Accessories 101: Jewelry

This article is part two in a series. Before continuing, I highly recommend you read the first article here.

Jewelry is probably the first thing you think of when you hear the word “accessories.” It certainly affords more variety and options than any other type of accessory out there. At the same time, jewelry can be quite challenging to master. Here are a few ideas to help.

Since I’ve already written about how to choose accessories that work in harmony with your body and facial features, I will simply say that this advice applies to jewelry, probably more so than any other accessory (apart from prints) because most jewelry is worn so close to the face, and also because by its nature it attracts attention. So, when picking your jewelry, remember your own facial geometry, coloring, scale, symmetry, texture, and visual complexity.

Don’t automatically buy what “goes” with the items in your closet if you don’t feel confident about your wardrobe. It doesn’t mean that you need to have a complete and perfect wardrobe before you start buying jewelry, but it does mean that you need to have a coherent picture in mind of clothes that work, and you should be in the process of building a wardrobe that fulfills all your style needs. In other words, you need to…

… make sure you have a style direction. You can use Jenny’s suggestions for brainstorming, or my advice here. Whatever your process is, before you go out there and spend a penny on jewelry (or any accessory or clothing item, really), make sure you not only know what flatters you physically, but also have an idea of what stylistic flair your wardrobe will have. Bring that collage, or that list of words you brainstormed, with you to the store, and allow yourself to be inspired.

Accessories, and jewelry in particular, are highly creative. They pack a punch; think of them as pieces that are highly charged with energy and have the power to “make” an outfit, transform it from something simple into something unique. Don’t miss this opportunity to make a statement to the world about who you are.

Once you have an idea of your physicality and your style direction, I encourage you to harmonize your jewelry with your wardrobe. I also suggest you avoid buying jewelry that you will only wear once. In fact, if you follow my suggestions, you won’t really have to waste money on things that you’ll only wear once  because all the pieces you buy will harmonize with you, and with each other!

A good tip to harmonize your jewelry is to look at what prints, colors, and shapes dominate your wardrobe. Do you see a lot of teals and greens? Then, chances are you’ll be looking for those colors in jewelry (jade, turquoise, emerald). This way, one pair of earrings can go with several of your outfits. Do you enjoy clothes that have a natural, organic feel? Look for nature influences in jewelry. An art nouveau inspired necklace, or a pair of feather earrings, will work equally well with a linen suit or a bohemian maxi dress.

In the beginning, while you’re still figuring out your style, I suggest you practice a lot before buying by going into stores and trying on jewelry. If you do buy, avoid making investment purchases until you know exactly what you’re looking for.

How wearable is it? It seems an obvious suggestion, but sometimes we are so taken by a piece of jewelry that seems to fit every point on our internal style list that we buy it before considering its practical use. Do you work on a computer a lot? Chances are, those gorgeous bangle bracelets you just got will drive you crazy on the first day. Do you wear your long hair down most of the time? Then those lovely earrings that match your hair color will become almost completely useless to you (there is a lovely pair of bronze colored chandelier earrings languishing in my jewelry box that prove this point). Consider your way of life and routine habits before you buy your jewelry, because no matter how gorgeous it is, if it interferes with your life, you will not wear it enough to justify the investment.

Come to know jewelry designers and their esthetic. There are several designers on my list that I check out first when I need to buy jewelry. Chances are, if you like a designer’s clothing line, you will like their jewelry. Keep an eye out; even if a label isn’t creating jewelry now, you can bet that a successful clothing designer will start making their own jewelry sooner rather than later (for example, Elie Tahari, one of my favorites, recently came out with T Tahari, a line of affordable and gorgeous jewelry).

Don’t forget about second hand stores, small boutiques, and craft fairs. Often you can find original and inexpensive jewelry that’s been pre-owned or hand made. You can even order custom made pieces made to your specifications that will be one of a kind and perfectly “you,” while also supporting the talents of your local craftspeople.

And finally, when you shop, don’t settle. Know what you want, and if you can’t find it immediately, keep looking. If you find something you love and it’s too expensive, keep a close watch for sales or discount websites. I’ve purchased some lovely pieces this way, most recently a pair of Amrita Singh earrings that retail for twice the amount I paid for them on ebay.

I hope these suggestions help you build a jewelry collection that is just perfect for you. As always, I look forward to your feedback. More installments in the Accessories 101 series coming soon!


One response to “Accessories 101: Jewelry

  1. Pingback: The Skinny on Belts | Cultivating Style·

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