Accessorize after the fact // Style & Error

Step up your wardrobe with a few special touches

By Terry Chan

On Tuesday December 9th, 2008

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Birks Pebble Collection bracelet, $725

Between summering, articling, and junior associate-ship, you’ve had plenty of opportunity to master the shirt/suit combo. Just this fall, in fact, you went out on a limb and bought that patterned collared shirt in a less-than-neutral colour. You’ve figured out how to look appropriate at work (at least most of the time) and you’ve even found a comfy, transit-friendly alternative to heels. Now all that remains is some successful accessorizing to pull your look together.

Take heed, however: accessorizing means making a few extra decisions in the morning, and thereby increasing your risk of making a wrong decision. They say that fashion favours the bold, but no matter the season, these basic ground rules apply:

  • Don’t wear more than five accessories at a time, with earrings counting as two pieces.
  • With respect to jewellery, if it was hanging on a plastic backing when you bought it, it is not appropriate for work.

For winter, the following tips will elevate your style quotient from safely blending in to tastefully standing out.

The Shawl: Inspired by the pashmina craze of the late ’90s, the shawl is making a comeback. Let’s pretend you knew it was ever even out of style. Perfect for layering on those chilly office days (and hopefully not too many nights), a patterned shawl can add a little personality to your look.

Patterned Hosiery: Patterned hosiery is all the rage, but only patterns in almost opaque tights are acceptable for work. It’s almost cringe-worthy when you see sheer and patterned at the office. And, as if you even had to ask, fishnets are really out of the question.

Fancy Flats: Not just your average ballerina slippers, designers these days are adorning flat styles with all sorts of fancy details. This is good news for those of us who have spent many days cursing those trips to the printer in our high heels. Yes, it means altering at least one pair of your work pants to wear with flats, but it’s worth it.

Gold vs. Silver: Who says you have to choose? Two-tone accessories are everywhere these days, probably because they go with everything. Tip: hunt for jewellery finds in vintage shops. With the additional benefits of being easier on the wallet, eco-friendly, and unique, you will find that many current jewellery styles are based on recycled trends anyway.

Where to buy:

The Shawl
Check out Anthropologie for a good variety of patterned shawls.
anthropologie.com, 6 – 15 day delivery

Patterned Hosiery
Bare Necessities carries all the latest trends in tights.
barenecessities.com, 7 – 14 day delivery

Fancy Flats
Metallic, satin, exotic skins, jewelled, and tweed — have your pick at J. Crew.
jcrew.com, 4 – 7 day delivery

Gold vs. Silver
Birks’ Pebble Collection mixes sterling silver and 18-karat yellow gold in several two-tone designs . birks.com, 3 – 4 day delivery


Terry Chan is a Canadian lawyer practising finance law in London. She can be reached at [email protected]