Wardrobe boot camp: how to add jewellery to an outfit

Editor’s note: This is regular series in which we help Styling You readers solve a particular wardrobe or clothing crisis with a little advice and some shopping suggestions. If you think you’d like to be considered as part of a Wardrobe Boot Camp post, then please email me (nikki@stylingyou.com.au) with a couple of photos and a brief run down of what specific help you would like.

Eula is a 38-year-old fashion designer, the creative lady behind the workwear separates label Natasha Rais. She wants some tips on how to start incorporating jewellery into her day-to-day outfits.

Eula - Natasha Rais The Plea

I would like some advice on how to do jewellery.  I am 38 years old and have never really been into or known how to add jewellery to an outfit with panache.  I don’t really know why because my mum and sister have always been right into it – but I just haven’t.  I don’t have my ears pierced and I have sensitive skin so I can’t wear a lot of costume jewellery metals without getting skin irritations. As a result I don’t really like the smell of metal.  Weird I know. 

Don’t get me wrong – I love looking at images of expensive gems and arty pieces in magazines but who can afford anything like that!  I do like the idea of adding polish to an outfit with a little something.  I’d really appreciate advice on how to go about this – for a real beginner who wants to dabble without spending too much.  Attached is a photo of me.  This is also a good indication of my casual wardrobe – jeans, a nice shirt, flats or heels depending on how much walking I’m going to be doing.  I would be looking for pieces that are going to translate from a corporate work wardrobe across to a casual one.

The tips

1. It’s all about baby steps. Start with this aim in mind: add just ONE accessory to your outfit every day.

2. The best way to ensure that you make that one strategic move every morning is to have your accessory collection visible and within easy reach for a quick add-on as you’re running out the door.

3. I would start initially with necklaces. A necklace adds instant impact. Once you’ve created the accessory habit, your confidence to add one, two, three or more pieces will develop. 

4. Use accessories to create focal points for people’s eyes to stop at. Think of your entire outfit like a dot-to-dot activity. People’s eyes will be drawn to the top dots and they’ll cross over your outfit all the way down to your shoes. And then they’ll come back up again following those same dots.

5. Your pieces should complement each other but they don’t have to be an exact match. Experiment and have fun with different combinations of colours and textures.

6. It’s possible to build an accessories collection on a budget. Think independent retailers, markets and etsy as starting points where you can find quality pieces at a fraction of the price of big labels. Don’t discount the costume jewellery stores either but do “feel” each piece. Some look as cheap as their price tag; others could easily fool most fashion experts.

7. Got your eye on some more expensive, arty pieces? Subscribe via email or social media to your favourite designers. The offers that come through can see you saving big dollars off a piece you may have been lusting after. I consider these investment buys – they are works of art and will never date.

Shopping

9 necklaces to give your outfit a lift now  1. Alexandra Redmond necklace $119 | 2. 1&20 Blackbirds necklace $5.99 @ The Iconic | 3. Cat Hammill necklace $59.95 | 4. Elk necklace $30 | 5. Lovisa necklace $16.99 | 6. Vivid Jewellery necklace $20 @ Piper Jordan | 7. Ruby Olive necklace $45 | 8. Vivid Jewellery necklace $25 @ Piper Jordan | 9. Ruby Olive necklace $35

Do you have any tips for Eula? Where have you found fabulous jewellery without breaking the budget?

Print Friendly

Stay in touch

For a daily email update, click HERE. Or hit the subscribe button below for weekly news in your inbox.
  • http://9thelm.com/ Mary Brown

    Always choose that jewelry which compliments
    your outfit. The colors need not to be the same, but must compliment, like any
    other accessory. Please visit – http://9thelm.com/

  • Alex

    Have had my eye on that Alexandra Redmond necklace for a while, and some of her others too. They are just lovely.

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au/ Nikki | Styling You

      Only made aware of this lovely label last week. Am in love!

  • Diet Schmiet

    When I lived in Brisbane I used to buy A LOT of stuff from Thousand Island Dressing (there are a few across the city – not sure where else they are). Fabulously funky jewellery and super-cheap. They sell other stuff, but other than a fab white leather with navy felt patters and fringing, I usually go for the jewellery.

    Cos I don’t fit into ‘normal’ clothes and can’t always buy great stuff in larger sizes I used jewellery to create a bit of individuality!

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au/ Nikki | Styling You

      Thanks for the tip off Diet Schmiet … will have to hunt them down.

  • Kathryn

    Eula, good luck starting down the accessories path! There are some beautiful necklace choices here – I love bead and leather and wood necklaces best. Local markets are always a good choice for a beautiful bargain. And bracelets! And brooches! Do you wear scarves? Some of my friends prefer to wear a scarf to a necklace – a nice way of adding colour and interest.
    With what you’re wearing in the pic, I think a funky brooch and a bangle would look great. Or a necklace. Have fun!

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au/ Nikki | Styling You

      Markets are such treasure troves for unique accessories. So much to fossick for.

  • Megan Powell Du Toit

    I love the statement accessory. So agree with the point about cheap costume jewellery, I often check through those places and find pieces that don’t look cheap, you just have to wade through. Love the elk necklace no 4. I also find a statement ring or bangle are great too if I have a neckline I don’t want to wear a necklace with. One place I’ve great for jewellery when on sale is Seed, surprisingly affordable.

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au/ Nikki | Styling You

      Thanks for the Seed tip – it’s so worth checking these clothing stores as they typically buy to work with their current season clothes and usually can find good stuff. It is about the wading through and fossicking!

  • Sarah N Tim Knopke

    Loooovvvveee item number 6 and have just got myself one in red, chocolate & chalk from the website (and I spent over $50 so got free shipping!) … Thank You <3

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au/ Nikki | Styling You

      You’re very welcome – enjoy your necklaces!

  • Molly

    I second, third and fourth Elk Accessories. Their jewellery is made of wood, stone and resin so should be fine for sensitive skin, and incredibly easy to dress up or down. And they come so gorgeously wrapped!

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au/ Nikki | Styling You

      Thanks for you vote!

  • Eula Graham

    Thanks Nikki. Great tips, especially the one on creating a dot-to-dot of focal points – that makes alot of sense to me. Time to start research… and shopping – I do like the #6 item from Vivid Jewellery! Thanks to your readers for their tips too; I’ll look out for pieces made of materials other than metal, and will check out Elk! Have a great day girls.

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au/ Nikki | Styling You

      Glad you like Eula … good luck with your search!

  • Lisa Mckenzie

    Ooh yes I have bought Katies,Sussans and some cheapie shops have some very cool pieces,one of my favourite necklaces was a total bargain, I think from Katies it is pink ,wood and clear quartz type of balls and every time I wear it I get a compliment.Also Etsy Down That Little Lane and lots of markets have some great buys.I would start slow Eula,just add a couple at a time until you feel comfortable with what you are wearing.I own a couple of pieces that don’t have much metal and have fabric and wool in their designs.I am sure when you start collecting it will be hard to stop.I keep mine in a drawer so they are easily found and stored carefully and have collected a lot over the years.Also another idea is a cool scarf I own it has tassles made out of fabric and pom poms hanging off the ends and looks more like a necklace than a scarf,Have fun! Nice research Nikki.

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au/ Nikki | Styling You

      Great tips Lisa … and it is about starting slow. Just one or two pieces will help you get in the habit.

  • Kali

    Great advice, Nikki. I moved to Melbourne from NZ 3 years ago, & learnt heaps about accessories from watching women in the street. Brooches are also an easy way to accessorise. Elk (elkaccessories.com.au) has great wooden/resin ie. non-metal pieces Eula might like to try & their website has really affordable pieces in the “sale” section.

    Before you get caught in accessory madness, a word of caution from the iconic Coco Chanel: “Before you leave the house, look in the mirror and remove one accessory”. I’ve always worn jewellery, and this is the best advice, which I adhere to slavishly.

    • Johanne Taylor

      I agree Elk are great especially check out the sale section, and the suggestion of brooches can work really well on jackets and coats. I leave a brooch on one coat that I always feel needs a lift, then when it’s buttoned up I’m still accessorized.
      I tend to wear large earrings so necklaces feel like too much a lot of the time. But I think that bangles can be an easy way to lift an outfit without being as ‘in your face’ as a necklace(if that makes sense). And the cheap chain stores do heaps of really cheap bangles that you can stack- but just start with one!

      • http://www.stylingyou.com.au/ Nikki | Styling You

        Yes, it’s tricky to pull off the large earrings/necklace combo. One or the other … and think of the dot-to-dot concept. Eula hasn’t got pierced ears so have started on the necklace.

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au/ Nikki | Styling You

      Great tip re the brooch! And love Elk … necklace included above. Love that Chanel quote … what I find is that most people I’ve worked with it’s not a matter of taking something off but actually putting something on in the first place.