The Ultimate Guide To Accessories That Look Classy, Not Tacky

What’s the difference between accessories that elevate your outfits and ones that make you look like a 13-year-old girl going through an identity crisis? After many years of trial and error, I’m here with my go-to styling guide to use next time you get dressed.

By Anna Hartman3 min read
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Building a ladylike outfit is certainly the first step to dressing the part of a chic and sophisticated woman, but what goes on after you’ve laid the foundation can truly make or break the entire aesthetic. Current trends in jewelry include crafty friendship-style beads, vibrant enamel rings, layered pearls, belly chains, arm cuffs, chokers, and ultra-chunky metals. 

Can we please take a moment here to let out a collective *shudder*? All of the above cringey trends are a nod to Y2K and ’90s nostalgia, with the one exception of “pearlcore” inspired by the Regency era

After a long wave of minimalism, the pendulum is ready to swing in the opposite direction (and we’re not quite sure that’s a good thing). 

Cosmo says “wear the rainbow,” but what this actually means is that they want you to abandon your timeless, dainty jewelry in favor of the latest trends…at the expense of your bank account, of course. Now, surely this sentiment only applies until they announce that the most stylish girls are wearing something entirely different. 

At the moment, however, the trends they want to see you in showcase dreadfully bright, elementary beads, and anything with flowers, butterflies, and yes, even alphabet charms. Excuse me while I sit this one out. 

Embracing “maximalism” in jewelry is all about layering on accessories that are bold and playful, but not necessarily classy. While many women may blindly follow the latest trends thinking it will make them look stylish, it will more than likely come across as tacky. 

Needless to say, we don’t want you to fall into the same dreadful trap. Without further ado, let’s get into the four rules of accessorizing that I live by and recommend to my sisters, best friends, and those I value most (hi, you). 

Less Is More

Let’s follow our French style mentors’ lead on this one: an effortless vibe is the goal. Appearing as if it didn’t take more than 5-10 minutes to get ready is one of the reasons their fashion sense is admired and emulated by women across the globe. Trying too hard is never appealing, and I can’t think of anything that makes this more obvious than drawing attention to yourself with chunky, vibrant jewelry or 15 different elements weighing down your ears, neck, and arms.

Personally, I’m extremely conservative when it comes to adding accessories. I almost always have a tiny pair of gold hoop earrings on. However, when it comes to the rest of my jewelry, my rule of thumb is to choose either a necklace, ring, bracelet, or watch. 

In special circumstances, considering the occasion and outfit, I think tiny earrings, a dainty necklace, and a watch (all with matching metals) can be appropriate. That being said, I never leave my dressing room wearing more than three categories because I think it can be distracting and take away from my outfit choice. 

Consider Your Outfit

This leads me to my next point: consider what clothing you’re wearing. For example, if you’re styling a colorful, floral dress with a wide-brimmed hat and detailed slides, I would suggest accessorizing with a very minimal pair of earrings (like tiny diamond studs or gold hoops) only. 

On the other hand, if you’re wearing a simple LBD with nude pointed-toe pumps, you have more room to get creative with your accessories. Feel free to pair earrings with either a necklace (layered if that’s your thing) or a ring/bracelet/watch to make your overall look more eye-catching.  

Stick to One Metal

Silver is the new gold when it comes to trends in 2022, but that doesn’t mean you need to recreate your entire jewelry collection if you’ve worn gold for the past several years. No matter what your metal preference is, I do recommend that you stick with one rather than trying to mix gold and silver together. 

If you’re an engaged or married woman, try your best to match the rest of your jewelry to the metal on your band(s) so that everything flows together seamlessly. 

Ignore the Trends

Instead of overhauling your jewelry box each year (or season) to make room for trends that you’ll love for five seconds, invest in timeless pieces that will last a lifetime. 

Resist the urge to purchase anything that feels super “trendy.” When you’re shopping, consider how often you would realistically wear that piece of jewelry in your everyday life. As pretty as it may be on its own, a beaded necklace or bedazzled choker is more likely to sit in your drawer collecting dust than it is to pair elegantly with your wardrobe staples

If you’re still working on building up your accessory collection, here are six classy staples to invest in that will never go out of style:

Tiny Hoops $48.00 | Dainty Necklace $51.26 | Delicate Bracelet $70.00 | Simple Diamond Ring $148.00 | Timeless Watch $96.00

Closing Thoughts

Trends come and go, but becoming skilled in accessorizing in a classy and effortless way will last a lifetime. 

Don’t let TikTok convince you that you should be wearing rainbow beaded necklaces to the office as a 20-something woman. With the amount of time and effort we put into carefully curating our outfits, let’s make sure that our overall aesthetic isn’t tarnished by unfortunate jewelry choices. 

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