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.

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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 »

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Dianne Webster 2015-05-21 11:08

Great blog post! I'd love to talk with Sarah about some of the featured items. Thanks!

Sarah Z 2015-05-21 15:42

Dianne-- I will be in touch! Glad you liked the blog--so fun, and we all love jewelry!

Eleanor Uddo 2015-05-21 11:18

Great ideas! Never can have too much jewelry!

Kathy Smith 2015-05-21 11:26

Totally agree Eleanor, it is a great way to update anyone's look!

Kathy Smith 2015-05-21 11:20

Terrific Dianne! There are some wonderful necklaces featured!

Tandra Falu 2015-05-21 11:29

I Loved this article. Definitely continues to give me new and innovative ways to spruce up a wardrobe. I Love COLOR and Statement Pieces especially when it comes to Jewelry. So this Article was right down my lane. Thank you! Thank you!

Kathy Smith 2015-05-21 11:33

Thanks Tandra! So glad you enjoyed it!
Statement pieces and color in jewelry are a sure win to keep one's wardrobe current.

Alice 2015-05-21 14:51

I find that a long necklace can distract from my tummy when I wear a camisole under an open jacket (or an open jacket over a dress.). It gives a long line, fills in the front with an interesting focal point, and "hides" any rolls that anyone might have(not that we have any!) A bonus is that you can just pop it over your head without having to fuss with the clasp. For a fun look, wear a large pendant on a shorter chain--say 20", and then a long 30" necklace that will layer below it.

Kathy Smith 2015-05-21 18:43

Thanks Alice! What a great idea to put a larger pendant on shorter necklace. The long necklace also works on dresses to create a longer leaner look too.

Chris B. 2015-05-21 18:35

About nine years ago I saw on QVC a Lori Grenier full-lenth dressing mirror on sale. The front mirror panel opened to reveal jewelry storage inside. That became my weakness: to buy jewelry. Now alas the inside of the mirror has filled up and I have no more room for the baubles bangles and bracelets. Some women love shoes I have had an obsession with jewelry. The fatal flaw was the TJ Maxx jewelry counter. The counter girls see me coming as the expression goes and dollar signs light up in their eyes. Madeleine Albreight (sp?) wrote a book called Read My Pins about how she made a statement with her brooches. Keep the fashion blog entries coming. Thank you for your blog entries about style. Fashion isn't frivolous. It does matter.

Kathy Smith 2015-05-21 18:46

You are right Chris! How you dress and put yourself together says a lot of how you "feel" about yourself.
Glad you enjoyed the post.

Elizabeth 2015-05-22 14:13

Great tips, Kathy! Jewelry does add the final touch to an outfit. For all the fashionistas on the East Coast - the traveling exhibit of Madeleine Albright's pins will be at Wellesley College, her alma mater, in June/July. Worth a trip!

Elizabeth 2015-05-22 14:14

oops! The exhibit was last year. But the book is still available.

Katharine 2015-09-30 13:50

This is one of the best posts! Reason? Pictures are worth a thousand words! Why do so many of the Dressing Well posts not include pictures to get their ideas understood?? Love the info. I would love more pix! I'm a visual learner! ;)


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