Accessories are the secret to looking well. They speak volumes and are the key to revitalising jaded outfits, adding the finishing touch to elegant ensembles and reflecting your sense of style.
Simple touches, such as the addition of a matching handbag, shoes, jewellery, belts or hats, can update a look and take the wearer from day to evening or one season to the other with panache and without breaking the bank.
Accessories are the ideal way to add colour, wit and glitz to a basic outfit and offer great scope for individuality. They make a world of difference to your look.
You only need to look at the world’s most glamorous women to see how they manage to look sensational by simply donning a stylish hat or choosing the appropriate earrings or necklace to complement an outfit.
The good thing about accesories is that they need not cost the earth. In fact, most do not and can be updated regularly which means your wardrobe can be dressed up or down to meet every fashion challenge.
You can use accessories to dramatically change your image. You can go from day to night from city to country look or from casual to a glamorous style all with the skilful use of a few well chosen accessories.
Experts advise that you pay special attention to your bags and shoes and the colours and textures you choose. Then, add a few pieces of stunning jewellery.
The essential accessory collection features primary and accent accessories. The former includes shirts, tops, jumpers, T-shirts and cardigans. Shoes, tights, belts, scarves, bags, hats and jewellery fall into the accent category.
Keep your accessories simple if you want to create a dressy daytime look. The hat, belt, tights and bag could all be in a bright shade which would contrast beautifully with a simple black dress. Jewellery should be kept to the minimum.
Keep to warm, earthy colours if you want to create a country look. Wear low heeled leather shoes, a simple leather belt and carry a casual leather bag.
When dressing up for an evening out choose accessories in gold or silver. Or if you want to make a strong statement select a few bold, dramatic pieces rather than a number of small discreet ones.
Tights or stockings should be as sheer as possible while bags should be in sophisticated materials, such as leather or patent.
Jewellery. Gold jewellery suits those with warm tones while silver will suit cool ones. A simple gold or silver chain and matching earrings will add class to any ensemble whatever the occasion. Traditionally, women tend to wear bigger earrings for evening so you can get away with most styles and sizes for after-six.
Pearls are big fashion news at the minute and look good on any age lending sobriety or class to any garment. Costume jewellery can add a splash of colour to either understated outfits or more casual looks. Remember how Coco Chanel in the 1930s showed how costume jewellery could turn heads and this remains true today. Avoid large, dangly earrings if you are small. The same advice applies to long beads.
Watches are an important accessory. Even those who scorn other types of jewellery are likely to own a watch. Opt for a classic gold or silver bracelet design because this works best with most looks. Choose a watch which is in proportion to your frame also - a dainty one will best suit a petite slim hand whereas a fuller faced or oval watch will look good on a fuller framed woman. Fun watches with colourful straps or interesting detail are ideal for a holiday or casual wear and give the owner a chance to allow her zany personality to shine through.
Belts. Begin your collection with three leather belts in basic colours and one gold or silver belt for evening. Brown, black and beige are good basic colours. Once you have started your collection you can then choose different colours and textures such as cord and suede. Avoid plastic belts, if possible.
Bags. You will need a cream or white bag for summer and a good black bag for winter. Leather is hardwearing and improves with age so is always a wise option. Experts suggest choosing a bag which echoes the same line and scale as your clothes, emphasising angles or accentuating curves. Remember, the scale of the bag should never overwhelm your outfit.
* The plainer your dress or suit the more jewellery you can wear
* If you have a small waist always belt it to make the most of it
* Rings draw attention to your hands so only wear them if your fingers are long and shapely and your nails are fit to be seen
* Slim, medium heels will make your legs look longer
* Before you buy a new bag check it will hold everything you need. If a conventional bag is not large enough for work opt for a good quality briefcase
* Avoid impulse buying or shopping randomly because you can commit major style sins this way.
* The first step in assembling a good selection of accessories is to stock up on the basics. Get a black leather belt, black shoes and a black bag.
* Prioritise. When you have time to spare go through your wardrobe and make a list of what you need. Would a pearl neckace bring your dark suit to life? Are all your shoes black? If so, consider buying footwear in other colours - summer is the perfect time to splash out on cheery footwear. Light blue low heeled sandals may be the perfect choice to go with your new denim jeans. When buying accessories think in terms of buying something that will go with at least three other items in your wardrobe. That’s not only good fashion sense but good money sense, too.
* Always make a list and shop from it. Avoid the temptation to buy something which is not on your list unless it is the bargain of the century and you simply must have it.