May 27, 2011

Chicago Manual of Style: Accessible accessories for a variety of styles

Accessories are always hard to dictate because they can be intensely personal. Unlike clothing, they don’t tend to age, and they can be worn as often as every day. A scarf might be special because it was a grandmother’s, or a necklace simply because it has been worn so often.

On the other hand, some accessories are as disposable as those snap bracelets so enthusiastically coveted in elementary school and just as vehemently dismissed upon graduation. Few accessories lie in between, most being either lifelong companions or an ultimately embarrassing fling. With an eye on weeding out the unworthy, here’s a look at the latest spring and summer accessory trends.

Primary Colors: Personally, I’m all in favor. Bright, pre-school-esque accessories combined enthusiastically and with little care for restraint or the-oh-so-dated concept of “matching” are simply fun, although not so simply fashionable. Although the combo of colors should appear thoughtless, this trend works best with colors of a similar tone. A flat orange, green, and blue look great together, for instance. Also, either go big or small--- anything in between can look sloppy or uncoordinated. A large bright piece or two look clean and classic, and more than five colors woven together look bold, but make sure that whatever you do, you’re making a specific statement.

Flatforms, a.k.a. Platforms/Flats Hybrids, a.k.a. This is Why Fashion Has a Bad Rep: Theoretically, these are a comfortable way to gain some height, and they should appear sleek and modern. Practically, they appear more uncomfortable than either of their counterparts because they don’t mimic your foot’s natural slope and are stiff. However, if done correctly they can look chic. I would argue that “correctly” entails clean and modern with enough on top of the foot to balance out the platform immediately beneath it.

Preppy: A sort of ironic/post-modern preppy has been in for a while now, and it works best with accessories. Mix tasseled loafers, oxfords, and plaid into your regular wardrobe for a playful look. Even better, try a different take on these classics: metallic loafers, plaid oxfords, or seersucker anything are all great ways to ensure that you come across as slightly irreverent, not fresh off the golf course.

Belt Purses: Every couple of years, designers are convinced that what women really want is to wear purses around their hips, as if that is the most logical way to free one’s hands but still carry a wallet, sunglasses, phone, and all the other on-the-go essentials. I prefer a cross-shoulder bag. Or a tote. Or pockets large and sturdy enough to carry my stuff, but, alas, that last one seems eternally out of reach. If you want to attempt this trend, the trick is to go for a full-out modern, minimalistic look. You don’t want the words “fanny pack” to cross anyone’s mind, so avoid anything that sticks out too much. Some go around the waist, others around the hips, but all require a sizable portion of bravado.

As for jewelry, rose gold, plastic, tassels, and fringes are all in this season. Rose gold is great because it adds depth to the color and can be mixed with white plastic in particular to combine a vintage and modern feel. The plastic jewelry in style this season tends to be primarily playful, as plastic always should be. Tassels and fringe both work best when paired with restraint. Too much of this combo can look like an exotic animal. Whatever trends you decide to go for, have fun, and keep wearing those oldies but goodies that will never go out of style.