Accessories: The golden rules

Looks from Riddle Me This (left) and Mimco (right). Remember that accessories will draw the eye to an area, so be sure to show off your favourite assets.
Looks from Riddle Me This (left) and Mimco (right). Remember that accessories will draw the eye to an area, so be sure to show off your favourite assets.
Looks from Taylor (left) and Zambesi (right) are certainly daring, but remember, rules are made to be broken.
Looks from Taylor (left) and Zambesi (right) are certainly daring, but remember, rules are made to be broken.
Turn to a label's lookbook images (like this one from Saben Leilani) for visual inspiration and guidance on how to accessorise.
Turn to a label's lookbook images (like this one from Saben Leilani) for visual inspiration and guidance on how to accessorise.

While some people seem to be born with an innate knack, most accessory queens have earned their crowns along the way.  

Stuff has teamd up with top personal stylist Jackie O'Fee of Signature Style, and fast-becoming renowned street style photographers Alex, Chin, Mino and Danny a.k.a. FourEyes, to make you a cheat sheet.

1) Own lots of accessories 

Start by knowing what you already have and keeping it readily accessible and ready to wear. Then, become a collector.

Wherever you go, have one eye open for pieces that will add to your inventory. You can work anywhere in the price spectrum, from boutiques down to chain stores (Lovisa and Diva were mentioned by all our experts), sample sales, TradeMe, Recycle boutiques, op shops and garage sales.

2) Have dress rehearsals at home.  

Ready your well-lit full length mirror - it's absolutely essential that you own one - and try accessories on with outfits.  

You'll learn what works, and also find new ways to wear existing treasures.  If a new piece feels a little odd, wear it around the house before you wear it out to make it your own - you'll be surprised how effective this is.

3) Follow Chanel's oft-quoted advice...

...And take one accessory off before you leave the house. "Over-accessorising can be a problem" says FourEyes, pointing out that not all outfits need accessories. 

4) Be aware of where you are drawing the eye.  

Accessories draw the eye to particular parts of the body. If you belt and buckle over a bit of a tummy, you can be sure everyone is going to notice it.  

5) Create optical illusions.  

Not only can you use your accessories to draw attention to the parts of yourself you like the most, but you can effectively add or remove width and length with them.  

"Visually flatter a fuller bust with a longer necklace," suggests Jackie O'Fee, "or add va-voom to a small bust with lots of necklaces or a scarf."

6) Choose accessories that suit your size.  

If you are petite, select equally delicate pieces. Those same delicate pieces may make a more statuesque woman look like she is wearing her daughter's things.

7) Become a clever copycat.  

Imitation really is the sincerest form of flattery and in these online times, nothing is truly original. If you see someone wearing an accessory well, borrow their styling idea. And don't forget that things like designer lookbooks show you exactly how to combine garments and accessories each season.

8) If in doubt, start with the shoes.

This is a stylist's trick. If you build your outfit around your shoes you are guaranteeing a coordinated look, and you're likely to find you put your outfit together in a new way.

9) Keep it current and fresh.  

Jackie O'Fee says the most common 'fail' she comes across is not paying attention to what's required. "The wrong shoe, the lovely but inappropriate Pounamu with the floaty, totally on-trend top, updating the clothing but not the accessories. Just because that large bead floating on a wire was hot five years ago, does not make it still OK now," she says.

10) Rules are made to be broken.  

If your mother said it once, she said it 1,000 times: if you break style convention, do it with good posture and grooming and a smile on your face. Not only will you get away with it, but you may just set a new trend yourself.

Stuff