Dressing and accessorising with style is one of those things that some people seem to have an innate knack for, but the rest of us can learn the rules and how to apply them. The glamorous Coco Chanel had a few key rules for dressing and elegance, some of which may be slightly dated now, such as the advice "the best accessory for a woman is a handsome man". The rest, however, stand the test of time.
Coco Chanel was one of the first influencers – she was doing it before the term "influencer" had even been coined. Her sense of style and outlook on life have informed generations of women, and she always dressed well, never swaying too far to the modish, changeable styles of haute couture but retaining her personal aesthetic throughout her life. Her most famous rule for accessorising was:
"When putting on accessories, take off the last thing you've put on."
This is excellent advice, the message being that "less is more". When dressing for a special occasion it is tempting to wear as much finery as you own, especially if you don't often get a chance to wear your prettiest jewellery, but this can lead to over-accessorising which isn't a particularly elegant look. If you wear lots of jewellery and have a handbag and shawl/outer layer there's a danger that your special pieces won't actually stand out among the noise, so by removing one item you can tone down your look for maximum effect.
Necklines are important to consider when choosing a necklace to wear. Boat necks or off the shoulder styles with a straight edge across the collarbones don't lend themselves to wearing necklaces as the chain cuts across this crisp feature, but a choker style can help enhance the lines. A low, plunging neckline should be paired with a necklace of modest length – anything too long and the attention is drawn away from the face. A low neckline can be a good opportunity to wear more than one necklace, as with an expanse of skin to fill you can afford to showcase two complementary pieces at the same time, really making a feature out of your dress and accessories. Pair this look with minimal make up and a sleek hairstyle for maximum impact.
Your choice of hairstyle can make a huge difference to the style of earrings that work well. The effect of dangly earrings can be lost if you wear your hair down at the same time, not to mention the risk of getting your hair caught up in them. If you're wearing long hair down it's better to go for studs, hoops or simple earrings which don't dangle much. These styles will flatter you with your hair down, while chandelier style ones will look too busy. Wearing your hair up accentuates your neck, which is the perfect opportunity to wear some dangly showstoppers when they can be seen in all their glory.
If you love wearing bracelets and bangles you'll need to think about your outfit and whether it has sleeves. If you're wearing long sleeves that will hide your jewellery you might be better off waiting for another occasion to show off your bracelets. On the other hand, if you have a favourite bangle or one which really makes a statement you can wear it over your sleeve to show it off. This is quite a bold look and won't suit everyone, but it's worth remembering if you want to make an impression or just try something different.
There's a similar trend which comes and goes for wearing rings over gloves. The gloved hand look tends to be reserved for high end, black or white tie events, but street style mavens often incorporate this look into their ensembles, and it has had resurgence in the fashion world lately. The idea is to wear really bold, bright rings, like our cocktail rings, over gloves to really show them off, and you could even wear some chunky bangles as well to make a dramatic impact. Coco Chanel probably wouldn't have approved of wearing lots of chunky rings over gloves, but then again some rules are made to be broken.