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.

jewellery box earrings

Aren’t these two photos funny? The left one is when I first started in racing fashion from the year 2011 till about 2016. My small collection consisted of plain studs sometimes with stones or if I was wanting my earrings to stand out I would wear the cluster of black stones pictured. Now, my earring collection (and this is just a handful of it) is so bejewelled, bright and colourful that I LOVE choosing out what earrings to wear.

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.

funky green watering can clutch bag

Image credit: @melissabarnes_1

feature clutch horse bamboo

Image credit: @allanaburns (left), @elizai22 (right)

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.

fashions on the field judge milano imai

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?)

unique purple dinosaur clutch bag

Image credit: @wendellt

quirky fun accessories

Image credit: @missemmac

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.

pop of colourful accessories

Image credit: @cobiesheehan

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.

bold bright statement prints

Image credit: @thelittlegeorge

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.

unique race day outfit

Image credit: @eliscrewes

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.

planning your accessories

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.

vintage accessories bag

Image credit: Helen Strong

Nadia also played on her 1950’s theme by incorporating a parasol.

1950s style parasol umbrella accessory

Image credit: Nadia Bishop

Milly stuck to a quirky, fun theme to suit her pineapple turban by adding a green wooden basket clutch and pineapple earrings.

pineapple accessory theme

Image credit: @millybm

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.

nautica shipping themed accessories

Image credit: @wendellt shot of @courtney_busby

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.

colourful print dress bright accessories

Image credit: @wendellt shot of @brooke.prince

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.

colourful dress with red accessories

Image credit: @kwatto91

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.

black bag shoes heels fur shawl

Image credit: @wendellt shot of @lindsay.j.ridings

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.

white dress green clutch moroon millinery shoes

Image credit: @wendellt photo of Alison McNamara in Helen Manuell culottes and Murley and Co Millinery.

In this photo, the pop of red with the green really stands out and looks so fresh. She looks like a flower. Beautiful.

green and red race dress and clutch

Image credit: @wendellt photo of @petramangos

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.

yellow and purple millinery

Image credit: @becb_ (left), @richshawphoto (right)

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.