Yesterday on my Facebook Page, I asked my subscribers what their biggest accessorizing challenges were, with the promise that I would give them answers to their questions on my blog.  Originally, I had planned on answering a bunch of questions in a singular post, but received one question in particular that got a lot of likes and follow-up comments.  I decided to dedicate this entire post entry to answering just the question.


There is no one-size-fits-all answer to must-have accessories

Unfortunately, there is no simple answer to this question that would satisfy everyone’s needs, I’m sorry to say.  There are just too many variables, like lifestyle, budget, physical characteristics and personal style.  What would be a basic must-have to one person would not be to another.  Sure, I could just throw out some ideas that you’ve heard a million times before, like that every woman should own a set of pearls or hoop earrings, but it’s just not that simple.  That said, there are some classic items that I do think will never go out of style, things that you could consider if you felt that you needed them.  The goal is to be able to look at accessories that are considered classic and discern for yourself whether they make sense to purchase.

But how does one discern what classic accessories they need?  Let’s start here.

Knowing who you are determines what classic accessories are right for you

Here are some questions to ask yourself and consider before you go shopping for jewelry.

What is your style and what are you drawn to?

This may seem like such a simple question, but it will probably be the hardest one to answer because women struggle with this all the time.  If women relied more on their inner voices I think they would be better at determining this.  If you feel there is something wrong with you because you don’t know what your personal style is, don’t fret, there are some easy ways to discover this.

What is your lifestyle like?

Being clear on your lifestyle is important.  Knowing this can help you avoid purchasing things that would be considered classic to others but that you really don’t need.  One way to do this is to create a lifestyle pie chart that will help you get very clear on what percentage you spend doing each thing in your life and can help you determine how much of certain types of accessories you need.  Read more about the lifestyle pie chart and how to choose the right trends for your lifestyle, here.

What do you want to communicate to others through your image and appearance?

The next thing to think about is what exactly you want to communicate to others via your appearance and image.  Like it or not, first impressions matter and our image is the strongest way we communicate.  This is particularly important if you are a working woman, but also something to be mindful about in general because your image not only communicates and effects how others see you, but how you see yourself.  A great starting point for this exercise is to come up with your three buzzwords that describe how you want to feel in what you are wearing.  These adjectives can change from day-to-day.  When getting dressed, if you’re not feeling what you want to communicate to others, you’re not going to fool anyone, including yourself.

How much time do you want to spend accessorizing?

Lastly, how much time do you want to give to the act of accessorizing?  There is no right or wrong answer and nobody is gong to judge you if it’s .005 seconds.  Some people like to carefully curate a gorgeous outfit while others would rather get root canal.  However, one thing we all share is that we all want to look good.  Be honest with yourself before you start loading up on tricky accessories, tons of handbags that require frequent changes or a shoe closet the size of my small Brooklyn apartment.  This may just not be you.

Accessories change quickly because they are supposed to

Going back to the question asked of me on my Facebook Page. It was mentioned that accessories styles change quickly.  This is definitely right, they do.  But this is because accessories are supposed to change frequently.  The whole idea of accessorizing is to add finishing touches to outfits, or as I like to say, ” to be the spice that flavors your chicken.”  Accessories are what make our basics look new again and keep our wardrobes looking updated without having to trash them and start over.  Yes, classic accessories do exist, but it’s the more novelty accessories in our wardrobe that keep things interesting and ever-changing.  My feeling is to have a small percentage of accessories be classic and leave the remaining amount for the fun stuff.

Accessories are like clothing- you have the classics and then you have the novelty

This brings me to my next point.  When it comes to accessories, you have your classic pieces and you have your novelty pieces, just like you do your clothing in your closet.  You don’t want to go too heavy in either direction because you need both.  An outfit decked out in all novelty accessories will be a distracting visual overload, while a an outfit accessorized in just basics can get boring.  What you want is balance, perhaps an opposite approach to a classic to novelty clothing ratio of 60% classic clothing and 40% novelty.  For accessories, a 60% novelty 40% classic might be better.  But it all depends, there is no right answer to this, which is why answering the questions above for yourself is so important.  Given the very classic nature of my wardrobe, my accessories are more like 80% novelty and 20% classic, for example.  I rely heavily on my accessories to give my clothes their flavor.

The classic accessories to consider

Speaking specifically about jewelry, here are some classic accessories to consider adding to your wardrobe along with my tips on why you might benefit from owning them.

One long gold or silver necklace

Benefits: Definitely benefits everyone, from those who can care less about to accessorizing to those who enjoy it and want something more understated to go with the novelty pieces they are wearing.  A long gold or silver necklace is just easy.  Plus, you can always double it up and make it a shorter double strand necklace.

Novelty drop earrings in gold or silver

Benefits: I have a pair of gold novelty earrings that are simple enough to go with everything. I find I grab them all the time when I want to keep things more understated but want more of a kick than a classic pair of hoops will provide.

Jewelry in green

Benefits: As I like to say, “when in doubt, go green.”  While everything else on this list has been gold or silver (your choice), if you want to venture out with some color start with green.  It’s one of those magical colors that complements whatever you may be wearing, from somber neutrals to colorful outfits and even prints.  Start with green if you are going to start with color.

Stud earrings

Benefits: I actually recommend studs more for people who enjoy accessorizing than for people who don’t.  People who hate accessorizing often fall into the “I wear these studs everyday” slump.  While this is okay, it’s also terribly boring and I would rather see them wear a pair of novelty gold or silver earrings.  Where I like a simple pair of gold or silver studs is when you want to wear earrings but don’t want them to distract from the other novelty jewelry pieces you may be wearing, like chunky necklaces.

One bracelet

Benefits: Having at least one gold or silver bracelet on hand is smart.  Throwing a few extra dollars towards a nice one isn’t a bad idea.  However, I have found that some professional women hate them because they get in the way while working.  Again, this is why you need to create your own lifestyle pie chart to see just how badly you could benefit from having one basic bracelet.  Also, use your lifestyle pie chart to consider the type of bracelet you need, if you need one at all.  For example, a corporate woman may hate a bracelet for work but also attends a lot of evening functions.  In this case a dressier bracelet may be the better choice.

There is no right answer

Keep in mind, these are only some suggestions to get you started, plus these are just the classic suggestions, not everything you need.   You may also read through these and feel that  there are accessories that you think I should have considered or omitted.   There really is no right answer but the one that is right for you.  However, use this list as a guidepost to get you thinking about accessories and, more importantly, use  the key tips shared earlier to get you thinking in the right direction on deciding for yourself what your own classic accessories are.

Do you have classic jewelry pieces that you would be lost without?  Let me know below!