Help me learn how to accessorize!
September 3, 2014 2:14 PM   Subscribe

I've mastered my personal sense of style, but I forget the "finishing details" - accessories - that tend to pull a look together. Give me your best tricks for figuring out what looks good together, and how to remember to actually put in on in the mornings when I'm half-asleep and getting ready for work before the caffeine's ready.

I can't believe I'm spending a question on this, but you've been really good to me, Mefites. So maybe you can help me out this time, too.

I'm a petite, plus-sized, curvy woman, probably of the apple-shaped persuasion. I'm half-Mexican, with dark brown, almost black curly/wavy hair, dark eyes, and pale-ish skin. Over the years, I've managed to cultivate a very distinct sense of style. I love bright colors paired with black, bold prints, and my favorite colors are red and a dark magenta-like pink. I also apparently look awesome in purple, blues, and dark forest greens. Jewel tones, bright rainbow colors, that kind of thing. I also favor extreme neutrals, like black and white and nothing but that. I don't like wearing brown, white, or navy blue. Pastel colors can sometimes wash me out.

I've managed to nail down a hair care routine that works for me. I like my personal style, and when I feel like it, I can do a decent job with my make-up. For the most part, though, I'm really kind of lazy/forgetful/rushed in the mornings.

I need help accessorizing. I have tons of great earrings, but after tearing my earlobe last year, I sort of stopped wearing them. Sometimes, I'll wear a cute clip in my hair, but mostly I forget about them. Or lose them. I have a jangle of bracelets and rings, but half the time, they lie forgotten on my dresser in the rush to get out the door. I'm also really hard on my accessories and don't wear pieces I really like because I inevitably break them.

So give me your best tricks and tips to keep accessories organized and quick hacks for how to pull an outfit from nice-to-outstanding with as little effort as possible.
posted by PearlRose to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (14 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
I have, in the past, actually put a post it on my bathroom mirror reminding me to put on bracelets before leaving my apartment. It helped to make it part of my getting dressed routine.
posted by ellieBOA at 2:18 PM on September 3, 2014

For me it's having small, understated, classic items that you wear everyday. Commit to those, get in the habit of wearing them, and then start mixing it up with different accessories. So for me, that means on any given day I'll be sporting my pearl studs, rose gold watch, and rose gold ring - if I need to punch up my outfit, I'll swap in statement earrings or lose the ring in favor of a statement necklace.

I keep my earrings next to my floss and my watch and ring next to my keys, so I'm always reminded to accessorize. And my statement/non-standard jewelry all lives in a drawer together, so it's easy to sort through and find just the right piece.
posted by schroedingersgirl at 2:19 PM on September 3, 2014 [2 favorites]

Location hacks are the only thing that work for me. My scarves live next to the landing strip where my purse sits so that I can grab them on my way out. I keep high rotation earrings (that I swap out regularly) next to my wedding ring so that I remember to put them on. Bracelets that I like to wear live next to my make-up so that they get put on as part of that routine. Going to my jewelry box and picking out things to wear is easily skipped and takes a bit too long.

If you find that you remember to put something on only after you leave the house, maybe tuck a couple of options into your purse or desk drawer to be put on when you remember.

My best hack is using my jewelry box for long-term storage and not day-to-day use. I put items I'm rotating in to active wearing next to other items that are already part of my routine. It's easier to piggy back them that way.
posted by quince at 2:34 PM on September 3, 2014

I have a silver dish in the bathroom, nearly at eye level when I turn away from the sink, where I stash my earrings*, necklace of the week, ring, watch, whatever else. I also tend to wear the same jewelry every day that goes with everything, so that helps, but maybe there are some key pieces that you could strategically place.

In terms of organizing, honestly I have a series of bowls for bigger/fun pieces (maybe these would work for bracelets? Or a flatter pottery dish?) and a couple of proper jewelry boxes, with slots for everything. I have a drawer for scarves and I keep a grey/silver pashmina near my bag because it matches pretty much everything. If you need to see something to wear it, you might have more luck with the kind of mesh screen jewelry organizers or tree-like wall kinds-- there are some for hair clips that might work well.

Admittedly I'm kind of a scarf enthusiast for pulling together outfits/hiding flaws and stains!

*usually a set of freshwater pearls and/or 14k gold studs from the exclusive Target jewelry counter, because they cost under $10 a pair but look much classier. I don't care as much if they dissolve or get lost.
posted by jetlagaddict at 2:34 PM on September 3, 2014

I have a few good statement necklaces, a few pairs of earrings (I need more now that my hair is short), and some subtle necklaces. My wrists are too small for bracelets.

I hang my necklaces on those command hooks in my closet. I also have a small plastic drawer set. So I say get some command hooks or other hooks and hang the jewelry up.

Then I plan my outfits the night before and hang any jewelry on the hanger with my clothes. Planning clothes the night before means less forgetting or figuring out what bra you need or finding matching socks... Uhg.

As a tip, have a variety of different color, length, and weights of necklaces. I get a lot of good stuff at nordstrom rack.
posted by Crystalinne at 2:57 PM on September 3, 2014 [1 favorite]

@ Crystalinne - Have you tried H&M for bracelets? They sell them in different sizes .

@ OP - Buy accessories that you love. You'll be more likely to remember to wear them. Start at the places where you buy your clothing; you'll have an easier time finding things that are in the same aesthetic ball park (White House Black Market and the abovementioned H&M are good examples of this).

I like to keep my collection of long, dangly necklaces on push-pin hooks in my closet. I see them every day when I'm getting dressed, and incorporate them into my outfit as I'm building it. Bracelets and earrings live in a hanging jewelry organizer with clear, vinyl pockets.
posted by Flipping_Hades_Terwilliger at 3:51 PM on September 3, 2014

So you have hangers and the hangers probably have like, skirts and cardigans and blouses. Over the neck of the hanger, slide a stack of bracelets and a scarf or necklace to go with the clothing item that hanger houses.
posted by DarlingBri at 4:02 PM on September 3, 2014 [1 favorite]

Since you're paying good attention to the color scheme of your outfits, do the same with your accessories. So, have one "set" of accessories to go with each color family of clothes you've got in your closet. Your red outfits? Red earrings, bracelet, scarf, hair clip, belt, necklace, even nail polish, etc.

When I say "red earrings" I don't necessarily mean they must all be red, but rather they all go with and compliment your red clothing, so maybe a touch of red and all the metallics coordinate or there's a great contrasting tone that runs through them all. For your bold black and whites, brightly colored accessories are really fun so you might like to mix up the colors but have one consistent material or texture.

Yeah, that's a lot of accessories. But what you do is pull a Coco Chanel and take at least one accessory off before you leave the house. That way you mix and match from within your accessory groups. One outfit gets a scarf and a belt, another gets a ring and a necklace, the third has coordinated nails and hair band. But you don't have to think about it beyond "these are the accessories that go with this outfit, pick two or three" in the morning.

As you build up your collection you can do things like different levels of formality - your "fancy" pink necklace, your "casual" pink necklace, your "business-like" pink necklace - all of which might not necessarily have any pink in them at all, but you know they're what you wear with your pink clothes. And of course, one piece can fit with multiple color families. A clean silver pendant might just be something you wear every day unless you pick a different necklace. A rainbowy beaded bracelet might be your "fun" item that doesn't match perfectly but you wear all the time anyway. For the most part accessories can get kind of a free pass as long as they please the wearer.

I don't have many tips about remembering to put things on, sorry. But I suppose if you wanted, you could take the color family idea and put each set in its own little box or on a hook or something and set them out when you pull out your clothes?
posted by Mizu at 4:30 PM on September 3, 2014 [2 favorites]

Pull your outfit and accessories together the night before.
posted by harrietthespy at 4:34 PM on September 3, 2014 [2 favorites]

As a fellow rushing-to-get-out-the-door person, that whole plan-your-outfit-and-hang-it-all-together-the-night-before thing is the only thing that works for me. With the way my mornings are, I can throw together a reasonably cute outfit in three minutes but I absolutely can't do the next-level stuff. The polished/put-together effect of being really well accessorized is really an effect of intention and thoughtfulness—and I sadly have found no way to get the effect without actually being intentional and thoughtful about it. So I do it at night, when I'm not rushed, and can play with some ideas without MUST GO NOW desperation.
posted by peachfuzz at 4:39 PM on September 3, 2014

You might try putting together a "neutral edit" of accessories: plain metal jewelry or clear stones, solid scarves in neutral colors, subtle hair clips, etc. If you keep these out or easily accessible, you could quickly spruce up an outfit without prior planning.

It also sounds like not using the pieces you really like is contributing to your accessories funk. Maybe commit to replacing inexpensive pieces when they break and repairing valuable ones? There's no point wearing unloved accessories -- I'd get rid of anything you're not wild about and keep only your favorites.
posted by The Giant Rat of Sumatra at 5:29 PM on September 3, 2014 [2 favorites]

One of my cousins is an artist, and she once told me that her theory of interior design was to buy what you like. The things you like all have the common denominator of you, and will therefore look good together.

I think the same thing applies to accessories. Buy scarves, costume jewelry, belts, etc. that you like. Then take them home and look at their colors, and choose one piece of clothing that has that color in it. Hang the accessory on the hanger with that thing, and you'll remember to wear it when you wear that thing. Over time, it will become habit to pause and think about which accessory to grab.

The other thing that helps me a lot is to just focus on one "third piece" -- you only need one jacket, or one scarf, or one belt to make clothes into an outfit. Add neutral jewelry onto that, and you're good.
posted by OrangeDisk at 6:23 PM on September 3, 2014 [1 favorite]

I have a bulletin board up in my vanity area and hang necklaces on pushpins so I can see everything all at once and not have to go hunting for anything.
posted by fingersandtoes at 8:31 PM on September 3, 2014

Could you get in the habit of picking an outfit at night? That routine would then include identifying all your accessories as well and placing them with the clothes so that you are literally getting dressed in everything when you get dressed.
posted by koahiatamadl at 10:42 PM on September 3, 2014

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