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Old And Sold Antiques Digest Article

Accessories For Women

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( Originally Published 1963 )



Let me begin by admitting that till recently I was most conservative when it came to accessories. I had very fixed ideas of colors and what could go with what. I've changed. Only last year I discovered that gray and brown could be worn together. That, in fact they looked wonderful together, whether I wore a gray dress or suit with brown accessories (a leather or alligator bag, gloves or shoes), or a brown suit with gray accessories. I can't even claim originality. I have electric blue suede shoes with a black heel and I wear them with a black crepe dress. I bought red and black shoes to wear with another all-black dress. I've begun to really experiment with accessories and colors and it's exciting. How many possible combinations have you never tried?

Very definitely, when it comes to clothing, its not what you wear but the way you wear it, and, most important, what you wear it with. I recognized this fact rather young and when I first went into the business world I used to spend almost nothing on my dresses. I saved my money so that I could buy expensive shoes, belts, bags, and I always bought my jewelry with an eye for what would look real. My theory then, and now, for anyone with limited spending ability is that a simple dress or suit with moderately good fabric and cut will take on the elegance of the accessories you use with it. And today with the tremendous choice of smart inexpensive basic clothing available this is even more true. Except that expensive-looking accessories also cost less than they used to and seem to me to be more interesting and beautiful than they were.

Good accessorizing should make a woman look all-of-a-piece but not as if she had been mechanically matched, or hatched, in a factory. Certainly that coordinated look is the result of planning-but never let it look as if you spend day and night figuring it out.

We've become much more imaginative in the way we dress these last ten years or so. We are a bit more frivolous, we have more fun with our clothing. We can poke fun at ourselves and still be fashionable. I'm thinking of some of these huge pocketbooks made out of fine leathers or straw or fabric-or the pettipoint or rug carpetbag which so many chic women carry now. Years ago anyone wearing colored stockings would have been regarded as eccentric, and light-colored shoes were considered bad taste by most "well-groomed women in society."

Just think of the daring dazzling colors on fashion's recent palette. Intense pink, vibrant green, yellow, coral, peacock blue, the perennial black and white, beautiful bright bold prints dominate the scene. Huge tent-like coats in poppy-orange, spring green, watermelon pink, sun-yellow with blindingly bright yellow, purple, orange, red accessories abound.

But fashion experts, courageous though they may be with color or style, are always aware of a few simple rules about accessories that have to do with good taste and apply to all good art. For example:1. Understatement-the more color or style the outfit has, the fewer and more carefully selected the accessories.

2. With very bright solid colors, other solids are best.

3. Use the simplest accessories with highly dramatic clothing.

4. Solid clothes can take no more than one printed accessory; no more than one piece of dynamic jewelry.

5. With a print dress, suit or coat, use solid-colored accessories. These few simple but very important ideas about accessorizing are about as far as I can go to giving you any formal or specific guidelines to follow. I can't make rules for you. I can't tell you just what you should wear with what and I don't think anyone else can either, without knowing the exact proportions and shadings of your face and figure. Those are subtleties that can make a world of difference, and if I point out obvious things like redheads look terrifFlc in pink or that white is striking on a brunette with a deep tan, I don't think that will be very much real help to you. There is no substitute for your own developed sensitivity to what you look good in. It took me years to learn that I look good in vivid colors-especially purple, plum, coral, orange, blue, green, some reds-and not so good in pale pink, blue, tan, yellows. No book in the world could have done the job for me. I think those rules that try to tell you exactly "what you should wear with what" box a woman in and limit her chance to be individual. And, remember, I want you to be and to look individual.

But what I can and will do is suggest some of the many possibilities there are to accessorize your clothing. And I think such suggestions are an important starting point because they can help eliminate the rigid ways of thinking we all have. So, without further ado, lets look at what can be accessorized and how.


This does not mean you must or even should accessorize all of the areas I've indicated with arrows. As a general rule, the fewer areas you accessorize the smarter you'll look. But make the most of the accessories you do wear.


The ideal neck is a long willowy graceful one atop which the female head serene and well-coiffed coolly surveys her domainnamely, the male. Although great beauties have and will continue to appear who do not have this special attribute, almost everyone finds a long stem of a neck (supporting one hopes a flower of a bead) to be a symbol of beauty. This is why almost all rules pertaining to necklines and their accessories are aimed at creating the illusion of length.

To the lucky swanlike few these rules are, naturally, extraneous. They can wear any neckline they please, as many strands of beads they choose and high stand-up collars will only accentuate that lovely proud stalk. Should you, however, consider your neck too long, you can make your neck seem shorter by: avoiding V necklines, deep decollet6s or scoops, long dangly earrings, a front line of buttons, high crowned hats or pompadour hairdos. Choose high round necks, stand up collars, fill-in scarfs, turtlenecks, many-strand chokers; wear your hair about half way down your neck.


The normal neck is about 5-6 inches from earlobe to collarbone, but of course it is the proportion of your neck to your head and to the rest of your body that determines whether or not it is long, short or normal and only the mirror can tell you that.

For normal necked women who would like to create the illusion of a longer neck (and that includes most and me), these rules apply: wear V-necks, gracefully shaped decollet6s that are deeper than wide, high round collars that are very flat and simple, high off-the-neck hairdos, high hat-crowns.


The short-necked woman has a problem, particularly so if her neck tends toward heaviness. Exercises were given in Chapter 3 Section I to help her get rid of double chin and flab. But in necklines and neck accessories observe the following don'ts: No high necklines, turtlenecks, bulk at neck, multistrand chokers, hair below the middle of your neckline (its best worn behind your ears to accentuate head and neck separation). Do keep your necklines long and low; wear beads that form longish ovals; show what neck you have, try picture neck blouses with high standup backs and plunging open fronts.

Flattering to almost all necks: boatnecks, open shirtwaist tops, scoop necklines that begin below the collarbone, drop necklaces or matinee length (fall about the middle of your bust) necklaces.

Now, how shall we accessorize the neckline of the basic dress? The two principal ways of accessorizing a neckline-any neckline-is with jewelry or with scarves.