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Use accessories to make your outfit pop

Actress Kat Graham lets her outfit do the talking with accessories that don't steal the spotlight.
Photo by Valerie Macon/Getty Images

The legendary fashion designer Coco Chanel is often quoted as having said, “When accessorizing, always remove the last thing you put on.” Chanel, of course, is famous for paring down women’s wear and making it more functional in addition to its chic. However, these wise words regarding accessories still ring true. Wearing too many accessories makes an outfit busy and can detract from your overall look. While styling an outfit is a matter of personal preference, here are some general guidelines to remember when choosing accessories.

Choose one statement piece: Statement pieces can add a pop to any outfit. An oversized necklace, a cocktail ring or show stopping earrings can elevate any outfit. They key to statement pieces is to highlight one and stick with less flashy complementary accessories. These pieces are meant to stand out. When too many are worn at the same time, you end up looking like Cindy Lauper, circa 1983 – great if you’re a pop star, not so great if you’re walking down the street.

Avoid “matchy matchy”: At one time, it was common practice to coordinate jewelry, shoes and bags to one’s outfit. These days, the rules are way more lax. If you’re wearing gold earrings, it’s fine to wear a silver necklace. Black shoes and a burgundy handbag is no longer the ultimate faux pas. The thing to remember is that you want to make sure that your accessories can be tied into your outfit. Think of a runway collection – not all of the pieces match, but there are usually one or two common threads that pull it together. Keep this in mind.

Keep it complementary: Your accessories should complement your outfit, not compete with it. Choosing the wrong accessories can make an outfit look costumy, or simply confusing. A military jacket is a great way to add an edgy, utilitarian look to your outfit, but if you add aviators and a fedora, you might look like you are auditioning for a role in a musical revival of Top Gun. Accessories should be thoughtfully chosen and should enhance your outfit.

Adding jewelry, hair adornments, handbags and other items is a fun way to update your outfit. Just do it carefully, or you could end up looking drab rather than fab.

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