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.

Belts

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

Accessories101Belts

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.

Shoes

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

Accessories101Shoes

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.

Scarves

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

Accessories101Scarves

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

Jewelry

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

Accessories101Jewelry

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.

Bags

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

Accessories101Bags

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

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

Accessories101FlipFlopsBefore

Accessories101FilpFlopsAfter

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

Accessories101LongchampBefore

Accessories101LongchampAfter

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, Shoes.com.

Plain to Pretty

Accessories101PlainBefore

Accessories101PlainAfter

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!