Over-Accessorization: The Making of a Look Memorable for the Wrong Reasons

In my last post, I assessed an ensemble that combines a number of the season’s trends flawlessly, resulting in a comfortable, chic look.

Sampling the latest trends is fun, and more than that, it shows the world that you are current with what’s fresh in fashion. Choosing shoes and a bag that are reasonably current, and always necessarily in impeccable condition, is a credit to your personal and professional image. Adding jewelry and other accessories to an ensemble requires a sense of discretion and restraint. Today’s post presents an example of a look of over-accessorization, where that sense of discretion is lacking.

From the September 2012 issue of Lucky, here is a lovely $1200 lace dress from Burberry London accented with “whimsical accessories” piled on with no rhyme or reason. The elaborate collar from a silk top peeks out from the vee neckline of the dress, a necklace with a huge pendant in the shape of grapes accenting the center. A belt accented with an animal head visually clashes with the cluster of grapes above. To confuse the eye even more, a pair of elaborate and colorful cuffs completes the ensemble. The eye doesn’t know where to look. There is no coherence to the ensemble. This is a case of accessories turning the potential for a lovely look into the sad look of a fashion victim.

A silk top with an interesting collar from Maison Murasaki might be spectacular on its own, but worn under the dress gives it a prissy look and seems to turn it into a form-fitting choir robe or judge’s robe. Moreover, it bulks up the figure under the dress. Wear this type of layered look judiciously.

All of the other accessories – the necklace from Thea Grant, the cuffs from R.J. Graziano worn singly or as a pair, and the belt from Burberry Prorsum, are lovely on their own, but they do not work together cohesively. The animal head belt in particular is too casual a motif to do credit to the lace dress.

As between the pendant necklace and the cuffs, the necklace is the better choice for several reasons. It draws the eye up to the face. It has fine detail that complements the elaborate lace of the dress. And it does not present the potential for snagging the dress that might occur wearing a bracelet crafted of elaborate metalwork.

I do not subscribe to the old saw that, once dressed,  you should remove one accessory before leaving the house. In this case, however, I recommend removing at least three out of four. Imagine how stunning the dress would look on its own, accented with an elegant pair of earrings.

The Making of a Memorable Look

The introduction of the fall/winter collections is, for many, the most exciting time of year from a fashion perspective. The heat waves of summer soon to be behind us, the prospect of dressing stylishly and comfortably in layers beckons.

Here’s one example of how to combine a number of the season’s trends flawlessly: boots, slacks, a slouchy textured sweater with a turtleneck, a cross-body bag, and stacks of bracelets. The visual look of the multiple bracelets echoes the folds of the pushed-up sleeves of the sweater. The look is comfortable, practical and wonderfully chic.

There is something reminiscent of Jackie Kennedy in this look, as she was known for wearing white slacks, and the model’s thick side-swept tresses are reminiscent of the former First Lady’s hairstyle.  This styling appears in the August 2012 issue of  Town & Country.

Wearing white pants tucked into knee-high boots requires slim calves. To adapt this look if you don’t have the long, slender legs of a model, wear slacks in a dark hue combined with flats or booties (the latter especially on-trend this season) in the same color as the slacks to give you the longest possible visual line.

Styling Perfection: Nuances of Color

Every so often I come across a photograph of a fashion styling that stops me in my tracks. Savannah Guthrie, NBC-TV’s Today‘s new anchor, looks phenomenal in this photograph published in People magazine, wearing a dress by David Meister and earrings by Kimberly McDonald, styled by Stacey Kalchman.

The color of the dress is perfection with Guthrie’s eyes, bringing out their arresting color. The vee of the neckline of her dress is an ideal depth, coming to Guthrie’s first balance point. The subtle weave of the dress repeats the nuances of color seen in Guthrie’s hair, the warm yellow being a near-complementary color to the blue hues.

And the earrings — if you ever wonder why I encourage my clients to seek the perfect pair of earrings, here is a demonstration of why. The colors of the earrings pick up the hues from Guthrie’s eyes as well as those in her hair. The shape of the earrings subtly reflects the vee neckline of the dress. The center stone is an eye-catching natural beauty, full of mystery and nuance. The earrings sit on her ear lobes in an appropriately professional style, bringing attention up to Guthrie’s face. And the diamonds surrounding the center stone add a touch of dazzle, the perfect accessory for a rising star.

Watch for opportunities to attend jewelry trunk shows, where you can see the full line of designs and colors from a designer. Try on different designs and observe what styles are most flattering to you. If you’re not sure where to start, engage the services of a professional image consultant to help you determine your best colors and to point out the nuances of design in your own person. It is those nuances that make you individually and beautifully you.

TheOhLook: Photo Styling with a Diagonal Bent

This exquisite, uncredited photograph of Emily Blunt that appears with her profile in the March 2012 issue of InStyle magazine deserves a closer look.  Blunt is gorgeous, of course, and younger than most of my readers, but the styling of the actress and the photo are both worthy of mention.

The teal color of her dress relates to and heightens the color of her eyes and compliments both her skin tone and hair color, demonstrating the power of a flattering hue. Her jewelry, a bronze or antiqued gold cuff and an interesting arrangement of blue ringed agate stones and antiqued gold leaves, balance each other. Having only a glimpse of the jewelry to the right makes one want to see more of it, adding active intrigue to the photo.

The position of her right arm repeats the diagonal of her one-shoulder top. The effect is to draw the eye up to her face. A similar effect to this styling can be achieved with a drape of fabric, the careful positioning of one arm, and some well-chosen jewelry.

Also worthy of note is the quotation that appears at the bottom of her photo: “The most beautiful people are those who don’t realize they are. Those are the ones I stare at.” When asked to sum up her philosophy of beauty, Blunt replied: “I love seeing faces that live and breathe–that are covered with lots of lines and you want to know how they got them. People who do too much plastic surgery often have a very still, startled expression. I can’t imagine that there’s much joy to be gained from that. If you can’t move your face, you can’t express yourself.”

Oh No! Seeing Red

I cringe when I read an article, such as that in the February 2012 issue of Redbook entitled “Why you’ll be happy to get scarlet fever,” which makes the following statement:

“Studies prove: Red looks good on everyone. (Okay, we made the studies up. But it’s true!) No matter what your skin tone, you’ll positively glow.”

Does red look good on everyone?  Absolutely not. As an image consultant, I assess the best shade of red for each of my clients. For many women, their best red is actually coral or pink or burgundy. If you’ve never warmed to bright red, you may instinctively sense that that bright hue does you no favors. Bright red may actually make you look tired and washed out.

Redbook adds: “Men see you in red and the reasoning part of their brain blinks out. All they can think is, She’s so SEXY. And hey, nobody’s ever written a song about a lady in orange. . .”

I’m not sure where Redbook is finding these men, but my honey and other guy friends tell me that they “cannot stand” bright red on a woman. There are no absolutes, especially when trying to figure out personal preferences. Don’t fall for the hype.