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Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 16 November 2018

Fashion notes: Let your accessories do the talking

Life is too short to wear boring clothes. But these days, I’m in quite a mind to sport clothing that may be borderline lacklustre, only to dress it up with the accessories that sit in my drawers.
Fan-girl style demonstrated by Patricia Manfield. Silvia Olsen / REX Shutterstock
Fan-girl style demonstrated by Patricia Manfield. Silvia Olsen / REX Shutterstock

Life is too short to wear boring clothes. But these days, I’m in quite a mind to sport clothing that may be borderline lacklustre, only to dress it up with the accessories that sit in my drawers, barely ever seeing the light of day. Perhaps I’m inspired by the latest minimal cuts and neutral colours in stores, combined with an intense longing to give them some personal pizzazz.

Put me in a slouchy grey midi-dress and I’ll be quite happy to style it with my new eye-printed slip-ons, monochrome floral cross-body or pink rose-studded choker. Choosing my outfit add-ons first and clothing second might seem topsy-turvy to some, but I find it much easier than the reverse method of getting dressed.

From enormous bib necklaces to colour-blocked clutches or neon-shaded trainers, the women’s accessories market is currently quite eclectic, with statement pieces on offer for practically every budget. We often pass by these pieces in stores, discarding them as unwearable accessories that may look attractive but will never match with the colours and prints in our wardrobes.

Here’s an idea – buy a few plain basics to serve as bases for your new-season outfits. With a couple of rounds of experimenting with different add-ons, you’ll have a good number of looks ready to wear for autumn/winter.

If you’re willing to give this a try, there are a few key pieces you’ll need this season. In terms of colours, pastels and greys, along with blacks and whites, are perfect. While earthy hues and jewel tones are on-trend for autumn, you won’t easily get away with repeating pieces in these colours, since they stand out and are rather memorable. Salmon pinks, light lavenders, jet blacks and creamy whites, on the other hand, can look like completely new garments each time they’re styled differently. Jersey dresses, light turtlenecks, cool culottes and neutral blouses are good garments to buy for the base of your accessorising.

Now, this mode of dressing needn’t always apply to your everyday routine. Save it for days when you open your wardrobe and feel slightly sickened by the overbearing colours and patterns that hang there. When you want to embody sophistication, subtle glamour and a dash of quirky attitude, start building your looks from accessories.

There’s a lot of gaudy garishness going on in some social circles here in the Emirates – please don’t look to these women, who tend to grace the pages of certain tabloids, as style icons. Pairing an embellished little dress with a turban headwrap, oodles of jewellery, a kitschy clutch, printed scarf and studded heels is just not passable after a certain (single digit) age.

Charlotte Olympia clutches are ultra-cute and Sophia Webster heels are dramatic, but wear them together with a gold-lettered Moschino belt and dangly earrings, and the overall appearance becomes a bit much.

If you get flustered when picking out shoes, bags and jewellery, cut it down to your favourite piece – a glam pair of heels or funky new box bag, perhaps – then look for subtle, simple pieces to complement it. A matching pair of shades and dainty gold pendant may be all you need.

Like an artist, let your imagination run free when splattering additions onto your canvas of an outfit – but keep an editing eye, pulling back when needed.

hlodi@thenational.ae