The Power of Accessories

Posted by Jill Chivers in Attitudes and Habits, Fashion, Style and Shopping

I’ve been pondering a lot about style lately, and what makes a woman stylish.

There’s a lot to this question, and ultimately it is a deeply personal one.  What is stylish to me may be garish or dull or crazy to you.

But one thing that has struck me is how important the details are.  The flavours, the spices, the fragrances that distinguish one woman’s style from another’s.

You and I could be wearing the exact same clothes, but how we pull our looks together may make those clothes look entirely different to one another.  And our different styles would be visible – it would be obvious what my style is, and what yours is.

And that’s a wonderful thing.

Without the details, the flavour, the spices, the fragrances, getting dressed would be dull indeed.

What details am I talking about?  Why, accessories of course!

The difference even just one accessory can make

The difference even just one accessory can make

I’ll show you

I deliberately chose realistic looking women wearing clothes that most of us have, and wear, in our wardrobes, to illustrate this point.  And in my ‘after’ shot, I also deliberately chose a simple example, so you can see how easy it is to accessorise, and how little it can take to turn a blah outfit into one that’s  more interesting.

So let’s have a look.

In the photo below, you can see the difference that even one or two small accessories can make to an otherwise plain ensemble.  The woman on the left isn’t wearing any accessories, and even though her outfit is perfectly functional, there’s nothing remotely interesting or stylish about it.  You can’t say more about what she’s wearing than “she’s not naked”.  It truly is a blank canvas.

The woman on the right is wearing one (or two, depending on how you categorise them) accessory.  Just the addition of the necklace adds some lift and interest to what is virtually the same outfit as the lady on the left is wearing.  If you consider the cardigan/jacket item as an accessory, then you can see how doubling your accessories adds real zip.  It’s now worthy of being called an ‘outfit’, and not just ‘clothes’.

The difference even one or two simple accessories can make

The difference even one or two simple accessories can make


The difference that makes the difference

Accessories are the difference that makes the difference.  It is in these small details that style can be found.  And that style may be subtle, or it may be blaringly obvious, or somewhere in between.

The most important thing about it is it’s individual. It’s personal.  It’s an expression of you, the way you choose to do it.

Good reasons to accessorise

  • Accessories provide interest to your outfit.  Without them, you run the risk of getting bored with your wardrobe, and your outfits looking boring, because they’re always the same.
  • Accessories extend the life of your clothes and familiar ensembles.  With a change of accessories, an outfit you were so familiar with it felt like part of the family can have a new lease of life injected into it, it can become fresh and new (well, new-ish) again, and it can be given a new lease of life and a new place in your wardrobe.
  • Accessories tie your ensemble together.  They create interesting detail where clothes are simple or plain.  Accessories add personality to your look and give you an opportunity to express your unique personal style.
  • Accessories add versatility.  With a change in accessories you can wear the same ensemble over and over but it looks and feels different, as you’ve added different accessories and have created a different look.

Top tips to accessorising

Add more

Consider adding some additional accessories pizazz to your everyday outfit, or at least stepping up your accessories one notch, perhaps two.

Sure, some pundits warn of over-accessorizing, but what I see far, far more of is the opposite: not enough accessorising.  Outfits that are so safe, they are in danger of becoming boring.  They’re bland.  They’re what I call the band-aids of the style world – outfits that are functional but not fabulous (including, and most especially for, the woman wearing them).

And as the fabulous Iris Apfel has so exquisitely demonstrated, even when done to extremes, if it’s an expression of who you are it really is almost impossible to wear too much by way of accessories.

It’s natural

Adding accessories isn’t something to be done Just For Good – accessorising is for Every Day.  When you get into the swing of it, adding an accessory, or two, or three, will feel like a natural way to complete an outfit.

And that’s it exactly – no outfit is truly complete without accessories. Until accessories are added, you have an outfit that is a work-in-progress, an only partially completed canvas.

No matter what your day holds, consider wearing at least one accessory item, even if you’re working from home and it’s just you, the keyboard and the cat.

Accessories add a flavour and zest to an casual ensembles.  You often don’t need more than one accessory to upstyle an outfit.

The key to accessorising

The key to successful accessorising, apart from making it a habit to wear every single day, is to find and wear accessories in your style.  And there is a style that suits every woman and every style – no matter how individual.

If I’m all red patent leather and leopard print, and you’re earth colours and hand-woven, then wearing accessories that I’d love simply won’t work for you.  This is why so many women eschew accessorises – they mistakenly believe it’s about wearing items some other woman would choose.

Not so.

Successful accessorising is wearing only those accessories that work for you.


The women in these photos are all wearing accessories, and their styles couldn’t be more different to one another.

Very different styles - very different accessories

Very different styles – very different accessories

I encourage you to start collecting images of the accessories in the style you love.  Accessories that feel like you.

Accessories that make your heart sing, that you will love to wear, that will say all you want them to say and no more.

And I encourage you, most of all, to start wearing the accessories you already have.

My style challenge for you

Here’s my style challenge for you over the next month: every day, wear at least one additional accessory to what you’re currently wearing.  Throughout the day, assess how good, or otherwise, you feel wearing that accessory item (or items) and either keep/wear more of, upstyle/renovate, or let go of as required.

What accessories?

So what exactly are we talking about when we say “accessories”?  Heaps!

There’s lots of types of accessories.  Think:

  • necklaces
  • earrings
  • bangles
  • bracelets
  • rings
  • toe rings
  • ear cuffs
  • belts
  • neck scarves
  • head scarves
  • body scarves (pashminas and wraps)
  • hair pins and combs
  • hats
  • brooches and pins

I’d even throw in these items which are accessory-adjacent:

  • handbags
  • wallets
  • clutches
  • make-up bags and lipstick cases
  • pencil and pen cases
  • pens
  • business card holders
  • spectacle cases (including reading/driving glasses and sunglasses)
  • spectacles themselves
  • umbrellas
  • key rings
  • gym bags
  • drink sleeves
  • shoes
  • socks
  • hosiery and tights
  • shrugs

Accessories are the difference that makes the difference.  Explore what you love when it comes to accessories – have fun and play, get creative and see what you can discover.

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