A is for…Accessorizing: Accouterments & Adornments – PART 1

Raise your hand if this has happened to you: You open your closet doors, stare into the mess of fabrics and whine “I have nothing to wear” … We should all have a hand up right now…I do…seriously, I’m typing this one handed…

Our rational brain is telling us what we already know; we have plenty of things to wear. The problem? We have worn the things in our closet previously and we’re searching for an outfit that feels new or special. The trick to solving the nothing-to-wear dilemma without spending more money: decategorizing and accessorizing!

Accessories – The most effective way to change an entire look, sometimes in the most affordable way. Most people think of accessories as only jewelry and a few extras, like a scarf. I like to take a much broader approach to defining accessories – accessories are everything but the clothing to cover you. It’s the “what you don’t need” but it makes a world of difference. I think about accessories in two categories:

  • Accouterments – pieces of clothing added to the outfit for interest and/or purpose
  • Adornments – pieces to adorn oneself with such as jewelry & headpieces

You’ve probably heard it before, but it’s good advice to start with one piece of clothing and build an outfit from there. I like to follow a 5 step thought process:

  1. What are the circumstances I’m getting dressed for (pretty basic, right?) – Consider location, activities, attendees, etc.
  2. What “style” look I am going for – Church? A preppier, conservative look. Date? I will want to look attractive and approachable. By focusing on a style you can begin to hone in on certain pieces.
  3. Temperature is of great importance – It seems like a no-brainer, but give temperatures and temp changes some significant consideration. It may be sweltering outside but chilly in an office or restaurant.                                                                           —After those 3 considerations you should have an idea of your fashion end-goal. The last two seal the deal and complete the look—                           
  4. What can I wear differently – This is where decatergorization comes into play. Taking things out of the “for work”, “for day”, “dressy” categories and mixing them into other looks is the fastest way to expand your wardrobe and fashion prowess.
  5. What accouterments and adornments can I add for function and/or visual interest.

I put together some examples of styling with accouterments and adornments.  I chose one piece to add to and decided on a medium-weight dress to transition into Fall weather. Since brights and prints are going to be big trends in Fall (hallelujah for not giving up fashion-sunshine in the cold) I chose a dress with both:


AC1This first look is an example of converting a “dressy” piece into a casual-daytime look. The denim accouterments immediately chills-out the fancy factor of the dress and makes it fitting for more causal events like a day-date to the Aquarium or brunch with friends. The sleeves of the jacket can be worn down or rolled up based on temperature.

AC2The adornments are easy and a bit kitschy. I love the look of over-sized link-chains. The necklace and earnings are plastic to keep the causal vibe going. The Yurman style bracelet is simple but more sophisticated than the other pieces, to prevent the outfit from feeling too young.


I chose Converse to complete the look because I wanted to keep the overall theme fun! Plus I love the opposition of sneakers and a floral dress.

If you wanted to do the same casual look but go for a preppier vibe or a look that’s more age appropriate to you, change the accouterments. Switch out the jean-jacket for an over-sized boyfriend sweater that runs most of the length of the dress and trade the Converse for laid-back flats; choose a shoe more along the lines of a Tom’s Canvas Flat than a ballet flat.

Check out your closet and see what dressy pieces you can do a casual spin on!


Though the Fit-&-Flare dress has a conservative cut, I wanted show its versatility when paired with the right adornments.



Bejeweled and glamorous pieces take the dress out for a night on the town.  A jeweled statement necklace has enough heft to stand up against the dress but the complimenting colors don’t compete for attention. Jeweled earring and bracelet-watch assist in glamorizing the look.








AF3With so much heavy sparkle in the other jewelry pieces, a delicate ring like this black-diamond cross is all you need. It still looks luxe but not gaudy.


I have a “slight” addiction to sparkle, so the fact that I own about 6 pairs of “glitter” shoes doesn’t shock the people who know me. I chose this ankle strap pair because the satin in front is more subtle but the glitter heel is a party. It’s like the mullet of shoes, in the best way! 🙂

And remember, if fancy-but-not-so-glamorous is what you’re after, just switch out the jewels for golden pearls and the glitter-shoes for classic nude pumps. Instantly going-out-dress becomes going-to-a-wedding dress!

What pieces in your closet would love to go for a night at the club instead of a day at the office?


AW1This last look takes the dress right into the cooler weather of Fall and tops it off with some edge. The accouterments supply the outfit with crisp-weather appropriateness.  A faux fur and leather vest, ankle booties and tights (not pictured) combat chilly weather. Choose a pair of black tights with interest like lace, fishnet, or chevron.



I  juxtaposed two  “ideas” for the adornments; dainty and tough. This is two necklaces layered to grab the dainty prettiness of the thin chains and small black stones, then toughen them up with spikes. The earrings and bracelet each pick a team to continue the mix.



If it’s even colder outside (Polar Vortex, I’m glaring at you) layer a black scoop-neck shirt in a thin wool under the dress and vest, and go for thicker, opaque tights. The shape of the dress will maintain a femininity for the outfit and the colors and pattern will keep the covered look feeling light.

Ready to bring out your inner rock goddess? Peruse your closet for pretty pieces, then toughen up!


What have been some of your favorite accessory moments? What’s one of your favorite accessories to wear? Share your accessory wins, fails or tips below!



Be sure to check our PART 2 of our Accessories conversation where we will be discussing where to purchse and find help for:

Adding Accouterments & Adornments!


3 thoughts on “A is for…Accessorizing: Accouterments & Adornments – PART 1

    • Thanks Jess, the ring is a personal favorite of mine for Saints season especially 😉

      I will have suggestions on where to find accessorizing assistance in tomorrow’s blog, but you know how to find me with any questions also!

  1. Pingback: A is for…Accessorizing: Accouterments & Adornments – PART 2 | Some alphabet soup

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