blue and pink and brown and and and
October 14, 2014 11:19 AM   Subscribe

How should I accessorize a solid colored dress without looking like a mismatched bag lady?

Yes, it's another "I have to go to a wedding what do I even doooooo" question.

I'm wearing this dress to a wedding in a couple of weeks. Both because it's a relatively nice event and because it's late October (in New Mexico, though), I can't style the dress the way it is in this photo, just with a simple pair of sandals.

My original plan was to pair the dress with a deep brown velvet blazer, and to wear brown shoes, and call it a day. But of course life is never that simple when you suck as badly as I do at performing femininity.

I didn't find any brown shoes I liked, but I did end up picking up this pair of pale pink (really almost beige) wedges. But, OK, the shade of pink looks gorgeous with the peacock blue dress, and a pale shoe is leg lengthening, and hell, they're very comfortable.

But then I realized, blue dress, brown jacket, pink shoes. That's a lot of different colors. And all solids that don't really relate to each other.

I tried on the dress and realized, hm, this needs something. A belt? Yes, a belt. (especially perfect since the neckline looks good with approximately zero necklaces I own or have tried on.) I thought I had a belt with a pretty southewestern pattern in just the right colorway to pull the whole look together. Searched high and low. Apparently I no longer have this miracle belt. I have a cognac leather belt that looks great with the dress, the shoes, and the jacket individually, but adds yet another unrelated solid color to the whole outfit.

Four random solid colored things that look moderately OK together but not as a cohesive "look" sent me into a tailspin and now I just cannot even handle what the fuck to do with this entire situation. I'm thinking of going back to the drawing board and shopping for a different dress. Or maybe a different jacket/cardigan type thing? Or a burqa? Maybe a hazmat suit?

I don't have a ton of money to spend on this, and frankly it's not that important. (My only real concern is that this is a family wedding and there will probably be pictures, and the pictures will be Teh Family Pictures.) But if there's some obvious "get this cardigan" or "belts are overrated" solution I haven't thought of, please lay it on me. I would also really love links to photos of how other people have handled similar solid/solid/solid/solid color combinations.
posted by Sara C. to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (21 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Would a shawl solve the temperature issue? (Gray, teal or dusty rose -- may be able to find a more affordable option out there too.) I'd try a metallic/silver skinny belt and some silver drop earrings as accessories if you went that route.
posted by typecloud at 11:30 AM on October 14, 2014 [1 favorite]

Skinny black belt (should be less than $10 at Target). Plain black pumps/wedges/slides. Pearls. Pretty hair. Bam. You've been wedding-ed!

If it gets cold have a [faux] leather jacket on your arm, also black -- or another somewhat dressy black jacket.
posted by rogerrogerwhatsyourrvectorvicto at 11:31 AM on October 14, 2014

If you could find a nice patterned pashmina that incorporates the pinky shoe color, the cognac belt color, AND some version of the dress color, that might help to draw the outfit together a bit. Lots of lovely pashminas on Ebay, plus (weirdly) IME craft stores tend to carry these.

Alternately, you could ditch the belt and just get another that's more in line with the shoes-- shell, or champagne (Target has cheapies in a rainbow of colors). I think the blazer might be a non-starter at this point: with such light shoes on the bottom, a big block of dark color at the top is going to look unbalanced. But once you get the belt matching the shoes, finding a coverup in the beige/shell/champagne family shouldn't be that hard. To keep the whole thing from feeling blocky, maybe pair with some conspicuous jewelry that's either metal-toned or multicolored, drawing in elements of the shoe and dress colors.
posted by Bardolph at 11:32 AM on October 14, 2014 [1 favorite]

I don't know about a brown blazer for a wedding, it seems very work-y even if it is velvet, and also velvet seems too heavy for such a light dress.

If I were you, I'd keep the shoes, get a cream cardigan (at Forever21 this would be like $15), and belt it with a pale pink belt.
posted by showbiz_liz at 11:32 AM on October 14, 2014 [13 favorites]

That's a lovely dress and a great colour. But a dark brown velvet blazer sounds too heavy and structured to wear with a floaty dress like that. I'd keep the shoes and belt and instead buy a shrug or tailored cardigan in a colour that ties them together. Pink to match the shoes if it's not too pale to have near your face, or a lighter cognac to blend between the belt and shoes, or possibly a darker colour of the beige in the heels of the shoes. That kind of thing. Probably not more blue or something totally different like purple, but even the right soft mid-brown could work.

A shrug might not be the best option depending on your style (personally I love them and have several), but I think there's something possible to tie it all together there. You can have four colours as long as the style and feel of all the pieces match, so there is some kind of sense despite the colours. So a top that's softer like the dress and a colour that's not heavy or discordant will work.
posted by shelleycat at 11:33 AM on October 14, 2014

No - brown and rose beige are both your "basic" neutral colours for accessorizing. Brown, beige, and black.

Ideally you would make sure you wore your brown accessories together, or at least that they all had some brown in them. But it's fine to combine a brown velvet blazer with rose beige shoes.

To really pull it together, get a pale pink/beige fabric rose from a haberdasher's and pin it to the blazer as a brooch. Maybe even get some brown clip earrings or barrettes and use them as shoe clips.

If you really want to switch something I suggest looking for shoes in a brown fabric, but it's not needed.

Just don't let me catch you wearing black with that jewel-toned dress. If you wear black with it I'll find you and I'll hurt you.
posted by tel3path at 11:35 AM on October 14, 2014

Yeah, and all the suggestions for shawls are great. Shawls are good, shawls are cheap, shawls are versatile.

I'd have to see the blazer to rule on whether it's wrong with the dress, but in principle it doesn't sound wrong to me.
posted by tel3path at 11:36 AM on October 14, 2014

I think that dress needs a chunky necklace more than a belt, especially if it will be in teh family pictures. Although if we must be belt-having, a skinny metallic belt is a good idea.
posted by sweetkid at 11:38 AM on October 14, 2014 [2 favorites]

Brown blazer of any cut plus that dress = bad idea. Go with a shawl in a lighter version of the dress's base color and move forward with the shoes and a classy chunky necklace.
posted by Hermione Granger at 11:38 AM on October 14, 2014 [7 favorites]

N'thing cardigan (light color cream/blush/beige) or shawl instead of a heavy blazer with that dress. Personally I think a long drop necklace would look good, but a chunky one might be nice too. I'm not sure about belts for weddings but if I did that I'd go for skinny metallic (silver or rose). Nice hair, too, yes.
posted by celtalitha at 11:46 AM on October 14, 2014

Suggestions, examples of the right sort of chunky necklace?

I am accessory challenged.

A lighter shawl or cardigan is a great idea, and totally doable. I honestly wasn't loving the blazer with the dress when I tried them on together, but tried very hard to convince myself that it was a good idea.

I tried a long drop necklace, but it got lost in the drapeyness of the front of the dress.
posted by Sara C. at 11:46 AM on October 14, 2014 [1 favorite]


For illustration purposes, I'm gonna stick to Madwell stuff, where you got that admittedly awesome dress. Apologies if this shit is pricey!

Version 1:

This belt.
This necklace.
This simple clutch.
These shoes.

Version 2:

This neckerchief.
This cuff.
Eh, same shoes.

Version 3:

This necklace.
This ox-blood colored clutch.
These crazy-patterned shoes.

For any of these versions, I can't recommend Aritzia's blazers enough!

Good luck and memail me if you wanna shoot links back and forth.
posted by functionequalsform at 11:47 AM on October 14, 2014 [5 favorites]

No to the blazer. You're not going to the office. A shrug, a shawl, a collarless leather biker jacket like this. Oh dear, I think the cork wedgy sandals are too summery as well.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 11:48 AM on October 14, 2014 [1 favorite]

Nthing a blush or cream shawl or pashmine to match the shoes. Rose-gold toned jewelry (a chunky necklace and drop earrings) would bring out the pale pink of your shoes. Perhaps a rose gold clutch and earrings if you're not a necklace person like myself.
posted by Everydayville at 11:53 AM on October 14, 2014

Re "too summery", this wedding is in New Mexico. Looking at the ten-day forecast, highs are in the 70s, and every day is going to be sunny. It's an outdoor daytime wedding.

It seems rather silly to start from scratch with a deep, heavy, autumnal look just because Joan Rivers is looking down from the afterlife and sobbing about my non-seasonal footwear.

Will stop threadsitting now.
posted by Sara C. at 11:54 AM on October 14, 2014 [3 favorites]

Re: necklace, I like this suggestion from functionequalsform and will also throw in this one which is also interesting and shimmery and cute. Maybe with a gold belt? Shoes are fine as is.
posted by sweetkid at 12:03 PM on October 14, 2014 [1 favorite]

That dress is lovely!! And I agree with the above posters who say no to the blazer. No blazer. Get a shawl, or even a comfortable fleece or jacket for the non-photographed moments. Don't worry so much about your outer layer. If you never find an outer layer you love, that's okay--just shed it for photo times and then resume being comfortable. I went to an outdoor wedding a couple of weeks ago, much farther north, and everyone was freezing. The crowd was awash in Patagonia and insulated jackets, and it was perfectly fine.

You've got one big color and some neutrals in the mix. I'd consider the shoes neutral. If this were me, I'd pick a metal (gold/gold-tone or copper/copper-tone) and accessorize with that, and leave the rest alone. If you're sweating the accessories, you don't have to wear them. Personally, I always admire a minimalist approach to formalwear (channeling Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy).
posted by magdalemon at 12:05 PM on October 14, 2014

I don't think that beautiful dress needs much accessorising. If you're stuck for jewellery, try wearing a fresh flower in your hair instead.

For the top layer I'd go with something that drapes. Have you considered a haori? Much more special than a cardigan and for the money you'll have an amazing piece of loungewear afterwards.
posted by Elizabeth the Thirteenth at 2:32 PM on October 14, 2014

Get yourself over to Nordstrom Rack. They have tons of pashminas, belts, and other accessories; you're sure to find what you need for under $100.
posted by vignettist at 11:07 AM on October 15, 2014

New Mexico is warm! I would wear strappy delicate high heel sandals, a silk flower brooch (like 5" wide - found at accessories stores or make your own with a hot glue gun and a pin) in either blue or cream at either one shoulder or at the waist, grab a cream shawl. Usual evening bag. I think it would be enough as that dress has some drama on its own.
posted by Lornalulu at 6:54 PM on October 15, 2014

I picked up a sort of oatmeal/sand colored lightweight cardigan and a sparkly gold belt. On the day, I may use the belt or a turquoise statement necklace I have that I previously thought didn't go, or maybe both.

I am packing the brown blazer for in case I'm cold at the end of the night, but it'll be strictly outerwear and likely left in the car.

Thanks for the advice! Now if I could just figure out what elusive clothing can do double duty for both a flight and a rehearsal dinner...
posted by Sara C. at 8:28 PM on October 19, 2014

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