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How to Accessorize and Renew Your Wardrobe

Although a lot of fashion retailers are practically giving away their merchandise, many women are reluctant to shell out money on clothing right now. But at least we can look. There is delight in seeing what’s on the horizon. It helps us imagine a more hopeful future. That’s the essence of what “fashion-forward” is, after all.

Still, bringing a little zing into your wardrobe doesn’t have to be expensive, especially when there are a lot of sales and special deals available. It’s simple to accessorize by adding a few great small touches. And this year, there are some really fun ideas to play with.

Just keep this yardstick in mind when shopping for any new trend: the more exaggerated or excessive it is, the more elaborate the embellishment or the more impractical any of its features, the shorter a shelf-life it will have…unless it actually suits your personality and style. That would more likely make it a long-time keeper.

So let’s look at some of the latest accessory trends, who they might work for, and what to wear them with.

Jewelry

Go Big or Go Home: The trend toward oversized fashion has given rise to proportionately matching oversized jewelry. Even if you’re not opting for elaborate poufy sleeved blouses, big-shouldered blazers – or anything in the oversized menswear trend, you can still incorporate some of these bolder pieces of jewelry into your current wardrobe. Many of them can update several types of outfits, from a tailored suit to a summer maxi dress.

Pearls: This one is a no-brainer. If you don’t already have a string of pearls, real or faux, now’s the time to consider buying one. We’re seeing them mostly in choker lengths and only slightly longer. That’s a very classic look for those with a more traditional fashion style. But these larger size pearls worn as a choker is a fun way to dress up a casual summer dress or a jeans outfit. Now, if you want to look very chic, you can even wear this type of choker necklace with a bathing suit and a cover-up.  We’re also seeing larger, asymmetrical freshwater pearls. That uneven shape works best for someone who has more of the Natural laid-back or Youthful playful style qualities. If your style leans more toward Drama, you can accessorize by layering them with a similar length chunky metal link necklace.

You’ll also see a lot of pearl drop earrings. They bring a sweet femininity to any outfit, adding softness to a classic look such as a simple white blouse with jeans or tailored slacks, an LBD or a warm-weather dress. The less delicate versions are a better match for larger-sized garments: those very popular puff-sleeved or multi-ruffled blouses.

Metal Hoops are everywhere. You’ll be seeing them wider, bigger and bolder.  You can wear them with almost anything that you would wear with smaller hoop earrings. Then there are the 90s throwback versions – smaller hoops made from lucite, acrylic and resin. Those are more artsy and colorful. They can also brighten up a more neutral monotone dress or pant outfit.

Chunky Chains: Gold, silver, lucite, or combinations of those are everywhere right now and like the pearls, the size of the links are mostly larger. Also, like the pearl, trend they are shorter in length. (Note: if you tend to carry some weight around your neck or chin, look for one that dips a bit a little below your collarbone. That will be a more flattering length for you.)  But don’t throw out your favorite delicate chain necklaces. Just accessorize by adding a few and wearing them together. Or mix them with one of the chunkier chains.

Handbags

Raffia: You can never go wrong with a straw, raffia or other fiber-woven bag for the summer. You likely already have one of them in your closet, as they are perennials for warmer weather dressing. They come in every style you could imagine for both practical and decorative purposes: totes, satchels, cross-body bags. Any of these could work for your wardrobe for many years.

Big or Little: Continuing a trend from the past couple of years, you’ll be seeing super tiny “micro bags.” The shiny or bejeweled ones might work just fine for a formal occasion. But frankly, a lot of these are just silly. They make everything else you’re wearing look too big. They’re also pretty impractical, as you can hardly fit a phone them. And then, of course, some designers just had to make the opposite statement too. So we’re seeing enormous, burdensome sac and tote bags. Unless you’re planning to carry your lunch, an extra pair of shoes, an entire change of clothing, multiple facemasks, your entire makeup collection, your iPad,and your pet Chihuahua, you might want to avoid one of those. If you are very tall, have a good deal of Drama in your style, and have very strong shoulders, accessorize with it, if you dare. Regardless, a good tote is a must for any wardrobe. Here some of the more traditional versions and one great new trend: tie-dye.

Clutch: If you don’t already have a nice clutch, this is one to accessorize with this year, especially in one of the more playful colors. Some come with chains, converting them into a shoulder bag. A pretty clutch can instantly add some cheer to a jeans outfit, t-shirt and blazer, your white cropped pants or bootcut linen pants outfit, or even a lighter summer midi dress.

Classic Foldover: Another perennial we’re seeing is the leather foldover shoulder bag.  These have classic, sophisticated details. Designer logos are back on several of them. This is a bag you accessorize with when you want to be taken a little more seriously. Pair this type of bag with a more formal outfit for a business-type lunch or event. They are mostly shown in neutrals: Black, white, tan, and combinations of those. But check out some of these more brightly colored ones. They are also a refreshing and less conservative take on the trend.

Shoes

You can wear the funkiest jeans and a tee, or repeat an outfit year after year, but accessorize with a great new pair of shoes and a great bag and you’re set for the season.

Loafers in both flats and heels abound. Both versions are replacing the brogues and chunky-heeled sneakers that were so popular for the past couple of years. The higher heeled loafers may look pretty conservative. But they’re being worn in a similar way that stilettos were worn just a few years ago: with tailored pants, straight leg jeans, skirts and dresses, and to balance out a more traditional trench coat outfit, such as pants, tailored blouse, blazer. (That will make them wearable come fall and winter.) You can wear the flats the same way we wore sneakers for the past few years with the same types of clothing: jeans, pants, skirts and dresses.

We’re seeing some very interesting sandals this year. Gone are the more utilitarian versions for longer distance walking (since many of us won’t be vacationing in Italy this year, sadly.) We’re seeing strappy sandals, asymmetrical, lots of slides and many of them with square toes, a nice gift for those of us who don’t have pointy feet. Slides and mules remain popular, mostly for more casual outfits or lounging around the pool, unless they are in a more luxe textile.

cult gaia jila bauble heel wicker mule - accessorize

Cult Gaia Jila Bauble-Heel Wicker Mules, $398

And of course, it wouldn’t be summer without espadrilles. You’ll find them in the typical platforms, wedges and flatter versions. These are always great worn with wider-leg pants, cropped pants, shorts and dresses or jeans. And they have longevity if you don’t wear them out this season.

Belts

I’d be remiss if I didn’t include this trend because a lot of us are tempted to hide our waists after this quarantine. But that’s a mistake. Regardless of any after-effects of your new-found ability to bake – and ingest – homemade bread, don’t hide yourself in a tent. This is just the time to create a little style and chic and accessorize with one of these new, interesting belts. A good belt can give you a waistline, even when you seem to have lost yours. And, of course, they too are oversized this year.

The more striking types of belts that we’re seeing now can turn a ho-hum jumpsuit, a slightly boxy blazer, or a long sweater coat into a more elegant or dramatic look. Accessorize with a chunky necklace and you’re good to go. The only caveat is to pay attention to your proportions. If you are short-waisted a very wide belt will emphasize that fact. You don’t want the top of a wide belt to end just under your bust.

But of course, belts don’t have to be oversized. You can’t go wrong with snakeskin, croc, or calf-hair.

Here’s to all of us emerging from our enforced cocoon with a little more style by simply accessorizing well!

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