Accessorizing 101: quick and easy tips for effortless chic

Accessories can make all the difference between just “wearing clothes” or creating an outfit. But how many and what type of accessories do you need? Today I’m going to share some easy tips to help you accessorize with less effort and more confidence.

I’ve received a few requests for a tutorial on “how to accessorize.” It’s a great topic, but a pretty darn broad one. The number and types of accessories will depend on the person, their style personality, lifestyle, and even geographical region. But over the years I’ve picked up some accessorizing shortcuts that can be tweaked to suit one’s individual style and preferences.

Accessorizing for a finished look

During my style and color training with Red Leopard two years ago, I learned that one should aim for 6-10 “points of interest” in an outfit. Less than that, and the outfit can look a bit humdrum. More than 11 can start to look overdone.* That doesn’t mean 6-10 accessories, though! Color, texture, and details on clothing each count, as does makeup and nail color. Here are a few of my favorite ways to accessorize without overthinking it.

*Certainly there are exceptions, Iris Apfel being one.

Bracelet stack

Susan B. wears a stack of 3 bracelets, gold French medallion with a green band, triple strand chain, and green Aventurine beads.
“Sport” bracelet (c/o) | triple chain bracelet (c/o) | stone bracelet (similar)

A stackup of bracelets creates a nice focal point, and it’s almost impossible to get it wrong. You can add color or not, mix shapes and textures, or go for multiples of a single style. I love Roxanne Assoulin bracelets to add a playful touch. But really, just try it with whatever’s in your jewelry box.

Metallic footwear

Susan B. wears a red sweater, long camel cardigan, bead bracelets, leather belt, straight leg jeans and gold woven leather slingback shoes.

You might be surprised at how versatile and easy to wear metallic footwear can be. Whenever I find myself struggling with a shoe choice for an outfit, it almost always ends up being one of my metallic pairs that makes it work.

I really like these low-heeled slingbacks (Sézane). They can dress up or down and are a good warm weather option for those who prefer a closed-toe shoe. They’re comfortable and have an adjustable back strap. Run true-to-size.

More metallic shoes & sandals


Barrel-leg pants outfit: Susan B wears a cream merino sweater, leopard print belt, Ruti soft twill pants, gold sneakers.

I’m a recent convert to les ceintures. Even if you don’t tuck in your tops completely, just a glimpse of a belt can do a lot of heavy lifting to make an outfit look finished and intentional. (You can also layer over a longer top.)

Earrings & necklaces

Susan B. wears 3 layered gold French Kande necklaces over a v-neck pink sweater with an ivory blazer

Yes, you can wear both (and I usually do). But if I’m wearing a statement or layered necklaces, I’ll skip the earrings, or keep them small and minimal. And visa versa for statement earrings: skip the necklace, or wear something diminutive that won’t compete.

And don’t forget, your bag counts too: Understated elegance: 10 stylish bags without (obvious) logos

As you can see, accessorizing doesn’t have to be crazy complicated. Once you find the combos and formulas that work for you, putting outfits together takes a lot less time and effort. What are some of your top accessorizing shortcuts?

I’ll be doing a separate post on scarves soon, so stay tuned for that one. If you’re enjoying my articles, please be sure to sign up for my newsletter! You’ll be notified of all blog updates plus receive exclusive content for subscribers only.

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  1. I should really save this post and check it when I get dressed. Very good points.
    Love your golden flats and also love the silver flats with the fixed strap and square heel. But, unfortunately…. America.

  2. I had a pair of beautiful metallic TopShop flats that I bought in 2018 at Nordstrom in Chicago when I was there for a conference and realized that the concert that night was a mile walk and my shoes were NOT going to work. Even though they were pointy, they were so comfortable – and I wore them till the soles came apart. I’ve never found anything like them – and I honestly don’t like gold on me (I think I’m a cool summer or winter, and I tend to prefer silver). If I could find those again, I’d buy them in a heartbeat.

    1. You could try some of the sites like eBay, mercari, etc. I have found replacements for beloved items that have worn out. Evenn Eileen Fisher gems. Good luck1

    2. Christine, sadly last year I had to discard a pair of perfect woven gold mules that were SO comfy! The lattice weave was starting to wear, but I was so desperate to get a few more months’ wear from them, I tried to spray paint them gold! LOL! Didn’t work, so I bought a pair that I thought were “close,” but no, nothing comes close to that perfect pair. Boo hoo!

  3. Hi Susan! Great topic as always! I’m not big on jewelry—so would glasses, belt, purse and *color* be my choices— oops and maybe scarf? Recently I’ve been thinking I should get a different watchband as well. I’m kind of a minimalist gal. Thanks!

  4. My daily points of outfit interest: eyeglasses, earrings, a watch, a ring. That’s already four, without even trying. Add a pattern and cool shoes and done! It’s easy to understand how quickly a look can become overdone. Thank you.

  5. Hi Susan,
    I was about to say scarves, you bet me to it! I’ll look forward to that post.
    You look fabulous in your metallic shoe outfit, those colours look so good together on you.
    I own a few nice belts I’d love to wear, however I got so tired of getting holes in my cotton and merino tops that I now mainly wear pull-on jeans and pants…so no loops for belts. Any ideas on how I can wear a belt?
    Julie xx