at the front.
Spread open the gathers and tuck into your coat or an open neckline. For an updated look, try it untucked.

The Long Tie
Drape a long scarf around your neck and tie a simple knot in one side of the scarf about half way down the length. Pull the other side of the scarf through the knot, adjust so it is well positioned, and tighten.

Christa Taylor's blog provides illustrated directions on 4 ways to decorate yourself with a scarf. Pictures courtesy of Greatestlooks.

The Crown. This style is an elegant-looking wrap and is a good choice for bad hair days. Scarf Style Needed: Rectangular (oblong) Scarf.

The Belt. Sometimes you need something to dress-up that simple little dress or skirt you’re wearing, but you don’t want (or don’t have) a regular belt that would be appropriate. Put that scarf to use. Scarf Style Needed: Rectangular (oblong) Scarf (80 cm long).

The Kelly. The method of wearing a scarf to protect the hair-style and still look glamorous while traveling is named after American actress-turned-Princess of Monaco, Grace Kelly. Scarf Style Needed: Square Scarf.

The Neck Wrap. This style looks best with a blouse bearing a high collar and is a simple accent to any clean cut outfit. Scarf Style Needed: Rectangular (Oblong) Scarf (at least 80 cm long).

Rather than getting overwhelmed by so many variations, pick one or two styles you like, practice tying them until you can do it quickly without referring to the instructions, and plan which outfits you can wear them with. Then do it, and wear with confidence! = )

The first illustration in this post, and the three sets below, were cut from a 2007/2008 British knitting catalogue sent to me by a friend. I did what I do with every fashion picture that catches my eye -- added them to my Portfolio.

In these three images, the girls are wearing the same hat and the same colour jersey, but they get a completely different look from their outfit. Spot the changes?

Don't forget to click on the image to see all the detail. Find the differences. Clue: it's not the same flower.

Which pieces do you like? Why? Would you wear them? What with? Make a note of the kind of accessories that you find attractive and will work with the clothing you already have, and keep an eye out for them when you're shopping.

That little ribbon on the cap offers a world of coordinating alternatives. Again, see what buttons can do.

About 12 years ago I found a cashmere swing coat in a pile of secondhand clothing we'd been given, a coat with the most hideous brown buttons I've ever seen. The fabric was sound, other than a hole where a foraging moth had enjoyed a cook-up, so I beheaded the ugly buttons and replaced them with ones I liked. The 2008 season's high fashion must-haves include the colour gray, big buttons, and a coat, any sort of coat. This thing's got 'em all, eh bro?

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