08 March 2007

Let the dress be the primary accessory

I own this Tibi Kimono dress but I am always at a loss for what accessories to wear with it. Suggestions? I am going to wear it with a pair of pewter suede and satin heels for a charity dinner on Saturday evening.

Before I make any recommendations, I have to state the obvious: this is a busily-patterned dress. It's a beautiful dress - a showpiece dress - but unequivocally, a busy dress.

That being the case, accessories should be kept to a minimum. You don't want jewelery to detract from the contrasting floral patterns and you don't want a handbag or hair accessory that competes with or looks too matchy-matchy - or worse, looks like it tried to be matchy-matchy but failed - with the plum-fuchsia-black-pewter color palette.

Pewter pumps, especially suede pewter pumps, are a perfect direction to take. The roughness of the suede is a nice break from the thin, delicate satin; mixing a shiny texture with a matte one also means you won't be held accountable if the color of the shoes don't exactly match the color of the dress. The shoes will complement, not match, which is the more desirable and more sophisticated overall look.

My recommendations:

1. An opaque black tight -- the black, when it meets the pewter shoe - peeptoe or not - will look wickedly stylish. With as many patterns and colors and unique cuts going on in the dress, I wouldn't risk even a minimally patterned tight. Go opaque. I just checked the weather for Saturday night, however, and it's going to be in the mid-to-upper 50s, which for me, is 15+ degrees above my bare-leg minimum. If you're comfortable with your mid-winter skin tone and a few brisk up-your-skirt breezes, go bare. If not, go opaque. I've found HUE's opaque tights (available at Betsy Fisher) to be the heartiest, and at no more than $15, they're also an outstanding value. Mine have lasted nearly three months without a single snag, and with a very jumpy puppy in my home who hates nail trims, that's a true testament to their quality.

2. Simple, monochromatic earrings -- because the overriding color in this dress is pewter, I would not wear a gold earring. I would also avoid a silver earring, because it will give the impression you tried too hard to match your earrings to your dress. Were I you, I'd opt for a pair of black earrings like these 'Shimmering Tear' drops ($128 at anthropologie.com). The combination of the tights (assuming you wear them) with the earrings will bring to the forefront the dress's least-prominent color, and it will do so without overriding or distracting from the dress itself.

3. Hair pulled back -- the best part about this dress, in my opinion, is the kimono-style cut. I love the blousy sleeves and the contrast trim at the neckline, wrists and waist. The biggest favor you can do when showcasing this dress - and the earrings - is to pull your hair away from your face and shoulders entirely. If you have bangs, I'd suggest one of three things. If you'd be comfortable doing it, I'd love to see a pinned back and poofed-forward Gwen-esque look with a low ponytail. If not, wear them down in a tousled (i.e. not too coiffed), sideswept fashion. If you do this, you could either go with the low ponytail or a simple at-the-nape chignon. Or, if you don't want to deal with your bangs at all, wear them back with a thin headband that matches your hair color. In this situation, the headband is not a fashion accessory, it's a functional one.

5. Black clutch in a matte leather -- for the same reason I cited above with the suede shoes, you're best bet is to avoid a shiny fabric for your handbag. I recommend a black clutch like this simple one from Monsac ($91.95 at zappos.com) for the same reason I cited above with the black earrings -- it complements the dress without overpowering it and avoids any chance of looking like you tried and failed to too-closely match any of the other three colors.

6. No necklace, no bracelet, no rings you wouldn't ordinarily wear -- let your d├ęcolletage and the contrast floral trim at the neckline serve as substitutes for a necklace. Let the unique sleeves and contrast floral cuffs serve as substitutes for bracelets. And finally, I preach what I practice when it comes to rings. My yellow gold and bright blue spinel ring goes with me in whatever, to wherever. No exceptions. Therefore, I won't tell anyone not to wear a favorite, everyday ring. I will suggest, however, in this case, refraining from adding a cocktail ring. The dress doesn't need nor want any added flash.

Keep in mind, I'm a minimalist when it comes to accessories. I always have been and I likely always will be. My natural inclination is to have my clothes take center stage while everything else - even shoes and makeup, my two favorites - play minor supporting roles.

I have fiercely stylish friends who are just the opposite of me in this regard, however, and that proves that going accessory light or accessory heavy is not an issue of right or wrong, it's a personal preference. Listen to your instinct, not the pages of InStyle. If you go against your own style grain, it'll show, and the clothes and/or accessories will wear you, instead of you wearing them.

And then you'll look just like every other played out chick at Smith Point.


Brooke said...

LOVE the dress

Anonymous said...

I love the dress, and I really like your suggestions, too. Those earrings are gorgeous, though I know I couldn't pay $128 for them. And the black clutch is such a good idea. It's a piece every girl should have at her disposal.

bff in chicago said...

I love the suggestion of the black tights with the pewter shoes. That is very Mischa Barton -- when she's having a *good* day!

Didn't love the dress at first glance, but the more I looked at it, the more it grew on me. You're so right, with a dress this bold, you have to go muted and minimal with every supporting piece. I can't believe how much those earrings cost! Where does Anthropologie get off with their shoe/jewelery prices??

dc girl said...

Do we get to see a photo of the final outfit?

brown bear '02 said...

I want to see the shoes! Did she send a link for them?

Anonymous said...

I am the poor soul who needed the guidance of the lovely fashion maven who runs this show... First of all, I am so glad so many people like the dress. It took a while to grow on me as well but now it is probably one of my favorite purchases in a loooong time.

I can't find a link to the shoes but I will try to snap a pic of the final look on Saturday night! A sort of before/after, if you will :)

brown rowergirl said...

the suggestion for Gwen Stefani bangs is spot on. I hope she does it!

Jessica said...

FINALLY, another girl in this city with admits she hates Smith Point! Isn't it just the worst??

knew you as hannie said...

I will say it once again: you should be a stylist full-time. You should. Really!

Anonymous said...

Can't wait to see the final result!

stylin' in the city said...

Great advice. Really. I *am* a stylist, and I think your accessory suggestions were right on the money. Keep it up.