Doing one’s best to avoid the Pat Butcher look.

Dear Helen, I have lots of beautiful necklaces but I feel silly when I wear them. Why do I feel like this and where am I going wrong?

This week, I’m playing Agony Aunt again. Here’s my advice for anyone struggling to wear necklaces….

Like Marmite, when it comes to jewellery most women are firmly in the ‘love it’ or ‘hate it’ camp.

If you aren’t used to wearing earrings or necklaces every day, or your style is very ‘natural’ (see here for more information about the different clothing ‘style’ groups) you might feel a bit uncomfortable or self-conscious when you finally attempt to give your jewellery box residents an outing. The extra weight, noise and fiddliness of bangles and baubles is off-putting to lots of women, especially those who do a lot of walking, or practical activities such as gardening, cooking or sewing.

The truth is though, good jewellery can totally make or break an outfit. The plainest, most neutral dress can be ramped up to INCREDIBLE when accompanied by the right necklace or earrings. In the same way, a lovely outfit can quickly become a visual headache by the addition of a ‘statement necklace’ that shouldn’t be there.

If you are prone to overdoing it with the shiny stuff, try using the standard trick of putting everything you want to wear on, and then taking one piece off. This usually helps to ‘simmer down’ an overdone look. One other thing to remember here though, is that brightly painted lips add to the busyness of your ensemble, so if you are ‘wearing’ a vivid lipstick, treat that as you would an additional piece of jewellery. Glasses are another added distraction so go easy on wearing lots of jewellery near your face if you are a spectacle wearer.

For each of my clients I create a set of bespoke guidelines for dressing. Every one includes recommendations about which clothes really flatter the individual’s body shape and colouring. I usually call these clothes the ones that ‘love you back’. The same is true for jewellery – there is something to suit everyone. When I make recommendations to my clients about which type of jewellery to look for I also give them the following five pieces of advice:

  1. Every woman’s body has a specific scale: small, medium or large. One part of a client project involves establishing what their scale is. This is not to do with how heavy you are, it’s actually based on a combination of height, dress size, bone structure and clothing ‘style’. (Yes, I use an algorithm, be VERY scared Stephen Hawking.)
  2. If your clothing style is fairly ‘classic’ or ‘natural’, you’ll suit smaller pieces of jewellery. Whereas ‘dramatic’ style women can wear much bigger – statement – type pieces. If you don’t already know your scale from working with me, the best thing you can do is experiment with different sizes and get a feel of what looks right on your body.
  3. The design of the neckline of your top or dress will also affect which kind of necklace you should pair it with. If you are wearing clothes with fussy or unusual necklines it’s best to avoid adding a necklace. Let the neckline of the dress or top take centre stage, it’ll only compete with a necklace layered on the top, making you look fussy and overdressed. Opt for big earrings or a bright lip colour instead.
  4. If your outfit has a plain neckline, then it’s open season for necklaces. But, the shape of the neckline will determine the type of necklace you should go for. An open neckline – i.e. showing your ‘décolletage’ – in a curved, V or square shape works well with either a mid-length necklace that sits in the gap or a longline piece that goes down over your top.
  5. If you want to wear a pendant with your outfit, be aware that the eye of the beholder will be drawn to wherever the pendant sits on your body. If that happens to be between your boobs, that’s where the attention of everyone you meet will be drawn. If you are happy with this kind of attention, go for it! If you prefer not to attract every passing person to gawp down your cleavage, it’s best avoided.

If you have already had guidance from me or another image consultant on dressing for your specific body shape, you’ll be up to speed with the types of neckline that are ideal for your body. But, did you know that you can change the effect that neckline has on your outfit by using a necklace to change the shape? If you suit V necks and you want to wear a round or curved neckline, add a geometric shaped piece of jewellery to straighten things up and vice versa. A curved piece of jewellery in the space of a v neck will quickly make it less severe for those who suit curves.

If all this is making you even more confused and you’d prefer a basic primer in dressing for your body shape, you could do worse than sign up for my free email series: 5 EASY STYLE TIPS TO LOOK YOUR MOST FABULOUS SELF. Click on the link to get access.

5 EASY STYLE TIPS TO LOOK YOUR MOST FABULOUS SELF

This mini-course is made up of a series of daily emails that will arrive automatically in your inbox one by one. Each day I cover one of the steps you can take to self-analyse your body shape and colouring. Working through these emails will help you to find the clothes that ‘love you back’ and enable you to develop the sort of confidence about the way you look that comes from looking your best every day.

Now it’s your turn – which piece of jewellery do you struggle to wear? Answers in the comments please ladies….

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