The Finishing Touch

A little bling goes a long way, especially when it comes to parties.  Most of the time, it isn’t enough to pull a dress off the hanger and run out the door.  A dress is just one part of the outfit, and there are other elements that can help complete a look.  You can take any outfit from basic to brilliant by just adding a few stand-out accessories.  Whether you’re a bag lady, a shoe fiend or a jewelry addict, any (and potentially all) of these addictions can add some interest to a dress.  Here are some guidelines for how to go about accessorizing for a night out:

The Formal Affair

Solid Gown: For a fancier look, opt for pieces with a metallic finish.  Strappy stilettos, a small clutch and sparkly jewelry can make a simple dress more elegant for a formal occasion.  Basic black looks great with anything – metallics, colors or prints – and if your gown is a bright color, it’s fun to add some contrast with your accessories.  Recently, Blake Lively made purple platform pumps work with a royal blue fitted dress.  Solid colored gowns look great when accessorized with a clutch or small handbag (even a chunky heel) in an unexpected hue or an animal print.

Patterned Gown: When choosing which shoes and purses to wear with a detailed dress, consider pieces that aren’t necessarily matchy-matchy.  Neutrals coordinate with almost anything, and they’re back in a big way this summer.  They’re sleek and refreshing when paired with a dress that has a pattern or several colors.  Delicate hoops or dangly earrings in gold or silver (depending on your color scheme) add a little something to an intricate dress without being too distracting.  Bangles and big necklaces can give a dress a bohemian, but classy, feel

The Saturday-Night Festive Party

Classic Cocktail Dress: Platform pumps or chunky heels can add some weight to a dainty party dress.  Strappy sandals work well, too, but trendier footwear can make a simple short dress party-ready.  Cross-body purses are incredibly popular, not to mention functional.  They fit (almost) everything you need, and allow you to dance all night without losing track of your belongings.  Use jewelry to spice things up – add sparkle if that’s your taste, or channel rock n’ roll with studs and chains.

Sequined Mini: These pieces can speak for themselves, so accessories can be minimal when your dress shines on its own.  Treat this piece similar to the classic cocktail dress, but keep shoes and bags relatively simple.  Black or neutral tones work well, in materials like leather or satin.  Simple jewelry works best as well – try gemstone studs and a statement bracelet.

Beachy Celebration

Breezy Brights: Flowy fabrics are perfect for parties on the beach, and pair nicely with wooden/cork wedges and lightweight leather goods.  Even flat gladiator-style sandals can work with a casual dress.  Experiment with colorful jewelry that has multi-colored stones and metals.  Add a hat if it’s daytime, and as long as you don’t mind hat hair!

Playful Short Dress: For a more casual event, summery espadrille wedges make a year-round dress more season-specific.  A straw clutch is the ultimate beach-party accessory, and one in a neutral shade matches any dress.  To add more play to your look, try a big cocktail ring with a bright stone or in a brushed metal.  Or if your dress has an open neck, add a necklace with different sized and colored chains.  Bangles are always in style, and give off a beachy, casual vibe.  Delicate hoop or turquoise drop earrings add an element of hippie-chic.

A fashion-forward way to incorporate more accessories is to take risks with color and texture.  There are so many ways to do this, and depending on where you’re going, and what the dress code is, you can get pretty creative!  With accessories, you can truly transform an outfit – and even re-wear.  Whatever the occasion, just remember that “you’re never fully dressed” without shoes, a bag and some gems…and of course, a smile.

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