Magazines tell us that the key to a great outfit is the accessories. A belt to cinch in the waist. A necklace to draw the eye. A scarf to add colour. So, in an attempt to make our high-street clothes stand out from everyone else’s, we buy different types of jewellery. Pendants to chokers. Bracelets to bangles. Studs to hoops. But how often do we really wear them in real life? I remember when my son was a baby, having to remove all dangly jewellery to avoid being strangled and/or having my earrings yanked out.
I love scarves, and own several. I see women looking stylish and put together, wearing classy scarves in the right way. But when I try it, I somehow end up looking like I have raided a dressing up box. Youtube is full of “how to wear a scarf” video tutorials, that in itself tells us how seriously people take their accessories. Belts are a weakness of mine, along with shoes and bags, I have an accessories drawer in my dressing table that is filled with belts and scarves. I am drawn to tan belts for some reason, and have at least 6, in different styles and types. Plaited narrow belts, wide waist cinchers, mix of pleather and fabric… the list goes on.
The right accessories can make or break an outfit. If your clothes are a statement, your accessories are the subtext. They set you aside from everyone else who bought the same dress, top, skirt, jeans or jacket, and tell everyone what type of person you really are.
A simple, demure shift dress for work can be worn with seamed tights, red shoes and a red waist cincher to tell the world (or at least the office) that you have a wild side. You are passionate and sexy. Above all else, you are an individual.
A pair of jeans and a vest can be worn with wooden beads, a pair of wedges and tan plaited belt to remind yourself that in college you considered yourself to be an activist. You cared passionately about things aside from the PTA and school closures, they remind you that you are still that person, deep down.
In a world where clothes are mass-produced and sold cheaply in almost every town, the way you wear it (whatever “it” might be) is more important than labels or material. The accessories market is worth billions, and as the world struggles out of recession, luxury goods are being avoided in favour of low-cost alternatives. Tv and music stars have a huge amount of influence over what we buy. Remember the “Carrie” SATC necklace that inspired a generation? An updated twitter inspired alternative was recently highlighted on The Accessories Council blogpost regarding upcoming trends, it won’t be long until they appear on the highstreet, in fact, a quick search of handmade site Etsy shows several shops selling them.
That’s the beauty of accessories, not only do they personalise your outfit, but they are also an inexpensive way to follow fast moving trends. A way the average Josephine can updatetheir wardrobe to stay current. Some people take classes to learn how to make their own jewellery, Jo Mollart-Highfield of Tig Designs (and the woman who made the necklace at the top of this post) did just that and now sells her products online, with her own hallmark and everything. She says “I chose jewellery because I lovehandmade silver jewellery but could never find the exact item I wanted, so decided to make my own”, she makes jewellery to customers specifications, so you are guaranteed true individuality. Of course, you need to have a talent for design, I certainly couldn’t do it, but most colleges run workshops and evening classes. If you aren’t brave enough to make your own, many highstreet shops sell great, inexpensive accessories. Including Warehouse, Accessorize, Claires Accessories and Asos.
Then there’s the sentimental jewellery. The pearls you wear on your wedding day, the locket that belonged to gran, your wedding rings… these items say more about you than anything else, because of their link to your past. In the, sadly too frequent, cases of burgulary, the theft of jewellery to which you attach sentimental value hurts the victim far more than the theft of standard consumerables. So, when you get dressed and you look at your collection of necklaces, earrings, bracelets, scarves, shoes and bags, ask yourself: Who am I today? Who do I want to be? And unleash your inner sexbomb/anarchist/tribalist to the world. After all, its the real you!