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Accessorizing Basics: Turning an Outfit into a Look


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Have you ever seen a girl in a really cute outfit and thought she looked great, but that something was missing? Maybe you’ve stood in front of the mirror in your dorm or apartment in a great dress and a pair of boots and still felt blah? We’ve all been there–the basics of an outfit look totally stylish, but there’s a certain something that’s off.

In cases like these, there’s an often-overlooked wardrobe essential that can make all the difference: accessories! We’re talking shoes, bags, and jewelry, all of the key players! And the best part? These additions are super easy to grab or put on and still make a huge impact on your style.

Below, I’ve listed the 5 types of accessories that every girl should own, plus tips on how to use them to make any outfit runway-worthy! Interested? Read on.


A few great, well-fitting belts in varying widths are definite wardrobe staples. Here are three different styles you might want to consider, plus tips on how to wear them:

  • Skinny belts in bright colors or shimmery metallics look super cute over a romper or fitted dress.
  • Medium-width belts that feature interesting details like braiding or a fun buckle are perfect with jeans and a tucked-in shirt, to create a tailored, more formal look.
  • Large, wide belts are ideal for cinching and defining your waist and look lovely over anything voluminous or oversized.

Belts – Hot Picks


Product Information: Skinny Contrast Studded Belt, Gap. Leopard Skinny Belt, Ann Taylor. Military Braid Waist Belt, Monsoon Accessorize. Gold Leaf Belt, Mod Cloth. Hook Punch Out Belt, House of Fraser.


For those of you who are shoe-obsessed, this staple probably seems painfully obvious! If you’re not a shoe lover, however, making an investment in a fun pair of flats, classic heels, sexy sandals, and/or chic boots will really update (and finish off!) your look.

Wearing cute shoes instead of ugly-but-functional ones is much like wearing jeans instead of sweatpants: minimal effort, big style payoff! Just think of how much more fashionable an outfit would look with leather riding boots instead of Uggs!

Shoes – Hot Picks


Product Information: Sam Edelman Gigi Sandals, Lori’s Shoes. Trouser Oxfords, Steve Madden. Let’s Take A Ride Knee High Boots, Ruche. Steve Madden Midnight Blue Pumps, Amazon. Gabriella Rocha Neve Ankle Strap Ballet Flats, Amazon.


Every fashionable girl knows that scarves aren’t just for winter anymore! This staple is great for adding an unexpected burst of color, or introducing a different texture to your outfit. Experiment with patterns, draping, and styling to create a look that’s unique and put-together.

Scarves – Hot Picks


Product Information: Miso Lace Fringe Scarf, Republic. Splendid Vintage Whisper Infinity Scarf, Twigs. Hue Are You? Scarf, ModCloth. Cream Floral Lace Scarf, Dorothy Perkins.


Even a single piece of jewelry can polish up a basic outfit. If you’re looking to experiment with this staple, you can find fun, inexpensive jewelry at stores such as Forever 21 and H&M. Look for pieces with intricate bead work, a pop of color, sparkly crystals, or interesting shapes to add eye-catching detail to otherwise ordinary outfits. “Signature” pieces of jewelry, like an initial necklace or statement ring, are perfect for daily wear.

Jewelry – Hot Picks


Product Information: House of Harlow 1960 Triangle Cocktail Ring, Kitson. Cameo Pearl Chain Necklace, Dorothy Perkins. Peacock Feather Earrings, ModCloth. Plum Oval Cocktail Ring, Miss Selfridge. Fossil Boyfriend Twist Watch, The Buckle.


I’ll be the first to admit it: When I’m on campus, the only bag in my life is a backpack! When I have to carry around textbooks, notebooks, and my laptop, I don’t mess around. Come weekends, however, I’m all about toting my stuff in style!

Whether you pick a purse that’s oversized, crosses your body, or falls somewhere in between, there are a ton of options out there that are both pretty and practical. WIth so many choices, it’s easy to find something that complements (and adds to!) whatever you’re wearing.

Hot Picks


Product Information: Polka Dot Canvas Shopper/Backpack, Asos. Hype Naomi Oversized Clutch, Endless. Ecru Oversized Tassel Bag, Miss Selfridge.  NILA Gold Studded Hobo,

Outfit Inspiration

To help you guys get accessorizing down to a science, below, I created outfits that showcase just how much a simple tweak or substitution in the accessories department can transform a simple outfit!

So, next time you’re thinking of grabbing your favorite everyday-college-girl basics (like flip flops and your trusty Longchamp tote bag!) on the way to class, remember these looks and consider your options! It doesn’t take much of a change to take your style from campus to catwalk.

Flip Flops to Fabulous



Product Information: Blank Denim Cargo Skinny Zip Ankle Pants, Metropark. Necessary Objects Boyfriend Blazer, Fred Flare. Printed Flip-Flops, Old Navy. Cutout Stud Flats, Rue21. I Love You Pendant Necklace, Monsoon. James Perse Ribbed Jersey Tank, Net-a-Porter.

Longchamp to Lovely



Product Information: Statement Ethnic Earrings, Asos. Brushed Metallic Domed Ring, Asos. Aerie Ruffle Chiffon Dress, American Eagle. Longchamp Le Pilage Large Tote Bag, Nordstrom. Nabi Large PU Satchel, House of Fraser. Volatile Jockey Boots,

Plain to Pretty



Product Information: The AF Jegging, Abercrombie & Fitch. Double-Finger Bonjour Ring, Asos. Deepstyle Leather Sandals, Yes Style. Purple Foldover Stud Clutch, Dorothy Perkins. Mason Abstract Geo Top, I Don’t Like Mondays. BCBGMAZAZRIA Royale Watch, Endless.

More Accessorizing Tips

For even more tips on rocking accessories with all your favorite basics, see our post, The Secret to Making Any Outfit Amazing. (Hint: accessories are the secret!)

What do you think?

What are your go-to accessories for completing any look? Do you accessorize on campus or prefer to keep it simple? Whatever your thoughts, make sure to share with a comment!

Posted on on September 9, 2010 / Filed Under: Fashion Tips / Tags: , , , , , , ,

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28 Responses to “Accessorizing Basics: Turning an Outfit into a Look”

  1. 1
    September 9th, 2010 at 1:39 pm

    LOVE this post! :] I definetly agree with you on everything, especially with the scarves and the belts! They are the perfect little “cherry-on-tops” for any outfit! :]

  2. 2
    September 9th, 2010 at 1:43 pm

    I totally agree! Accessories really do make the look! I always have to be wearing at least one piece of jewelry with my outfits or else I just feel naked!

  3. 3
    September 9th, 2010 at 1:45 pm

    I found this post really helpful! I think the accessories really make an outfit. I would love to see a post on 10 essential accessories to own, or something along those lines. I know styles have different accessories that are associated with them (preppy, hipster, retro), and I think seeing some cute essentials for those styles and more would be helpful!

  4. 4
    September 9th, 2010 at 1:59 pm

    Typically I wear the same two rings everyday, a chunky bangle of some sort (I switch it up depending on the outfit) and I have a few long chain necklaces I choose from on a daily basis. Same idea, different outcomes, it works with anything!

  5. 5
    September 9th, 2010 at 2:12 pm

    I love the last look! Great post!

  6. 6
    September 9th, 2010 at 3:03 pm

    Nice post. You gave some good suggestions. I really like the before and after outfits.

  7. 7
    September 9th, 2010 at 3:27 pm

    Rin, I second that! I meant to add that in my earlier post. I really like how you showed the before and after; it helps show how big of an impact accessories make!

  8. 8
    September 9th, 2010 at 4:01 pm

    I love this post :D I think I need to buy more accessories! especially belt! I’m so lazy to change the belt often >_> and I just realised that I have only 3 belts I use and they seemed so similiar!lol it’s shame… anyway thanks, it would be helpful~!

  9. 9
    September 9th, 2010 at 4:24 pm

    fantastic post!!
    i am a nightmare with shoes- they have to completely work with my outfit!! i struggled to choose the shoes which would come on my year abroad with me- i have about 60 pairs!! shoes can really make an outfit.
    i’m really boring with jewellery, but i love the effect a belt or a scarf can have on an outfit.
    this is really inspiring- thank you!!

    charlotte xxx

  10. 10
    September 9th, 2010 at 4:35 pm

    These are fantastic! I’m impressed.
    Can you do a post on Fall Boots? I need a pair of classic, no frills boots, but have no idea where to start. An investment section, and a save section might be helpful. Oh, and some outfits of course.

  11. 11
    September 9th, 2010 at 4:45 pm

    this is exactly the type of post i needed. even though the concept of just adding accessories is simple, it made it so much easier to actually see the before & afters.

    you should try to do some kind of regular post with this sort of theme

  12. 12
    September 9th, 2010 at 5:12 pm

    I agree with Julia! I guess most CF readers already know that those are the details that matters and make the outfit work. But it’s one of this statements, which are there, but nobody really digs into it’s meaning. I know it too and still, I often find myself at a mirror knowing something’s wrong and not being able to decide which part of the outfit I should change. I love the flip flops and longchamp makeover.

  13. 13
    September 9th, 2010 at 5:54 pm

    Great ideas! I wear jewelry every day and I have a couple belts that get a lot of use too. Scarves, not so much. I’m in love with the purses you picked but like you, I end up using a backpack five days a week anyway! Also, I like Lalalina’s suggestion- some kind of “essential accessories” post could be fun.

  14. 14
    September 9th, 2010 at 6:09 pm

    Great post! But I have a deep love for hats, and they’re definitely underrepresented here!

  15. 15
    September 9th, 2010 at 6:13 pm

    love this post
    n i really love the chiffon dress

  16. 16
    September 9th, 2010 at 7:33 pm

    im in LOVE w/ that aerie dress…

  17. 17
    September 9th, 2010 at 10:31 pm

    I COMPLETELY CONCUR WITH THIS ENTIRE POST! I probably own ten million scarves, a thousand rings, and a sea of necklaces! SO super easy to make a plain old t-shirt and jeans ensemble look interesting and cute! =]

  18. 18
    September 12th, 2010 at 12:47 am

    Love this post! I couldn’t agree more with everything you have to say here – the key to every great outfit of mine has been belts and drapey, colourful scarves.

    Two other great accessories that add a lot to an outfit is socks and hair adornments (cute clips and headbands).

  19. 19
    September 13th, 2010 at 3:33 am

    Awesoem post!!!definitely need more of printing them for daily inspiration =)

  20. 20
    March 1st, 2011 at 1:34 am

    This post is really helpful.Accessories give a unique look to our personality.I love to wear scarf whole year.I have a great collection of scarves.

  21. 21
    March 17th, 2012 at 3:41 am

    this was so helpful

  22. 22
    September 29th, 2012 at 1:13 am

    That is very attention-grabbing, You’re an excessively skilled blogger. I have joined your feed and look ahead to in the hunt for extra of your great post. Additionally, I have shared your site in my social networks

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