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10 Tips that Will Help You Accessorize Like a Pro

Accessories have the potential to enliven a basic outfit. And you can do that over and over and over so that a simple outfit becomes a tried and true favorite. This is a great way to get the most mileage from your clothes – one outfit turns into a variety of looks. Never underestimate the power of accessories to do just that! Well-chosen accessories help you accentuate your style, expand your wardrobe and bring you confidence.

These ten tips will help you master the art of accessorizing in no time!

  1. Use your accessories to punctuate your style. For example, look at the finishes on jewelry pieces. A textured matte finish is more organic and earthy. A smooth shiny finish is more sophisticated and traditional. If your style is eclectic, you may want to wear shiny and matte finishes together. No matter what your accessory style, the goal is to add variety, interest and beauty. See Caryl in a dress with and without jewelry. One of Caryl’s inner beauty words is ‘spirited elegance’ which you can definitely see reflected in the photo with jewelry.

  1. Use color in small or large doses. One bold-colored bangle mixed with two black or two white ones adds a hint of drama to an outfit. An arm filled with brightly colored bangle is fully committed to drama. Or repeat colors and designs in your outfit like Diane did with these pretty earrings.

  1. When you buy a new outfit think about what kind of accessories you’ll need to “finish” the outfit. The best way to accessorize an outfit is while you are wearing it so whenever possible, don’t leave the store (whether online or brick and mortar) without assessing your accessory needs. If you are sure you have something at home that goes with it, pair them as soon as you get home. When you neglect that step, you may end up frustrated when you want to wear it and realize what you thought would work actually doesn’t!
  1. Accessories are a way to expand a wardrobe of solids. Necklaces are great accents over solid-colored T-shirts, sweaters or tops. Layer multiple necklaces for more style emphasis. Notice how much more interesting Laura’s outfit is with jewelry than without.

  1. When you open your closet do you see a sea of black? Rather than investing in yet more black garments, consider expanding your accessory wardrobe instead. Those additions—whether metallic, beaded or crystals—will make it seem like you have a brand new wardrobe.
  1. Department stores may not offer the selection you need in order to own accessories that resonate with you. Try other sources such as off-price stores TJ Maxx or Marshall’s. Consider shopping consignment stores or estate sales. Walk the aisles of a gem show, antique faire, or art show. One of my favorite sources of jewelry is If you find something you love, think through how many outfits you could wear it with. If you’re up to five outfits, you’ll be purchasing something of value. If it can only be worn with one thing you own, it may not be the right investment at this time unless you absolutely LOVE it. And, remember if a piece of jewelry truly inspires you you can always build an outfit around IT. Who says you have to start with the clothes first?
  1. If you mix patterns and prints in the same outfit, you may choose to wear fewer pieces of jewelry. If your clothing is bringing all the interest you want, simply focus on your earrings, rings, or simple chain to add minimal layering to what’s already going on. Or, look at how Laura’s necklace beautifully harmonizes with the complexity of the print in her top.

  1. When in doubt, match your style. Boho earrings look great with boho dresses. Traditional jewelry looks great with traditionally cut blouses and trousers. This does not mean that you cannot step out of your prescribed way of dressing—all styles rules can be bent or broken. However, if you feel unsure about how to do that on your own, let your clothing style help direct the style of accessories you’ll wear with them. Mixing multiple styles is delicious and can create a visual masterpiece, but it can also end up looking like you got dressed in the dark.
  1. Like clothing, accessories need to be edited. Sort through your collection and see what still delights you and what you enjoy wearing. Gift, consign, or donate the pieces that really do not interest you anymore. If you cannot bear to part with a piece but find you aren’t wearing it, tuck it away somewhere outside your everyday jewelry box.
  1. Many times, accessories can be altered or redesigned. If you have a necklace that’s too long, see if it can be shortened. If a necklace is too short, add an extender (you can get them at Amazon). If the closure is too hard to manage, take your necklace to a jeweler and see if they can change it to a magnetic closure. Necklaces that have too many things hanging from it could be made to look more current by removing parts of it. Do not be afraid to make changes yourself or take them to someone who can. You could get much more life out of something you already own but aren’t wearing. And, sometimes the question is not ‘are you willing to change it’ but how to change it. I help clients with this all the time – either in private programs or through the ‘Dress to Impress–Yourself!’ online course.

Next step: Rather than trying to implement all of these suggestions at once, choose one. You’ll be delighted when you make progress and then come back and choose a second step. In no time at all you will see great results.

And, if all of that feels overwhelming…

  • Are you drowning in a sea of accessories (jewelry and scarves, in particular) that you have accumulated over many years?
  • Do you find that you wear the same things over and over because it’s too time-consuming to rifle through all the other jewelry and piles of scarves?
  • Is it time for you to reassess what still works and what doesn’t, but you don’t know where to begin?

I am here to help! Whether it’s editing what you already have or shopping for accessories to finish outfits you own (so you’re excited to wear them), I can be of service. I help clients one-on-one in their closets and also personally through the online course — ‘Dress to Impress–Yourself!’ where you can ask me specific questions in the private Facebook group. Imagine how much easier it will be to get dressed and accessorize an outfit when you know what goes with what. It increases your self-confidence and gets you out the door faster each morning! Schedule a time for us to explore the possibilities:

* Photography credit:


2 Responses

  1. I was accessorizing very nicely with inexpensive costume jewelry until a year ago, when every piece I owned began to smell! I haven’t yet come upon a reputable-sounding way to clean them (toothpaste, really?) so I’ve backed off wearing any. If anyone has suggestions on how to clean, please post them here!

    1. Wow! I haven’t heard of that. Maybe just using a little alcohol? I don’t know. And perhaps findings some new pieces. is one of my favorite places for finding nice affordable jewelry. Good luck!

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Ginger Burr is a fashion stylist and personal shopper serving clients worldwide from metro Boston.