POSTED ON MARCH 18, 2009:
Bright, chunky jewelry must be chosen and worn with great care
As anyone who has stepped into a retailer in 2009 can attest, this year has been quite lackluster thus far. The uninspiring looks and colors weren't worth a shopping trip. But as any savvy shopper knows, that was just the beginning. To keep the masses continually consuming, retailers are always bringing in new items. Right after the holiday season, there's a big boom of new looks; they obviously have to replace all the clearance merchandise they're losing. They'll have new things trickle in here and there so as to keep shoppers regularly returning and hoping in vain to see "what's new."
But essentially, the first quarter is usually a write-off, and this year really proved it. But now that nice weather is approaching, the good stuff is shipping in. These looks reflect the season. They don't look like something you already own. These styles are worth leaving your house for - you won't go to the store and maybe try on an item or two before leaving empty handed; you'll bring 12 items to the fitting room and have to narrow it down from there.
But despite the bright, intriguing window displays, we cannot forget the small details of accessories. These shoes, bags, jewels, makeup and more were always with us, even in the hard times when it looked like stores were selling things that you would wear to wash a car. When racks were filled with grey cottons, the accessories provided color and texture. And now, even though we have the fashion world throwing garments our way, we cannot neglect those trinkets that got us through winter's cold, ugly period.
In all likelihood, a shopping trip will amount to equal parts clothing and accessories. The key is to separate the two in terms of a look. Stores don't make this very easy, offering Outfit Blue and then surrounding it with Accessories A, B and C in that same shade. Instead, think of your accessories as separate from your wardrobe.
I don't know where the notion of a purse matching an outfit and/or your shoes came into play, but that's all a bunch of baloney. It is important to know that accessories don't have to be translated so literally to the outfit. If you find yourself unable to strike the dividing line between ensemble and accessory, purchase them from different stores. Buy your outfit at Store A, get a few pieces of jewelry from Store B, a bag from Store C, etc.
That being said, this season's jewelry is a mixed bag in terms of color. This will make it very easy to not be too matchy. Many of the pieces blend two or more shades and textures so that it will be more difficult to match. Jewelry, perhaps in a bid to compete with the new spring looks, has gotten very bold this season. How to describe this season's look in jewelry? Big and lots of it.
This season's jewelry does not have a standard color or material. Yellow-gold (or its faux gold-colored metal cousin) has returned to reign as the jewelry du jour in recent years, surpassing the popularity of silver, but metal isn't the only popular material this year. The elements this season are natural, manmade, whatever -- beads, glass, plastic, wood, metal, semi-precious stones, etc. The necklaces are long and full and bracelets are plentiful.
This season's necklaces are dense from clasp to clasp; this spring's big isn't a large medallion on a simple chain, but a clunky, chunky necklace from start to finish. They aren't precious pieces either in look or composition. Similar are the bracelets. A singular large bracelet or stacks of varying width and materials are meant to be worn. They can have a running theme (e.g. all gold but in different designs) or as varied as the wearer chooses.
This all sounds very vague, but it can't be pinpointed to any certain trend. Every store, every designer will have a hodgepodge of looks. It is safe to say, however, that with necklaces this season, it's not about wearing multiple strands. One ginormous necklace is all that you will need.
It might not be cheap either. Often, we think that expensive jewelry is made from diamonds and precious metals, but costume jewelry, like these looks, can be just as costly. And you do have to take into account that you won't be wearing these accessories every day.
Unlike a diamond pendant that's simplicity allows it to be worn regularly, wearing these necklaces or stacks of bracelets day after day is a bit like wearing an eye-catching top day after day.
These looks should only be worn every once in a while. As with any trend, you have to know yourself enough to justify the cost. Like anything you'd buy, try it on -- make sure you like where the length hits on your neck or chest.
Again, what you don't have to do is factor in the rest of your wardrobe. Statement jewelry does not mean that the outfit needs to be toned down. A big, long necklace can be paired with a vibrant patterned top or dress and you can mix and match colors without it being overkill.
This is not about wearing a bold piece with a white t-shirt. What you do have to balance is the jewelry itself. A big necklace with a big pair of earrings, a cocktail ring and bracelets piled up to your elbow all at once is overkill. It will weigh you down as well as make you look a little crazy. A big necklace is enough on its own; don't wear large earrings for it's too much around your face. A singular bracelet or a large cocktail ring can complement the piece.
Return of the Flat
If you invest in a great piece of jewelry that you really love, you'll want other people to notice it, too. They can't if their eyes are being pulled around to all the other shiny objects on your body. If in doubt, do as the great Coco Chanel expressed and, before you leave your house, give yourself the once over and remove one article or accessory.
Purses and shoes are also getting the "large treatment." To say that purses are getting big might be an incorrect statement as they have been for a while. The large, tote bags that rest securely under the arm remain prevalent, so if you've downsized in recent months, rummage around in the closet and dust off the purse that most resembles a duffel bag.
You might not be so lucky with shoes. We have been fortunate enough recently for the return of the flat shoe. They are so easy to wear that we've almost neglected the fancy, fun tall shoe. Rather than trying to get America back on the stiletto too quickly, the fashion gods have brought back the stacked heel. These thick, square heels are big, so they never appear delicate. The shoes will cover more and feature wide bands of leather or other materials. And, what makes them truly great is that they are more comfortable to walk in than your typical heel.
Makeup might not be considered an accessory, but it is. Its inclusion (or absence) can make or break a look. This idea is especially prevalent this season, where makeup has to give and take with your other accessories. If you are wearing a big, bold necklace or an eye-catching pair of earrings, you can't be overloaded with a bright vibrant face; it is just too much going on.
The heavy-handed application of black eye liner that's been popular in recent years must take a backseat this spring as soft and pretty seems most appropriate to complement bright shades, large patterns and candy-colored baubles.
Like with the jewelry, choose one area to focus on. Naturally, you can go to the two main areas where the most options are offered -- a pretty eye or a pouty lip. Soft colors with some shimmer are ideal for any spring look. Make sure to be subtle on the spring colors however. Too blue, pink, purple, green or whatever, and you'll end up looking like Barbie.
The only problem with the big looks this season is that they can weigh a person down. A petite woman needs to know her limitations and realize that she cannot wear the big shoes with a big bag and a big necklace. As with any anything, you always need to find the cut-off point in order to remain fashionable.
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