Print this page
Wednesday, 20 May 2015
The Dressing Well Blog
Kathy Smith

5 Ideas for Building a Cost-Effective Jewelry Wardrobe

By Dressing Well Stylist Kathy Smith


My years as a former accessory buyer for Talbots came home to roost recently when I was working with a new Dressing Well client.

My client confessed she had only two accessories in her wardrobe that she felt comfortable wearing–a pearl necklace and matching pearl earrings that had been given to her on her wedding day. The set meant a great deal to her, had become her go-to and was actually perfect in terms of scale for her petite frame. Yet, she was limiting her overall style by only wearing this one type of jewelry.

Like any well-trained buyer for a retail chain, I swiftly created a list of missing inventory. After a successful shopping outing, here is a sampling of what this client now owns (and wears!) along with 5 ideas to help you build your own functional jewelry collection without breaking the bank.

#1 Sets keep things simple. In addition to pearls, gold and silver necklace, bracelet and earring sets are a great place to start if you are low on jewelry. Wear them together or break them up. Modern versions are designed to look not so "matchy-match." When I think of somebody who really knew how to wear pearl sets, I think of Jackie O. Michelle Obama wears pearls well too – google both fashion icons for inspiration!


Channel your inner Jackie by purchasing your own pearl studs for $24
or this versatile triple strand pearl necklace for $61 (it's currently on sale!)

#2 Diamond studs (faux or real) can add just the right touch. Some of our clients wear diamond studs exclusively on a day-to-day basis to eliminate the time it takes to accessorize outfits individually. Studs with diamond (or diamond-like) stones easily coordinate with other pieces of jewelry -- necklaces, bracelets, watches etc. – and can also cut down on wardrobe prep for travel if that is a need.


Purchase these faux diamond studs, also just $24!

#3 Hoop earrings punch things up. Having a collection of hoop earrings in various metals and sizes is an easy way to get a big style punch. Like diamond studs, they easily coordinate with a variety of necklaces, bracelets, cuffs etc. and come in handy when these other accessories are hard to match. They’re also very on-trend right now (check out the celebs below!!). If your outfit has other metals already woven in, i.e. zippers and other embellishments, hoop earrings in a similar finish can keep your look uncluttered but complete.

3 hoops

Purchase these "goddess" hoops for $34 – we love them!

#4 Long necklaces are modern and fun. Many of our clients are looking for updated casual outfits for work and play. An easy way to achieve a fun, modern look is by pairing long sweaters and layering tops with slim pants. A long necklace will complete the look while mirroring the long, lean line provided by the other outfit components.


Purchase this awesome layering necklace for $98

#5 Statement necklaces finish outfits while adding extra style. If you work in a professional office environment and want to forgo a jacket or other layering piece, try adding a statement necklace as the "third" wardrobe component (i.e. a top, bottom, and piece of jewelry) to complete an outfit while adding signature style.


Purchase this versatile statement necklace for $138

A word on watches: You can’t really discuss building a jewelry collection without a conversation about watches. Since many of us use our cell phones to keep time these days, watches have outlived their usefulness for some people. For others, they have morphed into an opportunity to make a significant fashion statement with big, bold styles currently in vogue and leading the way. It is not uncommon for men and women to have a collection of watches that they use to accent both weekday and weekend personas. Guys, this might be the only accessory you will ever need!


Extra Thought: For me personally, I still love wearing the watch my husband gave me many years ago. Like pearls received on a wedding day, the sentimentally factor is how I choose to make my own style statement.

Click to Share:
Kathy Smith

For Kathy Smith, clothing and fashion are an extension of who she is. Raised by a mom who was a professional model, Kathy had a bird’s eye view into styling at an early age as she accompanied her mom on photo shoots and watched as a styling team pulled together an eclectic array of clothing and accessories for her mom to bring to life. She recalls being stimulated by the colors, shapes and silhouettes of the selected fashions and speaks fondly of the impact this experience had on her career path.

Learn more about Kathy »

Related items