I had a follow-up virtual styling session with Bridgette Raes last week (read about my first session with Bridgette here and here). I listened to my recording from the session yesterday and there is a lot there! I was originally going to do a single post about my second session with Bridgette, but now I just don’t think that will suffice! Consequently, I will devote several posts to debriefing my follow-up styling session. These posts won’t necessarily be consecutive but will all be published within the next couple of weeks.
I know that many of you would probably love to work with a professional stylist, but that may not be feasible for financial or other reasons. So I’ve decided to let you in on my experience in the hope that you will glean some valuable style insights through what I’ve learned. Although Bridgette’s advice is specific to my situation and needs, much of it will also be applicable to others, especially the information pertaining to accessorizing and color coordination. These are topics often covered on Bridgette’s excellent blog, but I thought these points might be driven home further by means of my personal example.
Part One – All About the Jewelry
Today’s post focuses specifically on accessories, primarily jewelry. I took photos of all of my jewelry pieces and shared them with Bridgette via Dropbox. I wanted to get feedback from her on what I have, as well as some suggestions for priority items to purchase in the near term.
Although I have pared down my jewelry collection considerably since the beginning of the year (you can read about that process here and here), I still have a large assortment of pieces. In photographing my items, I tried to organize them as logically as possible to make it easier to discuss what I have with Bridgette. That process also helped me to better understand what I have in terms of the various jewelry categories. I share all of the photos below, interjected with Bridgette’s feedback.
If you find yourself struggling with an overabundance of jewelry, it may be helpful for you to organize and photograph your pieces in logical groupings as I have. I found that I was able to identify areas of duplication this way that I didn’t notice previously. It’s very likely that you will experience similar realizations. Yes, it takes time and energy to do the re-organizing and take photos, but it just might help you get un-stuck and more readily be able to purge some of your large jewelry collection.
The Short Necklaces – Neutrals
I currently have eight short necklaces in either silver or gunmetal tones. They are mostly pendant styles, although one is more of a “statement necklace” (see photo of these items later on in this section).
I recently decided to let go of another necklace in this category, a very shiny and ornate looking silver style that I could never figure out how to wear.
I had sent Bridgette a few photos of me wearing the above necklace and her primary thought was that it looked very dressy and too formal for both the pictured ensembles and my lifestyle. I had come to a similar conclusion myself, which is why I ultimately decided to pass the necklace on. It’s a beautiful piece, but it really has no place in my life.
The necklace was purchased prior to my writing this blog and was an impulse buy at a “jewelry party.” I also bought a pair of earrings at that event which were likewise too formal for me and my daily activities. I wasted a big chunk of money by buying jewelry items solely because I liked the way they looked. I didn’t stop to ask myself Bridgette’s tried and true question, “Where are you going in that?” and suffered the consequences. In my defense, I didn’t know about Bridgette and her advice yet!
I share my foibles here in the hope that you may be able to avoid making the same type of mistakes. Before buying any new jewelry piece or article of clothing, always identify real life occasions when you will wear the item in question. You can save yourself money, guilt, and regret by pausing to take this one quick step!
Below are the short neutral necklaces I still own:
So what did Bridgette have to say about these necklaces? She feels they all suit my lifestyle much better than the necklace I wrote about above, but they are a bit repetitive in style. She feels that I’m “splitting my wears” by having so many similar pendants and that I could probably cull the eight necklaces down to just two. She recommended that I pay attention to which ones I wear over the next year or so and then purge the rarely or never worn pieces.
I agree that there is redundancy in this collection, but I didn’t really notice how much until my session with Bridgette. A few of these pieces are kind of old and were being stored in a different section of my jewelry armoire. Had I been more aware of what I had, I hopefully wouldn’t have purchased new items which fit the same necklace category. However, I have long operated under the assumption that neutral pieces are more versatile than colored items, which is a large part of why I bought so many. Bridgette is really shifting my views in this regard. More on that below…
Colored Short Necklaces
I have ten short necklaces which incorporate color in either the pendant or chain (or both).
Of these, Bridgette was surprised to see the orange necklace (fifth from the left) due to its warmer tone. I told her this is an older piece that I’ve kept to wear with my remaining warm-toned clothing items (brown, orange, yellow, coral). I still like the style and it works well for its intended purpose, but I don’t plan to purchase any new jewelry (or clothing) in warm tones, as I have a cool complexion and have recently identified a color palette which works well for me.
Bridgette’s favorite of my colorful necklaces is the one on the left, a peridot and smoky topaz pendant that was a gift for my 40th birthday from my father and stepmother. Bridgette likes the modern, sleek, architectural nature of this piece and feels it’s a good match for my style. I don’t wear this necklace often but I plan to incorporate it into my outfits more regularly following Bridgette’s feedback.
Bridgette also liked the moon-shaped labradorite pendant (third from left – probably 18 years old!) and the green pendant (third from right) because the colors are bright and good shades for me. She recommended that if I get any more short necklaces, I should go brighter and less delicate. She feels that my necklaces are pretty but may not reflect my clean, modern style. She suggested that I ask myself if my current necklaces are “me” now. I’m going to ponder that question and see how I feel when I put my various necklaces on. I will see which ones resonate with me in the coming months and then decide which ones are ready to be passed on.
The Long Necklaces
I have eleven long necklaces, as shown in the two photos below.
Bridgette’s issue with my long necklaces is that they’re all silver and there’s a lot of duplication. Her favorite one is the necklace with different sized circles at the bottom of the second photo. Interestingly, that’s my favorite long necklace, too! I also prefer the necklaces in the second photo over the ones in the first photo, probably because they are simpler in style.
When I went through my jewelry the last time, I had a difficult time deciding which long necklaces should stay and which should go. I kept so many, as I plan to push myself to wear necklaces more often to see which ones rise to the top. I tend to wear long necklaces and scarves more often in the cooler months, which have yet to begin in my neck of the woods. I can see Bridgette’s point about the similarity among my necklaces and I likely will pare down my collection to around half the current size within the next six months or so.
In my jewelry armoire, I separated out my earrings into neutral and colored pairs:
Bridgette and I mostly discussed my colored earrings, which are shown in the second photo above. Her main comment was that I have a lot of blue pieces, which is true. In fact, I didn’t realize how many blue earrings I have until I organized my collection by color. I also have quite a few pairs of green earrings, while other colors are not represented much at all.
Bridgette told me that many of her clients have the same level of duplication in their wardrobes as I do. She said that people often have a ton of stuff and “nothing to wear” because so much of it is the same. In terms of my jewelry, how many different ways can I wear blue earrings? She recommended that I either don’t buy any more blue earrings or that I institute a “one-in, one-out” policy with them. She suggested that I buy some purple earrings, as well as other colors in my palette (burgundy, red, fuchsia, etc). I love purple and was surprised at how few jewelry pieces I have in that color. Purple jewelry pieces are now on my shopping priorities list!
When I mentioned that I have too many earrings that are on the small side, Bridgette said that we all need to have both bigger and smaller earrings, especially if we like to wear bolder necklaces from time to time. It’s best to pair a larger necklace with a smaller pair of earrings in order to keep things balanced. On the flip side, if your stand-out jewelry piece in an outfit is a pair of larger earrings, it’s good to skip the necklace in that instance. Accessories are wonderful and really have the power to elevate our looks, but we should be mindful not to go too “over the top” with our jewelry.
There aren’t really any hard and fast rules, as style personas vary widely, but the general guidelines are as I just outlined. We all know of women who can pull off looks that would be too much on almost anyone else, but we should trust our instincts when we look in the mirror. If we’re worried that perhaps we have too much jewelry on, it’s very likely that we’re right!
Finally, the Bracelets
Last but not least (before we moved on to the outfits, that is), Bridgette and I looked at my bracelets. I currently have 32 bracelets, which I separated out into three groupings:
Bridgette was impressed with my bracelet collection. Not surprisingly, she really liked my colored bracelets, which again include a lot of blue. Her favorite piece was the purple and pink beaded bracelet that my friend gave me a few months back. She suggested that I wear this bracelet with the bright purple garments in my closet, but I can also pair it with complementary colors and neutrals like navy or black.
I really like my bracelets, too, but I know there is quite a bit of duplication there. The bracelets I’ve been wearing the most are the ones in the first photo, especially the two black leather bracelets (the wrapped style with silver chain details and the belt buckle style with silver hearts). The embellished grey cuff in the second photo used to be a tried and true favorite, but I don’t love it as much these days.
I think Bridgette is right in that I currently prefer more clean and modern styles in both jewelry and clothing. Some of my jewelry pieces pre-date my style evolution and don’t really suit who I am today. As my preferences continue to evolve, I’ll no doubt let go of some old favorite items in my jewelry collection, just as I have done with the garments in my closet. Even looking at the photos today, I have some definite ideas about what I’d like to hold on to and what can easily go.
I no longer feel the emotional need to have an overly large wardrobe, and that holds for my accessory assortment as well. It’s taking me a while to lower my closet “set point” to a more reasonable level, but I’m feeling more and more satisfied with less these days. I’m happy that I’ve taken my time to pare down, however, as I’m still in danger of feeling a sense of scarcity that can lead to a panicked shopping spree. If you’re like me and have a tendency to quickly purge your wardrobe and then overshop in compensation, check out my advice for how to best manage your transition to a smaller closet.
Some Advice on Color Combinations
I’ll close this post with some advice from Bridgette on color combining. First of all, our jewelry does not have to match our clothing. It can look very stylish to wear jewelry pieces in colors that our complementary to the garments in our outfits (some great advice in this post). We can also use our colorful jewelry pieces to accent our neutral ensembles.
If you struggle with deciding which colorful jewelry pieces to wear or buy, use your patterned garments as a guide. For example, if you own a printed top like the one below (a previous wardrobe “benchwarmer” of mine that’s now a closet favorite), you can pull any of the colors from the print to wear in your jewelry pieces, handbags, and shoes. I would have the option of wearing mint, red, yellow, or pink accessories in addition to neutrals like black, white, and metallic. For years, I only opted to pair my garments with neutral accessories, but now a whole new world has opened up for me in terms of color coordination!
Be careful about how many different colors you include in a given outfit, however. A good rule of thumb is not to wear more than two colors unless they are “grounded” by a neutral. So I could successfully wear a mint necklace and red pair of shoes with the top above, but if I also wore a bracelet in one of those colors or another bright tone, it would likely be too much.
Likewise, if you opt to pull only one color from a print for your accessories, don’t include too many instances of that color within an ensemble. I could probably wear a red cardigan and red pair of shoes with my printed tank, but adding red earrings would create a too “matchy-matchy” effect that isn’t in line with the current style aesthetic.
Bridgette has written lots of blog posts which offer excellent color combining advice. For your reference, here are a few of my favorites:
- “How to Wear Color to Work” (great advice even for those of us who don’t work in an office)
- “How to Have the Right Accessories to Change Up Your Looks” (a post from earlier this week – one of Bridgette’s best!)
- “Colorful Accessories: Your Road Map for Combining Color”
- “Base, Accent, Pop: Adding Color to Work Outfits” (again, this is useful advice for all of us!)
Conclusion and “Throwback Thursday”
I hope you enjoyed this first post debriefing my follow-up virtual styling session with Bridgette Raes. In future posts in this series, we’ll dive into some of the advice Bridgette gave me on some of my troubling outfits, as well as her tips for taking my best looks up a notch.
One thing Bridgette does each week on Thursdays is recap some of her posts from last year at that time. Since I have a lot of posts in my archives and many of you are likely newer readers, I decided to start doing the same thing. Here’s what I was writing about in mid-October of 2013:
- “Decisions, Decisions… The Keep or Purge Question” – I offer five powerful questions to ask yourself if you find yourself with too many clothes in your closet and want to pare down. This is one of my most read posts and it was written exactly a year ago today!
- “A Tale of Two Shoppers” – Differentiating between how shopaholic shops versus a conscious, mindful buyer. The catch with this post is that both shoppers I wrote about are me, at two different points in time.
- “Useful Links to Help You Shop Your Closet” – This post offers a number of links to advice on how to better work with what we already own. We often think we need to buy more in order to cultivate the look we want, but that’s not always the case!
Feel free to share your insights on the topics of this post or any of the “Throwback Thursday” posts above. Unfortunately, I had to close comments on my earlier posts due to a severe spam problem, but you’re welcome to comment and ask questions about previous topics in the current comments section.