Accessorizing 101 by Kara Shaw from The Dressed Aesthetic

***Guest Post by Kara Shaw from The Dressed Aesthetic***

TheDressedAesthetic_FEATUREDHello Jessica’s readers! I’m Kara and I blog over at my little corner of the internet, The Dressed Aesthetic. I’m a marine biologist with equal parts love for science, vintage, and coffee and pretty much live my life in vintage dresses. Yep, even in the lab.

One of my favorite things about blogging has been the incredible community of similarly minded vintage loving gal’s I’ve met and had the chance to collaborate with. So, when Jessica asked for guest bloggers for Pinup Persuasion, I naturally jumped at the chance to work together. Is she the cutest or what?

So, as a bona-fide Professor, I was asked to take you all to school today, for a lesson on Accessorizing 101. It’s a topic I get asked about a lot, primarily from women who love the finished look but have no idea how to get there themselves. It’s definitely something to experiment with, because accessorizing can take you from just fashion to developing your own personal style. I’m here to help you navigate the waters! (yeah, sorry, I should warn you of my nerdiness and the fact that I tend to have a lot of marine-related analogies)

One of the best tools I have for mixing and matching and experimenting with different looks is our wardrobe organization app Dressed – which basically let’s you import your own clothing, shoes and accessories and mix and match to create and plan outfits. Think Cher a la Clueless (if you’re interested, you can read all about it on my blog). Being able to try on clothing form the comfort of my sofa, with a glass of wine in hand, is a major win in my book.

TheDressedAesthetic_DressedAappFor me, accessorizing a look is broken down into four categories (in the immortal words of Stacey & Clinton (// Color, Texture, Pattern, and Shine. And any outfit I have can have varying levels of these four things, but they’re almost always present to some capacity.

All right, let’s dive in!


Before I layer anything on, the key is to start with a good foundation. Whether you love dresses and skirts or denim and heels, the key is and will forever be fit. So, start with a garment that fits you well and that you feel fabulous in.

For this, I started with a base blue dress I bought from Modcloth years ago. The vibrant royal blue ticks off the color box pretty quickly, and the pleating at the bust actually already gives the dress a bit of texture (I was clearly an overachiever in School).

For me, the best kind of silhouette is a fit and flare style – the love a cinched waist and a flared skirt. Though I stray from this occasionally, we’re in a committed relationship and I’m nothing if not loyal.

TheDressedAesthetic_01 TheDressedAesthetic_02Next, I tend to add a complimentary color – I’m not a big fan of matchy-matchy, so I’ll usually choose a color on the opposite side of the color wheel. You can also play with different tones of the same color, which sit next to each other on the color wheel.

Color_Wheel (photo credit: HGTV)

In this case, I went with a gorgeous golden orange shoe. It can be intimidating to try to work out what color “goes” versus matches – but following a standard color wheel is a good place to start. The best thing you can do is play around with it and try a bunch of different things. What’s the worst that can happen? Maybe you’ll even start a new color trend…

TheDressedAesthetic_03 TheDressedAesthetic_04Texture

I always like to make sure there’s texture in my look. If you’ve ever taken an art class, you’ll know some artwork has what is called ‘relief’ – which is where parts of the piece has been raised above the background. Texture helps to give relief in an outfit, which creates depth and gives a bit of visual interest.

I already had a bit of texture in the bodice of the dress. But, I wanted to add just a bit more (I’m a ‘more is more’ kinda gal. Sensing a theme yet?). For those of you who are running headlong into autumn, this is a great opportunity to burst forth with those fun tights! For this, I went with some sheer patterned tights I bought on Modcloth:

TheDressedAesthetic_05 TheDressedAesthetic_06 TheDressedAesthetic_07They’re cute, add a bit of texture without too much, with the added bonus of a bit of extra warmth when cooler weather starts to tighten her grip.


Next up – add in a print. Whether there’s a print on my shoe or on an item of clothing, I always think prints really give an outfit and a bit more character, particularly if everything else in my outfit is a solid. This is always an opportunity to play with layers.

The tights were serving double duty as both a print and a texture (gold star for me!), but I also opted to layer a beautiful floral vintage jacket I’ve had for years – the orange flowers tied in perfectly with the orange of the shoe, and it breaks up the solid monotony of the dress. Plus, it has the most beautiful rhinestone buttons (if you’re me, there is always room for more sparkle).

TheDressedAesthetic_08 TheDressedAesthetic_09 TheDressedAesthetic_10A quick note on mixing prints – putting prints together can be an art form in and of itself. If you’re just starting to play with them, a good rule of thumb is to mix up the scale of your print. So, try a big bold floral print with some small pinstripes. Or a polka dot crop top with a scenic print skirt. It also helps to repeat colors – prints that you think would have no business going together can if they share a color story.


Next up is BLING! This is the opportunity to add a little (or a lot) of sparkle. You can usually add in splashes of sparkle with your jewelry choices.

I tend to be more minimal with jewelry – it’s very rare you’ll find me wearing earrings, a necklace, and a bracelet. I usually opt for one or two, and ensure that they compliment the rest of the look or provide a bit of contrast. For my first element of bling, I wore a necklace that belonged to my grandmother, who we lost early last year. Not only is beautifully sparkly, but the sentimental value kind of makes me shine from within (and isn’t that really the point after all?)

TheDressedAesthetic_11 TheDressedAesthetic_12I also added a bit of extra shimmer with my handbag – nothing over the top, but this stunning vintage basket bag has the most beautiful resin squares on the front, that catch the light just so, which always reminds me of a sunset. You’ll notice I kept to the golden/orange color theme, but mixed up texture, print and shine.

TheDressedAesthetic_13 TheDressedAesthetic_14The Finished Product!

From there, I get to burst forth into the day and feel fabulously accessorized. Clothing speaks so loudly to who we are – why not have it really represent our personality? For me, is the ideal work look that still keeps a bit of Kara-esque pizazz intact, which puts a bit of spring in my step as I skip off to the lab. After which, I usually dance around the garden like a fool, while my superpup Willie looks on in amusement…

TheDressedAesthetic_15(Caption: Outfit styled using Dressed for iPhone)

TheDressedAesthetic_16 TheDressedAesthetic_17 TheDressedAesthetic_18 TheDressedAesthetic_19 TheDressedAesthetic_20 Color, Texture, Pattern, & Shine – None of these are hard and fast rules, because the best way to develop your own style sometimes is to just break the rules, try new things, swim upstream. Truthfully, the most important element of any outfit is going to be your confidence – Rock the body you have, rock the style you want. Because feeling good in what you’re wearing is the best accessory there is.

Thanks again to Jessica for letting me meet you all. Feel free to check out my vintage-wearing shenanigans over at The Dressed Aesthetic. If you have any questions on accessorizing, I hope you message me!


Outfit Details:

Dress: Chocolate Martini via Modcloth

Jacket: Vintage Handbag: Beleza Vintage

Necklace: Vintage, belonged to my grandmother Tights: Achilles’ Zeal Tights, Modcloth

Wedges: Jeffrey Campbell

7 thoughts on “Accessorizing 101 by Kara Shaw from The Dressed Aesthetic

  1. Pingback: {In the Blogosphere}: Accessorizing 101 - The Dressed Aesthetic

  2. Pingback: Smart, Sassy & Stylish: Pin Up Persuasion - The Dressed Aesthetic

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