AKA How to Mesmerize With The Way You Accessorize
In 2009, Sheena Matheiken started The Uniform Project. In this “sartorial critique of disposible fashion,” (and 16-year-old me’s first brush with the concept of sustainability), Sheena documented herself wearing the same dress (she had 7 copies of it made) every single day for a year, with the added challenge of relying only on her own wardrobe, secondhand items, and donations from friends: nothing new.
While Sheena and I have quite different styles, I loved the way she transformed this simple dress literally 365 times by buttoning and unbuttoning, layering, even wearing it backwards. But, what I found the most exciting was her knack for accessorizing. With her strategic use of scarves, hats, collars, socks, belts, and—of course—jewelry, you’d sometimes heave to squint to realize it was the same dress every time.
These days, I feel naked without a pair of earrings, at least one bracelet or necklace (usually two of each), a few rings, and—you get the picture. And now, I want to be your Sheena, and inspire you to build a collection of wearable bric-a-brac to elevate even your simplest looks. But first: while personal style has no rules (despite the title of the next section), there are a few ideas you might want to take note of to help you dress your best. Ideas like:
The Rule of Four
The fashion “rule of four” has a number of definitions, depending on which stylist you ask. For some, it means that you need at least four “points of interest” to make an outfit work. For others, it’s at least four accessories. There’s also a rule of three that dictates how you split up your body with clothing, and another rule of twos that encourages you to “group” the items you wear together in even numbers to create cohesion. But all of that is a little too complex to me.
When getting dressed, I generally prefer Payton Dale’s mantra: four pieces is an outfit, six is a look. For me, dresses count as two pieces, and shoes count for one.
So, say you’re wearing a top, some jeans, and some shoes: that’s only three pieces, which means you’re not quite at an outfit yet. Your fourth piece doesn’t necessarily have to be pure decoration. It can be simply adding a layer like a jacket, something functional like a pair of (visible) socks or tights, or a bag. Where it gets a bit more complex (but fun!) is figuring out what additional two items will transform your perfectly fine outfit (really, you can stop at four if you want!) into a bonafide lewk.
For Accessories 101, we’ll be focusing on jewelry and belts, as they are the most versatile and affordable (and my personal faves).