Ask Design Mom: Accessorizing the Fabulous Mom

January 1, 2007



Here’s an Ask Design Mom Question that was emailed in early November:
Carol and I got talking last week and decided we need fashion advice, particularly in the accessorizing arena. We thought you could help. We of course don’t want to look too trendy, cause then you look like you’re trying too hard. We want to just reek of class and have it look [mostly] effortless.
Thanks in advance, Kaila

Design Mom Answer:
Excellent question, Kaila! My apologies for leaving you hanging for so long. Accessories for me seem to be a phase. I’m like six months on, six months off — and currently it’s six months off. But, from what I observe, more seems to be more right now. You can wear it all and you can wear it all at the same time. Dangly exotic earrings. A statement necklace. A watch or big bracelet or both. And a cocktail ring or 3. Still want more — finish everything off with an enormous belt.

More of a minimalist? The happy news is that there are so many awesome pieces out there, that even just one item — to add some visual interest and texture to an outfit — can be enough.

Let’s pull some samples from Anthropologie (too many to choose from!) and discuss:


Sipping Stars Necklace. Pretty with your wrap dress. Enough of a statement you don’t have to wear anything else. But maybe a ring.


Jumble Necklace. Wear it with a graphic tee under your fitted jacket. Jeans. Heels. A great belt.


Snowflake Pendant. With your delicate little blouse that opens at the neckline. Add a bracelet too.


Oakleaf Cuff. Make your 3/4 sleeve turtleneck twice as interesting with a fab cuff. And great earrings.


Thick and Thin Bangles. With pretty much anything. Plus provide endless entertainment for the baby.


Isthmus Bracelet. Not sure what I would wear it with. But am loving the delicate features.


Melissae Ring. Wear this and you probably don’t need much else. Remember things like this for days when you’re in a hurry. Too cool.


Lotus Flower Ring. Super feminine. Pretty on it’s own and pretty with lots of other gold too.


Seahorse Cresent Earrings. Um. So pretty. With everything.


Binocular Drop Earrings. So delicate. Als
o with everything.


Flowering Vine Earrings. Spice up that button-down. Or contrast these fancy, fancies with cargos.

It’s no secret that jewelry is expensive. So if you’re looking for the most bang for your buck, don’t even pretend to get fine jewelry. Go for beads and texture at places like H&M; or Forever 21. Or raid your grandma’s costume jewelry.

Going for simple and refined? The women I notice as impeccably groomed never seem to leave the house without all 4 accessory elements in place. Small, understated, very high quality pieces they wear almost every day. Small diamond studs, a simple tennis bracelet, wedding ring and a good chain with something sparkly dangling from it. They also always have their nails done. They also always look just right. This is a kind of country club look that I will personally never be able to pull off — but I would recommend it to my Politician’s Wife sister and my Army Major’s Wife sister.

I hope that helps, Kaila. It occurs to me that accessories can include scarves and handbags and headbands and a dozen other things. Was I wrong to focus on jewelry?

Hey readers! How do you accessorize? How much? How little? Favorite pieces? Speak up!!

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{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Anonymous January 1, 2007 at 12:39 pm

i worship jewelry! my BFA is in metalsmithing and jewelry design, so my opinion is completely partial!

personally, i’d leave home without make-up before i’d leave home without jewelry. i have the best hand-forged silver bangle that my husband gave me for christmas 12 years ago and i never take it off. i wear earrings ALL the time, usually the same ones everyday in 6 month phases. my daily jewelry includes my wedding ring, two other rings that i love, earrings, a perfect necklace, and a few bracelets with the never-removed bangle. i always feel set! i’ll add chunky, trendy jewelry sometimes (love anthropologie!)

i think art jewelry makes a wonderful statement, no matter what you’re wearing!

my advice about buying jewelry is to only buy what you LOVE! you can find junk-jewelry everywhere, but it doesn’t make you feel anything. if you buy jewelry you LOVE (even really cheap jewelry), then you’ll feel happy everytime you wear it.

p.s. i also love scarves and perfect shoes, but this comment is too long already.

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2 Anonymous January 1, 2007 at 6:58 pm

I’ve found that when you’re having a bad fashion morning or bad hair day, nothing makes you look put together more than a cute thick headband and a belt. and i second the motion to buy cheap trendy stuff at forever 21 and h&m stores. One stop up from that is places like express which surprisingly has some nice jewlery for under $30. Banana republic has some really delicate timeless pieces as well that won’t break the bank and go on sale often.

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3 Anonymous January 1, 2007 at 9:20 pm

Tina, I love your comment! :)

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4 Design Mom January 2, 2007 at 8:56 am

Tina, that’s great advice. If you love it, you’ll wear it.

Liz, I love easy fixes for bad fashion days. If I’m feeling really frumpy, a dress or skirt always helps. So do heels.

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5 Design Mom January 2, 2007 at 8:57 am

Also Tina, I’d love to see some of your work. Email me a link!

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6 jordan January 2, 2007 at 5:44 pm

I got that lotus ring for Chistmas.

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7 Anonymous January 3, 2007 at 1:44 am

I’m a jumble necklace type. Thanks for posting!

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8 Azúcar January 3, 2007 at 2:19 am

I cannot recommend accessories enough. No matter what size you are, your accessories will always fit. Today, at seven months pregnant, I can wear the same handbag and shoes I did eight months ago. This is why if you have limited dollars to spend, make sure that you spend them on knock out pieces that make a statement about your style.

For trendy pieces I, too, favor h&m, etc. I find that my local Dillards and Penney’s actually have great, higher quality pieces on clearance all the time.

Easy rules for dressing:
Wear three colors, one being a neutral, with a solid and a print/texture. If you’re in the doldrums of summer and can’t manage more than a pair of jeans and a tee, pair with a third color necklace with plenty of texture.

I tend to go overboard with accessories so I follow Coco’s advice: before you leave the house, take off one thing.

You can spend 30 bucks and get a decent black leather purse on sale at any time. If you are going to spend serious cash on an accessory, make sure that it will give you serious bang.

In order to avoid looking trendy, don’t do the bag of the season with the necklace, belt, bracelets, and top/bottoms of the season. Pick one accessory that says This Season and pair it with more classic things.

Wow…this is getting a little long for a comment, I might have to turn this into an entry.

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