Jewelry of Flattering Scale

Almost every ensemble becomes more polished with the addition of tasteful jewelry –  jewelry that is not only cohesive with the ensemble itself — the garments, shoes, handbag and any other accessories — but also flattering to the person wearing it.

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I was struck by this ad from a high-end design house, which features an exquisite suite of ruby and diamond jewelry. The beautiful model wears two chunky rings, a tennis-style bracelet, and a pair of earrings.

The model has generously sized features — eyes, nose and mouth. Consider how the jewelry selections relate to her. While the other pieces of jewelry in the photo have plenty of presence, the earrings are quite delicate –  too delicate to be flattering to the woman, as lovely as they are. The slender linear design of the earrings has the effect of drawing attention to the model’s nose and making it appear relatively larger.

This effect could be easily remedied by having the model wear earrings of a design more akin to the chunky design of the rings. Changing the scale of the earrings would be more flattering to the woman.

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The Brooch Is Back

There’s something special about a look when you can personalize it and make it uniquely your own. Whether professional wear suiting, bold graphic designs, military-inspired khaki, or pretty floral dresses are your cup of tea, a quick way to add pizzazz to your look is with a brooch. Stylists have been adding brooches to add interest to fashion photographs over the last several months, and this trend holds strong this spring.

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For instance, the February 2017 issue of Harper’s Bazaar has a 10-page spread devoted to bold, graphic prints, and adorns four of the black and white looks with brooches. Above, a bold polka dot dress from Dolce & Gabbana serves as the backdrop for a fabulous De Beers Diamond spray brooch.

0317 brooch Feb HB Lynn Ban brooc on Stella McCartney REV

In the same issue, a “message” dress, top, leggings and shoes by Stella McCartney receive added edge from earrings and a Maltese cross style brooch from Lynn Ban.

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The February 2017 issue of Marie Claire features a selection of two-tone metal brooches from Buccellati in a feature focusing on retro floral prints.

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The January 2017 issue of Elle suggests that “Sparkly pins are more punk than prim when they veer off jackets and onto rocker tees.” The brooches spotlighted in the piece vary in price from a message brooch in rhinestones from BAN.DO at $10 to a $22,700 flower clip from Van Cleef & Arpels.

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The April 2017 issue of Real Simple demonstrates how to wear a brooch on the lapel of a trench coat or jacket. In the photo above, a jacket from J. Crew is accented with a pin from White House Black Market.

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In the December 2016 issue of Marie Claire, models Doutzen Kroes, Imaan Hammam, Fernanda Ly and Constance Jablonski demonstrate a variety of ways to wear a spectacular elephant head brooch from Tiffany & Co. The brooch, based upon an archival Jean Schlumberger design, was re-issued by Tiffany & Co. in support of the Elephant Crisis Fund, which raises awareness of the plight of those magnificent animals killed for their ivory tusks.

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The December 2016/January 2017 issue of Harper’s Bazaar recommends in its selection of what to buy now, an antique brooch. Pictured is a lovely piece from Cartier, but all manner of exquisite budget-minded designs are readily available on eBay. Considering the extraordinary versatility and sheer delight of these lovely pieces of wearable art, whether fine or faux , I couldn’t agree more.

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Not So Hot Under the Collars

Wide collar-style necklaces may have an aesthetic appeal, but they are notoriously difficult to wear, as recent fashion photographs confirm.

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Actress Zoe Kravitz makes the best-dressed list in the November 2015 issue of InStyle. One of the photos pictures her at the Guggenheim International Gala Dinner wearing a white crop top and split skirt from Dior, accented with a thick pearl collar necklace with an enormous blue cabochon. The necklace separates her head from her body, almost making it appear to be pasted onto the photograph, just a tad larger than might be expected for such a slender frame. The unfortunate accessory distracts the eye and makes it look as though she has no neck.

1115 collar InStyle Hailee Steinfeld in Stella McCartney Jennifer Fisher neck cuff REV

Better  is this look, also pictured in the November 2015 issue of InStyle declared to be the “best dress” of the issue. Actress Hailee Steinfeld wears a Stella McCartney ensemble with flared pants and cape, again in solid white, accented with a wide Jennifer Fisher collar.  The actress has a slender neck, long enough to accommodate the necklace, and its plain design complements the sleek look of her ensemble. With the wide shoulders of the cape, her face appears to be in proportion to the rest of her body.

1115 collar story InStyle Drew Barrymore long neck Etro choker REV

The ideal neck length for any wide collar-style necklace is long, longer, longest. Actress Drew Barrymore, pictured in the November 2015 issue of InStyle, demonstrates how this might look. Indeed, she is pictured in a Dior dress and coat from The Row accessorized with a slender metal choker from Etro. This is a look that can accommodate much more of a statement piece on the actress’s neck.

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For the vast majority of women with average or short necks, slender metal collars are a far better choice than a thick collar. The same issue of InStyle spotlights four examples of cuff-style collars that are narrow and have an opening in the front. The exposed skin on the neck is a look flattering to most everyone.

Awkward Necklaces

“Necklaces should always be chosen with the neckline you’ll be wearing in mind. ” Thus I concluded my blog post in September 2013, ” Necklines & Necklaces:  The Issue When Everything Is the Same Perfect Length.”

A spate of recent examples in the fashion press of necklaces not chosen to coordinate with necklines prompts my post today.

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A pair of examples derive from the same fashion spread in the March 2015 issue of More magazine. The first example pairs a thin rigid collar necklace with a drop, visually creating a Y-shape, with an overly large knit tee shirt that looks to be puckering rather than lying flat. The necklace hangs awkwardly over the neckline of the tee, further drawing attention to the problematic neckline. The top was not chosen with consideration for the necklace or the model. In my opinion, the necklace is also too delicate a design for the model, who is tall and has strong features.

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A substantial necklace more flattering to the model appears in the second photo, but again here, the neckline of the ensemble clashes with the necklace. The necklace, with its rigid chunky lattice design, is placed over the vee shape of the neckline, creating a jarring visual effect. The lovely flowing lines of the ensemble would be much better served with a long pendant necklace, which would extend the vee of the neckline.

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My final example is modeled by actress Kelly Ripa, whose necklace dips to meet the neckline of her camisole in this photo from the March 2015 issue of Shape magazine. The necklace is just about at the sweet spot of her first balance point, as is her neckline. The result: a visual clash. The necklace looks droopy, not an adjective that any woman of a certain age wants to embrace. Shortening the necklace a couple of inches, or choosing a different necklace at a shorter collar length, would make all the difference.

Jewelry for Women of a Certain Age

Jewelry purchase decisions encompass a wealth of factors, including:

  • For what occasions is the jewelry to be worn (spanning the range from daily wear to gala occasions).
  • With what apparel will it be worn (considering the style of the clothing and its design details).
  • What styles of jewelry are most flattering to the wearer ( considering such factors as scale and color).
  • What styles suit the personality of the wearer (from classic to singularly quirky).

Quite beyond all those factors is another consideration:  What makes sense as a fashion investment. Rare is the individual who does not need to be mindful of her budget. As with most purchases, what is cheapest is not synonymous with what provides the best value for one’s money.

What is of-the-moment trendy — immediately recognizable designs that have achieved cult status and seem ubiquitous for a season or two in the fashion press – will inevitably look tired and dated soon enough. If you want to wear one huge single earring because the fashion editors have embraced that trend right now, that’s fine, but rather than shelling out significant dollars for a single piece, consider purchasing a pair of identical huge earrings that either may be wearable as a set or possibly may be adaptable into a fresh look by a clever jeweler when the trend has finished its course.

What is incomprehensible to me is the promotion of inexpensive jewelry designs that riff off current trends but don’t merit cult status, when the promotion is directed to women of a certain age who have financial wherewithal. The September 2014 issue of More magazine is rife with this type of promotion.

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In your 40s, advises the editors, “become the boss–or just dress like her.” As to jewelry, “Embrace delicate,” urges the magazine. The jewelry selected to wear with the pulled together “multitasking looks” is a $40 metal cuff accented with crystals. The wide cutout style requires a wide expanse of arm, and would not work well with long-sleeved apparel such as the print wool-blend coat pictured. The missed opportunity: A lovely slender bracelet with a tasteful, daytime-appropriate sprinkle of pave diamonds on genuine gold or silver. That’s something the boss might actually wear.

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In your 50s, “dress to please yourself” suggest the editors, adding “You’ve earned the right to wear whatever feels best.” The jewelry selected:  An attractive but uncomfortable to wear square bracelet that has a modest $225 price tag.

0914 bad jewelry exception Lulu Frost necklace 60s More REV

In your 60s, “break with tradition:  stop sticking to safe (yes, you) and show the world you’re full of surprises.” As to jewelry, “update your pearls” suggest the editors — excellent advice in this season of extraordinary designs that incorporate pearls. The first of two recommendations is a $588 necklace of brass, crystal and glass pearls in an eye-catching design from Lulu Frost that merits consideration.

0914 bad jewelry faux pearl studs 60s More REV

The second of two recommendations is something entirely off the mark:  a $28 pair of earrings incorrectly described as “12k gold-plated brass and pearl studs.” The earrings do not contain pearls — the pearls are faux, as one might expect from the price. The man-made pearl-like orbs are set on top of square backings. There is nothing whatsoever surprising about this design.

Why is a magazine that targets women of means promoting a $28 pair of faux-pearl earrings? A pair of freshwater cultured pearl stud earrings can be had for under $12 on Amazon.com.

Does anyone aspire to a jewelry wardrobe of inexpensive gold-plated — or worse, gold-tone metal — designs with faux gems and nothing-special style? Dress like the boss. Dress to please yourself. And show the world you’re full of surprises. Don’t settle.

What’s in your jewelry box?

Earrings & Beyond: The New World of Ear Adornment

If your jewelry wardrobe hasn’t been refreshed in a while, you may be surprised at the number and variety of developments in jewelry design that have made this an exciting time to explore new looks in jewelry. Although cutting edge, most of these designs are eminently wearable. The most significant developments reflect a new approach to adornment.

Earrings have taken new directions quite literally — moving upward and extending over a larger portion of the ears. With this new direction comes new terminology.

The initial groundbreaking forays into fresh adornment of the ears may be attributed to Dior, whose Mise en Dior front-back style earrings were ubiquitous in the fashion press in the autumn of 2013. I wrote about this style on October 2, 2013 in my post about stud earrings in my TrulyJewelry.com blog:

“One creative rethinking of stud earring design that has received a great deal of editorial attention is the Mise en Dior earring collection from Dior. The earrings are designed much like men’s cufflinks, with a small glass pearl on one end and a larger, more colorful bead on the other. The earrings are worn with the smaller of the beads in front of the ear with the larger one behind. The resulting look is fresh and unexpected.”

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Illustration:  Emma Watson wearing Mise en Dior earrings at the 2014 Golden Globes.

Notice that the Mise en Dior earring brings the front bottom of the earlobe slightly into prominence, a design that may not be flattering on large earlobes.

By the spring of 2014, earring jackets were back in the fashion spotlight in a big way. Traditionally, earring jackets are flat disks or other designs placed behind stud earrings, giving them more presence on the ears. They are affixed at the front of the ear. I wrote in my post on the new earring jackets in April 2014:

“”Ear jackets,” otherwise known as “stud earring jackets” or simply “earring jackets,” an add-on accessory for stud earrings, are receiving notice for their style potential this season. The latest styles go beyond designs that expand the perimeter of the stud earrings with which they are worn. They may attach to the earring posts behind the ears and may be worn singly for extra edginess.”

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“The April 7, 2014 issue of People magazine spotlights the ear jacket on the Style Watch page, reporting:  “The newest trend in ear candy is the ‘jacket’ which dangles from the post of a stud and is held in place with the earring back. Kate Mara wore a spiked gold one and completed the look by adding that other of-the-moment piece of jewelry: an ear cuff.“”

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Illustration:  A close-up of the Jacquie Aiche ear jacket worn by Kate Mara.

In my post on June 2, 2014, I noted that the meaning of the term “front-back earrings” had expanded to include what looked very much like the new style of earring jackets:

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“The June 2014 issue of People Style Watch confirms that front-back earrings have become a new category of ear adornment. Featuring styles from Forever 21, ASOS, Rebecca Minkoff, and GoJane, the magazine notes: “These fun pairs add a touch of color, sparkle or cuteness–it’s a party from every angle!”"

The distinction between front-back earrings and earring jackets in the new sense of the term, generally seems to be that the earring jacket is generally worn on one ear only. In addition, many earring jackets appear to cradle the outside edge of the ear, whereas front-back earrings do not relate to the shape of the ear.

Speaking of styles worn on one ear only, this widely reported trend likely started with the second groundbreaking change in direction of the adornment of ears, with ear cuffs. This trend took off in 2013, as I wrote in an October 2013 blog post:

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Illustration:  report on ear cuffs in the October 2013 issue of InStyle magazine

“[T]he outer edge of the ear is the focus of the latest styles of jewelry for the ears. Some designs attach to the top or side edge of the ear; others hang over and around the entire ear. The designs are sometimes seen worn on one ear, sometimes on both ears, providing even more variety. All of these designs are referred to as “ear cuffs.”"

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“Ear cuffs are very much a fine jewelry phenomenon, not just a street trend. Writing in the September 2013 issue of Harper’s Bazaar, Emily Cronin writes, “what women want from jewelry is evolving. ‘Women are trying to find a different way to wear fine jewelry, where it’s not just the statement watch, the statement bracelet, and diamond studs,” says jewelry designer Jennifer Fisher. Instead designers like Fisher, Eva Zuckerman of Eva Fehren, Ana Khouri, Irene Neuwirth, Jennifer Meyer, Hoorsenbuh’s Robert Keith, Gaia Repossi, and Anita Ko are energizing the genre with pieces that are more than future heirlooms: From ear-climbing earrings to sleek modern bangles, they are a chance to express your style every day, no matter the dress code.””

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Illustration:  vintage ear climber earrings

Given the interest in adorning a larger portion of the ear, the vintage earring style that curves upward along the ear is finding a new renaissance in what are now termed “ear-climbing earrings,” or “ear climbers.” Quite fabulous mid-Century versions, usually in clip-on style, can be had for a fraction of the cost of the new pieces.

Front-back style earrings, earring jackets, ear cuffs and ear climbers:  these are all part of the sea change in jewelry design for the ears. There’s yet more for me to report, which will follow in an upcoming post.

 

How Not to Conceal a Tummy: The Necklace Effect (Repost from My TrulyJewelry.com Blog)

A note to my TrulyBecoming.com blog followers:  I hope you have discovered my new jewelry blog that launched in late 2013 at www.TrulyJewelry.com – it focuses on “the what, why and how of wearing jewelry well.” (TM)  Here’s today’s post, which provides useful tips on how to (and how not to) conceal a tummy.

The haphazard addition of jewelry to an ensemble can completely change its visual effect when it redirects the focus of the viewer. An excellent example of this result appears in the February 2014 issue of InStyle, in an article sharing “editors’ best shape secrets.”

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The above photograph purportedly demonstrates how to “conceal a tummy,” the editors stating: “To cover a muffin top without venturing into muumuu territory, skip fitted Ts in favor of loose, untucked designs, like this one. Styles with ruching, draping, or center-resting colorblocking all do your midsection favors.”

Skimming over what is perceived as a problematic portion of one’ s anatomy is more flattering than accentuating the area with a snug, fitted garment. The style of the T by Alexander Wang shirt is excellent, the three-quarter length sleeves also contributing to the visual effect of a more slender waist. Shiny silk satin, however, is an odd choice – its highly reflective surface makes the garment, and the wearer, appear larger.

But it is the necklace pictured that counters the flattering shape of the shirt. The necklace itself is lovely, a pendant design in fluorite and gold vermeil by Margaret Elizabeth. Slung over the model’s neck and spilling over the collar of the shirt, however, it distorts the neckline of the garment, making the collar and button placket wrinkle. (I addressed this issue in a blog post for JCK Magazine back in October 2009.)  Wearing the necklace over the shirt, under its collar, would be a less distracting option for combining the pendant necklace with the shirt. (Watch for more examples of this styling approach in an upcoming blog post.)

Consider what the pendant necklace visually accomplishes — it draws attention downward and points to the models’ stomach, exactly the part of her anatomy this ensemble is supposedly trying to conceal.

A better choice would be a short necklace that peeks out from under the collar of the shirt. A single-strand necklace would be ideal, keeping the neckline open and allowing the shirt to do its flattering work. A short necklace would also draw attention up to the face — and draw attention away from and help conceal the tummy.

 

The What, Why and How of Jewelry at www.TrulyJewelry.com

The holiday season is upon us, and for many, this is a season of more than the usual number of occasions that call for festive dress. Is there anyone who isn’t aware that even a much enjoyed, seemingly overused little black dress can be revived with the addition of some party-appropriate jewelry?  Or how even the most fabulous red carpet gown is enhanced with the addition of some stunning well-chosen jewels?

More than that, consider how a workday ensemble, whether that be a conservative tailored skirt suit or almost any style required for a casual wear work environment, receives a visual upgrade with the addition of some tastefully chosen jewelry.

Jewelry can add gravitas; it can add playfulness. It makes an ensemble immediately look more polished, as if it took more thought to put together. It draws attention to the  areas in which it is worn and emphasizes the wearer’s features or the details of her ensemble through the repetition of design elements such as color, texture and scale. Jewelry reflects the wearer’s personality. Beautifully made jewelry is essentially personal little works of art.

In short, jewelry is mighty powerful stuff. I hope that you, my readers, have discovered my new blog devoted entirely to the subject of jewelry, and the “what, why and how of wearing jewelry well.” You’ll find my new blog at www.trulyjewelry.com.  

Here’s a sampling of some of my recent posts:

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I invite you to take a look and to follow my posts there. Add comments. Ask questions. I think you’ll find trulyjewelry.com an exciting complement to the fashion advice and style discussions here at www.trulybecoming.com.

Plus Size Accessories: Jewelry That Fits & Flatters

The Plus-Size Style column by Ashley Falcon in the October 2013 issue of People Style Watch addresses a reader’s question: “How can I find jewelry and bags that fit and flatter a plus-size woman?”

It’s nearly impossible to condense all the advice one might give on the subject of jewelry that fits and flatters a full-figured woman on a single page (I’ve conducted entire workshops on the subject), but Falcon provides some valuable pointers. Here are my expanded comments and recommendations:

Bracelets:

Falcon suggests hinged bangles, which open in the middle to allow them to be put on easily, and open cuff-style bracelets, which have some give. She notes that regular bangles “tend to be too small–try plus stores like Lane Bryant or Avenue.”

Plus Size Jewelry 1013 PSW Ashley Falcon column REV

This season bangle bracelets have lost their cache, as wearing stacks of bracelets has fallen out of favor. Hinged bangles and open cuff-style bracelets are both excellent choices, available in fine jewelry as well as costume jewelry versions. One beautiful hinged or open bracelet provides a beautiful finishing touch to an ensemble. For a range of well-priced options, peruse the vintage offerings on eBay. Above, People Style Watch pictures a goldtone hinged bracelet from pt. 9 at Kohl’s and a collection of double header spike bracelets from CC Skye.

Plus Size Jewelry Van Cleef flying butterflies bracelet MayJune 2013 Gotham Magazine REV

Don’t limit your search for jewelry to low-end options. Above, the Van Cleef  & Arpels “Flying Butterfly” bracelet in 18kt white gold and diamonds, pictured on entrepreneur Alexa Hirschfeld in her profile in the May/June 2013 issue of Gotham Magazine, would work beautifully on a larger wrist.

Rings:

Falcon states that she likes “stretchy ones from Rachel Roy and Kenneth Cole, or HSN for cute styles up to size 12.” Pictured is an inexpensive ring from Lane Bryant, about which Falcon writes: “The elasticized back lets anyone get an almost-custom fit.”

If you want to incorporate the latest trend very inexpensively, an elasticized ring may provide an option. With a wide range of sizes provided on television shopping channels such as HSN (up to size 12) and QVC (up to size 11), and the myriad of offerings on eBay, however, it is easy to find a beautiful ring in a classic style that provides a more comfortable exact fit. Sterling silver options are extensive from all of these sources. If you prefer the warmth of yellow gold to white metals but gold rings aren’t in the budget, consider vermeil, which is gold layered over sterling silver, or bronze.

Don’t forget, however, that many if not most ring styles created in precious metals such as gold and silver can be sized up by your jeweler. While the jewelry will need to add metal to stretch the size of the ring, the amount of metal required for a ring will be relatively small and the cost may be less than you expect. Find the gemstone or precious metal ring of your dreams and have it resized.

Necklaces:

Falcon writes, “Adjustable necklaces are ideal, but you also can buy a necklace extender at Nordstrom or Walmart.”  The necklace pictured, from Stella & Dot, adjusts from 17 to 20 inches.  Here the advice goes awry. About the pictured necklace, Falcon notes: “You can make it longer so it stops at that perfect spot 1 to 2 inches above your cleavage.”

Unless your bustline is just under your chin, this comment about the “perfect spot” is simply not correct relative to a necklace that adjusts no longer than 20 inches. More likely, you will require a necklace in the range of 24 to 28 inches in length. However, a necklace that stops higher than one to two inches above the cleavage can be a flattering length for a busty woman.

Don’t ever wear a necklace that is too tight around your neck — you will look and feel uncomfortable wearing it.

Necklace extenders are problematic. Be very careful about adding an inexpensive extender that isn’t an excellent match to a necklace that is too short. Unless the extender is covered by your hair, it can bring attention to the fact that you are wearing jewelry that doesn’t fit you well.

One additional important caveat:  If you don’t want to draw attention to your chin, short necklaces are probably not an optimal choice. You might well prefer to draw the eye elsewhere.

There are at least two important options that Falcon fails to address in the limited space she had: brooches and earrings.

Brooches:

Brooches are the wild cards of jewelry, completely indifferent to your size, and versatile in a way that a necklace or bracelet can never be. Choose one or more than one, and for ideas on how to style them, look at First Lady Michelle Obama’s stylings. Armani and Chanel often show brooches with their couture looks. Don’t overlook the style potential of these marvelous little pieces of art. Here again, eBay is an excellent source for vintage costume and fine jewelry selections in a dazzling range of styles.

Earrings:

Earrings should be the mainstay of every woman’s jewelry wardrobe, as they bring attention up to her face.  Earrings, like brooches, are completely indifferent to your size.  Long drop earrings can add a flattering vertical emphasis. Choose drop earrings with some width, such as chandeliers, rather than thin linear drops, which serve to emphasize the relative width of your face. If you have a shorter neck or prefer not to highlight your neck, choose cluster or button-style earrings that sit on your earlobes and draw the attention upward.

Every full-figured woman can find a wealth of jewelry choices readily available that both fit and flatter. Don’t forego the jewelry — it adds polish and personality to every ensemble.

Wristwatches: Go for Edgy Chic, But Mind the Edges

A certain style shows up periodically, an attempt to jazz up a wristwatch by adding bracelets to the same wrist. The idea shows up this season in the June-July 2013 issue of Lucky magazine, which promotes large statement wristwatches: “These oversize timepieces are as classic (and cool) as it gets.”

Lucky continues: “And there’s no need to wear a watch solo, either. Laddered with wooden bangles or friendship bracelets or even worn two at a time, it’s the perfect statement piece that never feels overpowering, adds just the right amount of sparkle and goes with seriously everything.”

Laddered with wooden bangles or friendship bracelets, which typically are made of soft woven materials, the combination is unlikely to be damaging to the watch. Piling one watch on top of another, however, presents quite a different potentiality for damage to both timepieces.

More on the “more is more” style appears in the photo top right, which bears the caption “Worn with chunky gold and leather bracelets, a classic watch feels edgier.” Notice that the leather bracelet is worn between the metal wristwatch and the chunky metal bracelet pictured, and acts as a bit of a buffer, although the metal hardware of the leather bracelet appears to be bumping into the watch. Any bangle bracelet is almost certainly going to bang against the watch as the bracelet slides up and down the arm.

Metal on metal is a bad idea. Metal can scratch metal as well as the glass face of the watch. The result: Damaged watch, damaged bracelet, and a resultant loss of chic.

A wristwatch combined with less potentially damaging wooden bangles or friendship bracelets is appropriate only for casual looks. A more sophisticated take on this style is the addition of a slender and lightweight link bracelet of gold or silver worn next to a medium or large wristwatch, adding just a bit of sass and sparkle in a pleasing proportion without the same potential for damaging either your jewelry or your timepiece.