We’ve heard Tim Gunn say it time and time again: “Please use the Macy’s or Bluefly Accessory Wall thoughtfully.” The truth of the matter is, accessories can make or break a look. When in doubt, it’s usually less offensive to under accessorize than to have the hat, earrings, bracelet, cocktail ring, AND necklace all in one look (the whole Carmen Miranda thing is NOT what we’re going for). I remember once reading in ELLE magazine that a good rule of thumb is to remove one item before you leave the house. The look you start with is just the first draft. Edit carefully to come up with your final composition. Listen to the wisdom of ELLE, people; they know what they’re talking about!

If you’re like me, you go through phases. l tend to devote myself to one kind of accessory at a time (call me the monogamous type). My first obsession was necklaces. I used to hoard all the vintage ones I could find. After that I moved on to belts—anything studded I was all over. Once I broke up with belts, scarves, hats, and headbands followed. My most recent object of lust: bracelets. I mean, I even bought a special display stand to hold them! Now THAT is commitment.

Okay, okay, so what about this season? It’s all about the cocktail ring and jumbo necklace. There is a theme happening here and it’s large and in charge. I was watching The City the other day (episode when Whit shows here sketches to a B.G. buyer) and Miss Buyer was wearing a massive silver-jeweled necklace. Looooove. Miss Nina of Project Runway was also on trend. She paired her super-cute navy number with a giant teal and red stoned necklace (ugh I want that dress by the way). Need I even mention that Miss Zoe always tops her look off with a fist-full of jumbo cocktail rings? These ladies are all experts in the bizz so they know how to best pull off an accessory. Here’s the thing they know and you may not: it’s all about balance. True or false: you can pull off a commanding necklace with a show-stopping shirt. If you said “yes,” pay close attention (the answer is false by the way).

If you have a simple shirt or dress, preferably a solid color, pair it with a statement piece. Where to buy dramatic pieces? I’m partial to Forever21. They have some excellent gems for a very affordable price tag. Upon deciding the perfect accomplice to any look, think necklines. Usually a high neckline is best complimented by a fairly long necklace (one that reaches your chest area). If you’re showing a little more skin, consider a piece that falls on your sternum (that’s the bone in between your collarbone). Just keep in mind that jewelry should work in tandem with your ensemble; they ought not to fight each other. For example, if you have something with a loud print you might want to forego the necklace and stick with a bracelet and/or ring. If you have something with an exposed back, consider pulling a Coco Chanel or Princess Di. Wear your necklace backwards! I love this look and if you’re brave enough to try it out, your fashion forward factor will go up a notch. Don’t be afraid to take risks. The stakes are high, but the payoff is big.

If you were once clueless, consider yourself informed and until next time, have fun playing with your accessories!

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