Accessorize

By Amy Winter

March 5, 2010 5 min read

Your look for prom isn't all about picking the right dress; accessories can make or break an outfit. Personalize your look by choosing accessories that fit your style. You can stand out by adding a few unique touches to a common dress. Go bold with chandelier earrings, cuffs and large-stone necklaces, or choose a funky vibe with bib collars and stackable bangles.

Nicole Brewer, a style expert with David's Bridal, says there is an art to accessorizing. Often people tend to overdo it. Avoid overpowering the dress with too many accessory pieces. You don't want the jewelry and other items to "take away from the dress," according to Brewer.

"Focus on the statement of the dress," Brewer says. "Accessories are the backup dancers, while the dress is the lead singer."

Less is more when it comes to picking accessories. Create a statement with each accessory by letting it stand out, Brewer advises. Too many pieces can be overwhelming. Adam Moon, Macy's fashion director, recommends choosing two or three items -- for example, jewelry, a hair accessory and a handbag.

"Great accessories are the finishing touches," Moon says. "The sparkle of a necklace or the perfect shoe color can be the one thing that pulls the whole look together."

Dawn Mohr, a prom jewelry expert with David's Bridal, suggests putting on your accessories while wearing your dress. The neckline, hem lengths and style of the dress can influence your accessory choices. With one-shoulder or jeweled-neckline dresses, you probably should skip a necklace. Instead, try oversize earrings, layering bracelets or cocktail rings. Mohr recommends wearing a necklace with a low neckline or strapless dress.

Even hairstyle can play a part in selecting accessories. Cynthia Nellis, a fashion writer for About.com, says fancy drop earrings look great when hair is pulled back. And bold earrings, such as hoops, stand out with long, loose hair. Moon says that hair accessories can be a key fashion element. In order for the headband, flower clip or jeweled tiara to stand out, avoid overaccessorizing your neck. Brewer recommends focusing on the lower areas with bracelets or rings; you most likely won't need a necklace or earrings.

Trends in prom accessories change, but there are certain pieces that stay classic. Mohr says sparkling jewelry (e.g., sequins and rhinestones), strappy sandals, clutches and headbands are always great ways to dress up your outfit for special events. Hollywood glamour, celebrity trends and even bridal fashion play a part in prom fashion. Nellis mentions some currently popular accessories -- including oversize cocktail rings, bracelets and gold pieces, such as gold earrings.

When it comes to choosing colors, accessories don't need to be "matchy, matchy" with your dress, according to Mohr. Go with accessories that complement your dress. Shades of coral, berries and sea blues catch the eye. Find colors that "pop" and serve as accents to your dress, according to Moon.

A pretty handbag (e.g., clutch, wristlet or purse) should work with your outfit and serve as a place to keep your valuables. Choose from prints, solid colors or metallics. Some contain accents -- such as pleating, ruching and sparkles, according to David's Prom (by David's Bridal). Brewer recommends having a bag that's a solid color if your dress has multiple colors.

Be smart when picking shoes. Avoid wearing high heels if you can't walk in them; you want shoes in which you feel comfortable to move around and dance. Brewer suggests choosing shoes with more stability, perhaps a wedge or strappy sandal. Pick shoes in neutral colors or metallics or even satin colors that go with the dress. Before the dance, Brewer stresses, it's important to walk on different surfaces in your shoes.

Accessories are meant to match your style and personalize your outfit. If you want a preppy look, go for cute pearl jewelry, according to Nellis. Pick bangle bracelets if you want to display a more boho feel.

"Picking accessories should be strategic," Brewer says. "Make a statement with each accessory, but don't let accessories take away from the beauty of the dress."

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