INTERLUDE: Styling Tips & Tricks #2 – Accessory Capsules

A personal style goal of mine has always been to make the most of a limited selection. By now it’s fairly obvious I’ve repeated items and visual themes in my outfits. My closet is pretty pared down, so remixing outfits is a necessity.

However, while I admire and advocate a minimalist approach to building a wardrobe, my style itself tends to be more maximal. One day I want to look like Audrey Hepburn, another day I’d rather channel Richey Edwards, and some days I aspire to combine both influences. Yet I want it all to look cohesive, to look unequivocally like myself.

One trick to this is a set of accessory capsules that go with most of my outfits, therefore becoming my signatures. My typical capsules tend to be:

Accessory Capsules #1
  • Long necklace, metal bangle, 1-3 rings depending on size
    • I wear this with plenty of silhouettes, but it works best with straighter necklines, simpler patterns, and shorter or no sleeves. This is my go-to when I don’t want to think too much about what I’m wearing, but I still want to feel pulled together.
  • Lightweight scarf, metal bangle, 1-3 rings depending on size
    • Similar to the previous capsule, but to me it makes more sense with longer sleeves and, since most of my scarves are patterned, solid-colored tops. If I’m feeling a bit louche, this is the capsule I’ll choose.
  • Hair accessory, waist belt, metal bangle, 1-3 rings depending on size
    • If I’m wearing something with a higher collar than my usual preference, I tend to go for variations of this capsule.

This isn’t to say I stick rigidly to these capsules. I pile on the metal when I want to feel like a rock star. Or, if the clothing itself is pretty eye-catching, I may alter or leave off one part of an accessory capsule. I simply find that accessory capsules are a good guideline for maintaining a collection I love and wear regularly, which expresses and enhances my style.


  • Assess what you already have. If there’s a type of accessory you own in multiples, like a collection of wooden bangles, or you have a particular accessory you already wear most days, these are excellent starts. You can build your capsules around these accessories.
  • Consider your most frequently-worn garments and your limitations. If you wear lots of button-down shirts, a scarf isn’t likely to be part of your accessory capsules, nor will a necklace if you’re fond of patterned tops with high-ish collars. I myself don’t have pierced ears, hence why earrings play no part in my capsules. Hats don’t play well with my hair either. Perhaps you have a job that exposes your hands to harsh chemicals daily. In such a case, rings and bracelets wouldn’t be practical for an everyday capsule.
  • Now pick two focal points on your body, preferably far from one another. The easiest for most people to work with, myself included, are the face and hands
  • Determine which focal point is your primary and which is your secondary. Usually, my face is primary and my hands secondary. This may vary day by day, but you want a general idea of your primary focus for the next step.
  • Balance your capsule(s) accordingly. Try a bigger, more eye-catching accessory near your primary focal point, then two or three small and simple accessories near your secondary. Or vice versa, if you feel like switching it up a little. Or one statement accessory plus a basic accessory near your primary focal point and one basic accessory near your secondary.


Accessory Capsules #2
  • Statement earrings/simple bangles/1-2 simple rings
    • Good for: Higher collars, long fitted sleeves, solid colored tops/dresses
  • Delicate necklace/statement bracelet/1-2 simple rings
    • Good for: V-necks or scoop-necks, small- to medium-scale patterns
  • Delicate earrings/statement necklace/simple bangle
    • Good for: Simple tops paired with louder bottoms
  • Hat/belt/2-3 simple rings
    • Good for: Higher collars, long sleeves
  • Hat/pile of bracelets/a simple ring
    • Good for: Tops or dresses with lots of detail

These are by no means the only possibilities. Experiment with what you have and you’re bound to come up with plenty of ideas for your own capsules.


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