Accessorizing Basics: Turning an Outfit Into a Look

Make any outfit runway-worthy with these bougie accessories.

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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.

In particular, today I want to talk about pairing basic, casual outfits with bougie accessories.

When I say bougie accessories, I don’t necessarily mean expensive. The main distinction between casual and bougie is style, not price. For a bougie style, look for elaborate or fancy designs. Mainly, you want to stray from weathered or overly simple pieces.

Accessorizing Outfits 101

Below, I’ve listed the 9 types of accessories that can dress up any basic outfit, plus tips on how to use accessorize to make any outfit runway-worthy! Interested in learning about accessorizing? Read on.

1. Watches

In the age of smartphones, rocking a wristwatch has become increasingly uncommon. However, traditional watches are sophisticated accessories that can make your outfit look like a million bucks.

A watch will turn a basic shirt and jeans look into a much more professional and put-together ensemble.

The color of the face of the watch and the design of the strap/links will determine the tier of style. Stray from plastic straps to achieve the right mixture between casual and bougie.

{RELATED POST: Fashion Accessories List: The 5 Items You Need in Your Wardrobe}

2. Belts

A belt is your casual outfit savior. It will tie together your look like nothing else.

Choosing the right belt for your look is all about playing with different styles to see what you like best. However, for the best bougie x casual look, we suggest going for the elaborate buckles, unique colors, and thicker straps.

Although belts will level up your outfit on their own, this is a great accessory to pair with your shoes to create synchronicity.

3. Shoes

Your shoes might be singlehandedly the most important accessory to pay attention to when making a casual outfit a little more extra.

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.

A pair of heels with any kind of clothing can instantly make any ‘fit going-out ready. This is also a time-saver if you are going from a casual environment to a more formal one. You just need an extra pair of shoes and *boom*, whole new vibe.

It may seem as though certain pieces would not look good with heels or fancier boots, but play around and you might be surprised — they can be styled with anything! Even the oversized t-shirt you use for pajamas can turn into a glamorous ensemble with a belt and knee-high boots or a pair of pumps.

4. Jewelry

A necklace and earrings worn together can elevate any outfit to a whole other level. Even worn individually, they can have such a big impact on the vibe of your outfit.

Matching sets are super cute, but mixing and matching when accessorizing will achieve the same effect.

Jewelry adds glamour to any look. Look for the pieces that add a little sparkle and shine for that bougie look, and for more picks, be sure to see our guide to timeless jewelry every woman should own.

5. Tights

This accessory can sometimes be overlooked when it comes to bougie, but it can make such a big difference in an outfit. (In particular, colored tights are a fun trend to experiment with!)

Tights won’t make a huge dent in your budget and will make your skirt or dress stand out even more. Plus, tights are the cure to looking cute in the winter and staying warm.

6. Hats

No matter the season, there’s a hat that will make your simple outfit stand out. Hats are musts for accessorizing.

A giant floppy hat will definitely do the trick in the summer. However, the winter season calls for berets, fedoras, and cloche hats. You can even make a winter beanie bougie with some glitter or a giant pom-pom on top.

7. Sunglasses

The right pair of sunglasses will do wonders for your outfit.

Despite being associated with summer, sunglasses are a year-round accessory that can give off a bougie vibe immediately.

Go for the more elaborate or unique sunglasses to achieve that expensive look (without the expensive prices).

8. 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!

A purse is often the last accessory you grab before heading out, but it is one that can make the whole look come together. It is effortlessly bougie and will complete any outfit.

As there are a variety of purses out there, look for one that fulfills your practical needs but has a hint of glamour to it. Pay attention to the strap and clasp of the purse to find the bougie bag for you.

With so many choices, it’s easy to find something that complements (and adds to!) whatever you’re wearing.

Bonus: Coats

Okay, so coats are not accessories per se — but they totally count for the way they’re able to transform any basic look.

With the temperatures dropping, outerwear and layers are making their way to the front of our closets.

Although you take your coat on and off, it is still an important part of your winter attire. A big furry jacket or a minimalist trench coat will make for bold additions to any casual outfit.

For a bougie coat, go big. Try to avoid the simple black puffer coat and try something different.

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!

Editor’s note: This post was originally published in 2010; it was completely updated and revamped in 2020 with new photos and information.

20 thoughts on “Accessorizing Basics: Turning an Outfit Into a Look”

  1. 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. 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!

  3. 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

  4. 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!


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