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How to match accessories to your outfit

Kori Ellis is an editor and writer based in San Antonio, TX, where she lives with her husband and four children. At SheKnows, she writes about parenting, fashion, beauty and other lifestyle topics. Additionally, Kori has been published i...

Choosing the perfect fashion accessories

Accessories can make or break your look. When choosing fashion accessories to match your outfit, consider the color, scale and style of the pieces, and keep the occasion in mind.

Woman putting on necklace

1Color

color wheel

When you're wearing black, white or other neutrals, accessories in any color look stylish and coordinated. If you're wearing a colorful outfit, though, make sure your fashion accessories don't clash.

It all goes back to the basics of the color wheel. Primary colors, of course, are red, blue and yellow. Secondary colors are those that result from mixing two primary colors (i.e., red plus yellow equals orange).

Primary and secondary colors that are side by side on the wheel are analogous to each other. They work very well together when they are matched on the same level of lightness or darkness.

If you want to make a big fashion statement, choose primary and secondary colors that are opposite of each other on the wheel. Pairing these colors is bold and adventurous, and some shades don't look as good together as others. Avoid partnering red with green, though, unless it's the holiday season. Experiment to find which colors work best for you. In general, don't use more than three colors in your whole ensemble.

2Scale

The scale of your fashion accessories is important, too. When you're wearing patterns, simple accessories are the best option. Accessories and jewelry that are too busy will make prints look tacky. The same goes for ruffled, sequined, embroidered or otherwise embellished garments: Wear understated accessories to keep the emphasis on your outfit.

The scale and shape of your handbag is also important. Consider your body type in addition to what you are wearing. Tall, thin women look best with short, slouchy bags such as hobos and clutches. Petite women should avoid oversized satchels; these bags overwhelm their small frames. Short ladies should also steer clear of handbags with long straps. Plus-size and hourglass-shaped women look fabulous with medium-sized structured or boxy handbags to balance out their curves.

3Style

Fashion accessories can define your style. A white shirt and jeans or simple black dress can look completely different depending on your choice of handbag, shoes, jewelry and other accessories. Here are some common accessories to consider, depending on your personal style:

  • Classic accessories -- pearl- or diamond-stud earrings, silk scarf, leather clutch and classic black pumps
  • Glamorous accessories -- chandelier earrings, bib necklace, large cocktail ring, crystal-embellished clutch, oversized sunglasses and sky-high heels
  • Playful accessories -- chunky jewelry, hobo bag, headbands, skinny belt and colorful ballet flats
  • Edgy accessories -- thick cuff bracelet, choker necklace, studded handbag and black leather booties
  • Workday accessories -- delicate necklace, classic watch, large satchel or shoulder bag and kitten heels
  • Casual accessories -- candy-colored bracelet or watch, Wayfarer sunglasses, crossbody bag, floppy hats and knee-high boots or espadrille sandals

Accessories can take any outfit from drab to fab. They can also help extend your wardrobe because you can achieve multiple looks from one basic dress just by changing your accessories. To look your best, put as much effort into selecting your fashion accessories as you do the main components of your ensemble.

More about fashion accessories

Go big: Oversize accessories we love
Bright and bold accessories to punch up your look
Pretty little things: Fabulous fall accessories

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