I have started a long and beautiful relationship, with accessories.
At first, I was a little scared. Accessorising, for me, used to mean finding a simple clutch or heel to match an outfit. Now, it’s a love affair!
It’s finding a glamourous heel to complement your outfit, a bag in a wild shape that brings that extra bit of oomph to your styling, earrings that take centre stage, or a cluster of brooches that add a whole new feature to an otherwise bare neckline.
And it’s not just me, there seems to be a movement. It began getting noticed when Christie Nicolaides earrings, that were a lot bigger and more extravagant than the usual seen earring were popping up everywhere.
Then clutches and bags changed. Simple, hand held clutches have taken a step aside, making way for more quirky and interesting designs. It’s super simple to DIY some features onto your own clutches too.
Ladies have loved beautiful luxurious shoes forever, but now they’re having fun incorporating them into their race day looks. Never have I seen more beautiful shoes than those that grace the stage of a FOTF runway.
So in this post, I’m going to share some tips on how to choose your accessories. I’ll also show you some of my favourite brands for earrings, necklaces, bags, brooches and shoes that I’m loving right now.
The Art of Accessorising
Having been a judge, I can tell you that styling with the right accessories is of utmost importance. Sometimes it can come down to the smallest details when deciding between sashes.
Working out what accessories to wear with an outfit is not easy. There are just SO MANY options out there! Your accessories can change the feel of your look completely.
For example, you could choose modern, vintage, quirky, extravagant, relaxed or subtle accessories.
And then there’s the matter of colour. What colour do you pick from your outfit to tie in the accessories? Or do you choose accessories in a whole new colour altogether?
Are your accessories the feature? Or is your dress busy enough, only needing some simple touches here and there?
Accessories – Too Much or Not Enough?
Accessorising a Plain Outfit
When you have a plain outfit the best way to make it pop or stand out is by using your accessories to ‘do all the talking’.
Emma always does a fantastic job of this. She chooses a stylish structured white dress (or any other plain colour) and uses accessories to add interest. She always has a pair of quirky heels to suit, or a funky clutch. (Have you guys seen her dinosaur and flying pig bag?)
Cobie does really well adding in a pop of colour to a plain coloured dress. In the following two photos you can see how she has styled her navy dress with two different colours, which both work perfectly.
Accessorising a Busy Outfit
If your outfit already has a lot going on in terms of a bold print, a bunch of textures or focal points and detailed millinery, then sometimes a plain clutch and shoes are the way to go. Anything more and you could look too busy, or mismatched.
Georgia’s two outfits are made of a very bold and bright print, which is a statement in itself. Her choice of simple black accessories and millinery was all that these looks needed.
Elis always has unique and bright race day outfits. She knows to opt for understated accessories that don’t take away from her outfit, which takes the lead role.
When accessorising an outfit, plain or busy, it’s important to make sure the different accessories suit.
Sometimes there is no golden rule, but the best way is to simply try on a combination of accessories. If you don’t own the accessories you want to try with your outfit, you can always use PicCollage to get a good idea of how it will work together.
Using Accessories to ‘Theme’ your Outfit
You can also use accessories to determine the theme or genre you are going for.
Go for a modern look, with on trend accessories, or make your look vintage with something more from the era, like a hand held bag and vintage brooch. Accessories can make your look quirky, fun or classic.
Here’s some examples of how accessories were used to theme the outfit…
Helen has gone for a classic, vintage look here and with the help of her hand held bag and mesh gloves, she mastered the look.
Nadia also played on her 1950’s theme by incorporating a parasol.
Milly stuck to a quirky, fun theme to suit her pineapple turban by adding a green wooden basket clutch and pineapple earrings.
Courtney was able to go with a retro nautical look by spicing up her white mesh dress with a ‘Bon Voyage’ wide brim boater and ship clutch with two gold buttons on her dress.
Tips for Choosing the Colour of your Accessories
When deciding what colour accessories to choose, either select a colour from your outfit, or bring in a completely new colour altogether.
Say I had a colourful print dress, I can then pick out any of the colours from the print to use in my accessories and millinery.
There is no rule saying that your shoes and clutch must be the same colour. You can mix it up, as Brooke did above with a teal clutch and red pumps. She could have chosen a combination of colours.
Sometimes though, if you have a lot going on in terms of prints, colours and textures, keeping your accessories all one colour can work as a sort of ‘framing’ technique.
Kim has a brightly coloured dress and so is her millinery. She also has texture added through the tassels in her shawl. By keeping her shoes, clutch and the base of her millinery, red, it helps to tone down the overall look and balance it out.
Similar to what Kim has done above, Lindsay has a floral printed dress, and did a fabulous job of taking her outfit to the next level with the use of all black accessories and a fur shawl.
You can accessorise in one singular colour to add to the outfit and not make it clash or makes things too busy.
If you have a plain coloured dress, you can pretty much pick out any colour to mix it with (as long as the colours don’t clash).
I love in the below photo how Helen has added a pop of green, more of a statement than if she had gone with a maroon bag, to match the shoes and millinery. Very smart choice.
In this photo, the pop of red with the green really stands out and looks so fresh. She looks like a flower. Beautiful.
Bec chose a deep purple to pair with her yellow dress, a colour combination I wouldn’t have thought of, but that works surprisingly well! Bec hasn’t incorporated the purple anywhere else in her outfit but it doesn’t look out of place, as the millinery itself is a big feature.
Annabel’s red lace dress is offset by her powder blue accessories. These colours are opposite on the colour wheel, but work so perfectly together. The contrast is what makes this outfit a total stand out.
Another thing you can do is wear the same colour head to toe- check out this monochromatic dressing blog for more tips.
Alyse’s outfit has a lot going on in terms of two different prints and feature ruffles on her top. Alyse opted for simple all red accessories as she didn’t need to add any more detail to this outfit.
Carle has done a great job of styling this outfit in a quirky, fun way. The dress itself is quite classic, but Carle has changed the direction of it’s feel by adding an orange mesh undershirt, big blue and orange turban, some funky heels, orange belt and bag. It’s fun to think of how many different ways this dress could be styled to look completely different each time.
Below, Reggie wears a similar style dress, but has styled it with a floral mesh under shirt and flower assortment millinery. The two dresses may be similar, however, with different accessorizing and styling they look very different.
Courtney incorporated a new colour into her outfit for a second outing. She changed up her shoes and clutch and added an orange ribbon to her boater. The key elements are the same but with these simple colour changes the look is quite different.
Below, the ASOS dress (which I was dying to purchase as well) has been worn and styled three different ways, with different accessories. As I said, there is no right or wrong way to accessorising. There are just many different choices, all producing totally different looks.
Here is an example of just how experimental you can be with colours and accessories. Sometimes it just works.
Someone else may have styled this outfit with a cream boater to match the flower embellishments on her top, or even gone for a monochromatic look and had green millinery.
Here, Stephanie is styled with a bright pink clutch and blue boater. The only things matching the clutch is her earring stone in pink. Maybe the fact that nothing matches here is how it looks so gorgeous!
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Using gold or silver accessories can spruce up any outfit. It’s also a great option when you are unsure of what colour to pair with an outfit.
Having a gold shoe could make more of a statement than a block colour and they are so easy to tie in. If you have gold jewellery, you can easily wear gold shoes or have a gold clutch.
How stunning does this look! A simple peach coloured structured dress taken to new heights with stand out silver accessories and millinery.
I selected gold to wear with this outfit as I had gold leafing in my millinery. I think the gold was the best choice over a navy or nude as it added a touch of glamour.
Here are some more touches of metallic…
Favourite Brands for Accessories
Below are some of the best places to check out for statement accessories.
Earrings are probably my favourite accessory at the moment. I LOVE big statement earrings and it looks like they’re here to stay. When selecting your earrings always consider how they will look with your millinery, they need to complement it and not compete or clash.
Your earrings can be in a colour to match your dress, or in a new colour you are adding in. When in doubt, I find that metallic is the easy go-to option.
Bags and Clutches
Ladies are trawling the internet seeking out cute, novelty clutches and bags. A fun shape, fabrication or feature are favored, some even opting to add on their own embellishments.
You can have a lot of fun with your bags, it’s so fun seeing what clutch someone has paired with their outfit. Just don’t forget that if your outfit has a lot going on, opt for a simple clutch, or choose a quirky shape in a plain colour and fabrication.
Put some excitement back into your life in the form of fun heels! Your details should be carried all the way down to your feet, some even proclaiming that ‘it’s all about the shoes’.
Your shoes are like the last little pop of detail that can really make your outfit stand out. Whilst you don’t have to go all out, a little colour block or tassel feature could be all you need.
Brooches are a great way to fill an empty void on a top, or add some detail. Brooches have been around for a long time, but a new style of brooch that I am loving right now are big ornament brooches.
Big leather flowers can be worn on tops and look incredible!
You can also wear them on your wrist like Sally has done here, or put them on your clutch.
Milliners and DIY savvy ladies are having fun making beautiful handmade custom brooches. Check out this blog post to learn how to make your own brooch.
Sally’s brooches pictured above were made by Jade McCelland from Sovata.
Millinery Jill also makes beautiful leather rose vines that can be used as brooches or additions to bags.
Amy makes such pretty leather and felt flowers in vibrant colours. Dying to get a bunch of different ones to mix and match with outfits!
This year, and last, I haven’t had a lot to say about necklaces. They’ve been a little MIA, I really noticed this when going through a bunch of FOTF photos. Bare necks are everywhere. I think it’s due to the take over of big statement earrings- you can usually only have one or the other.
But as fashion comes and goes, I’m sure necklaces will be back. If you do choose a necklace, select one that follows the neckline of your dress. Necklaces can be good for off shoulder styles if you feel that your chest area is too bare too.
Just stay away from fine, silver and gold keepsake type necklaces. For racing fashion, you have to go costume. You can even consider stacking multiple necklaces.
In the photo on the left, my sheer mesh fabric from a distance made my dress appear off-the shoulder. In the second photo I added a chunky necklace to fill in the space and make it appear a little more conservative.
Unfortunately, all my usual favourite brands have limited necklace options. Once necklaces regain popularity, I will revisit this section. Watch this space!
The cost of buying new accessories to go with each race day outfit can add up over time. A great alternative is to hire accessories from other race day enthusiasts on Millinery Market and return them after your race day.
You can rent bags, belts, jewellery, brooches, gloves and lots of other accessories. And if you’ve got your own collection of accessories that you’ve acquired over the years, why not list them on the site to earn money and help fund your next race day outfit.
Some things to Remember
Remember, there is no right or wrong with accessorizing. Style yourself the way you like to look, focussing on your personal style. Often, accessory choices are where you can really shine.
Now it’s your turn to show us some of the fun ways you’ve accessorised an outfit. Post a photo in the comments below so we can see your handy work. Bonus points if you’ve done some DIY to create an interesting accessory.
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