How to Accessorize: The Basics

If an outfit is a cake, then the accessories that we wear with an outfit are the icing on top. Sure, you don’t need icing to make a cake, but doesn’t it make it all the better? Of course the best cakes have icing that complements the flavor of the cake, and so the best outfits have accessories that complement the clothes.

If you’re not really sure where to start with accessorizing, here are some of the basics to learn, which will have your outfits looking super chic in no time!

1. Limit Pieces

My first rule of thumb for accessorizing: limit the number of pieces you wear. Accessories are like the plating of a fancy meal, they’re meant to add an extra oomf to your outfit, not be the outfit itself, just as the swirls of sauce and garnishes on a special dinner aren’t supposed to replace the meal.

So how do you make sure your accessories just add emphasis to your outfit and don’t overwhelm your look? Limit the number of pieces you wear at any time or limit where you wear your accessories.

Let’s say that you want your hands to be a focal point. Maybe you just got a beautiful manicure or you’re a tarot reader, and you want people to be looking at your hands. If you wear rings or bracelets, and avoid any large or bold accessories elsewhere, then you’ll draw people’s attention to your hands.

But maybe you don’t want the focal point to be your hands, maybe you just want to accessorize to have a polished and put-together look. Well, in that case, I have some go-to formulas on how to do that.

Accessory formulas:

  1. Hat, earrings, scarf, bag
    (A simple hat can help draw attention to a nice pair of earrings. Also a great formula for cold days!)
  2. Layered necklaces, layered rings
    (Repeating the layering of accessories in two different places can be a nice touch.)
  3. Headband, bag, watch/bracelet
    (I don’t recommend pairing headbands with earrings, unless the earrings are studs, because headbands create a shape that draws the eye down the face. Pairing earrings with that, especially chandelier earrings, can look like too much.)
  4. Earrings, necklace, ring
    (A classic formula. Go minimal with either the necklace or the earrings, so that they don’t fight each other for attention.)
  5. Scarf, watch, rings
    (Wearing a scarf can draw the eye down across an outfit and, depending on the length of the scarf, to the hands. A subtle way to draw attention to a nice watch or ring.)

2. Make Sure the Hardware Matches

One of the easiest mistakes to make while accessorizing is having mismatched hardware. A lot of people make this mistake without even noticing it, and I’ve done it on many occasions as well, simply because hardware is everywhere in our clothing and accessories, so it’s easy to forget about it.

What’s hardware?

Hardware is the metal in your clothing and accessories. If you’re thinking to yourself, “my clothing doesn’t have any metal on it” then you’re probably mismatching your hardware and just not realizing it. But that’s okay! The first way to begin fixing this mistake is realizing where the hardware is on your clothing and accessories. Here are some examples:

  • Buckles on bags, belts, and shoes
  • Zippers
  • Grommets (the metal rings that laces, drawstrings, and straps can be drawn through)
  • Chains for necklaces, bracelets, and bags
  • Metal frames for glasses or sunglasses
  • The dial, hands, or clasp of watches
  • The hooks or clasps of earrings

Those are quite a few examples, and just things that I could think of off the top of my head, so I’m sure that there are other examples of hardware that I’m missing, but by now I’m sure that you understand that hardware is everywhere on clothing and accessories.

So one of the best things you can do is make sure that your hardware matches!

Hardware can come in a lot of colors, but here are the common ones:

  • Gold
  • Silver
  • Brass
  • Black

When it comes to jewelry, I tend to prefer gold, so I like to make sure that other accessories I get also have gold hardware. An example of this is a beautiful watch that Nordgreen sent me. I know that gold is my go-to color for hardware, so I chose a watch with a gold dial and strap.

I love the design of this watch, and the weight of it feels perfect on my wrist. The mesh strap is also very comfortable, so I can wear it throughout the day.

If you’re interested in getting a watch from Nordgreen, then make sure to check out their Black Friday deals on watches.

What about mixed metals?

So, what do you do when you have some hardware made from mixed metals, such as being silver and gold? Mix your metals elsewhere as well! Let’s say you have a bracelet that has both silver and gold on it. Try wearing some silver rings and some gold rings with it.

Alternatively, you can use mixed metals to tie in hardware that doesn’t match with anything else, but that you still want to accessorize with. If your favorite bag has silver hardware, but most of your jewelry is gold, then wearing a mixed metal, silver and gold piece of jewelry can help everything look cohesive.

3. Tie in Colors

One of the easiest ways to look put-together is to make sure that your outfits have a color scheme, and one of the best things to do with your accessories is to reinforce that color scheme!

I like to do this by choosing a color that appears in my outfit and making sure that it appears in my accessories as well. For example, I wear a lot of black clothing, so I have a bag that’s black and shoes that are black. I also made sure that the face of the watch that I got from Nordgreen was black, so that it would match the majority of my outfits.

Patterned clothes can be a great way to find a color to repeat in your accessories, or vice versa, especially if you want to experiment with something other than neutrals. I have a small bag that has a burgundy cat print on it (while it isn’t something that I’d normally get for myself, some socks that I got came packaged in it and I thought that it was so cute that I decided to repurpose it into a bag that I use to carry things). I also have a few burgundy pieces of clothing in my closet, so I like to pair the cat bag with those pieces of clothing!

Can I match with something other than my outfit?

Of course! While matching the colors of your accessories to that of your outfits is easiest, you can also get creative and match to other things, such as your other accessories. For example, if you’re wearing an all black outfit, you could really make a bold look by wearing only red accessories with it, such as red shoes, a red bag, red tinted sunglasses, etc.

If you’re only wearing an outfit for a photo shoot or to go to a certain event, you could also get extra fancy and match your accessories to something in the setting, provided you know what the setting looks like in advance.


Accessories are great for adding something special to your outfits, and with all things I like to ‘know the rules before I break them’. What are your favorite accessory tricks?

And a huge thank you to Nordgreen for sending me this watch. I love their designs, so please check them out!

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