Legs for days? Reach for carry-all styles like this hobo by Hinge, $168 at Nordstrom.com
If my four years styling women has taught me anything, it is this: women of all sizes, ages and shapes struggle with many of the exact same wardrobe conundrums. From finding the perfect jeans to wondering whether one really can wear brown shoes with a grey suit (yes! try it!), their fashion emergencies have hatched my solutions, which I call Style 911.
My first edition of Style 911 is accessorizing to scale. Many clients ask me – is it true that our accessories should correspond to our height and size?
In a word, yes. And being vertically challenged (okay, at 4’11″ I’m just plan short!) myself, I can empathize. Huge, hold-everything-but-the-kitchen-sink handbags are everywhere, and its tough striking a balance between “fashionably large” and “swallow you whole.”
A few tips on handbags and size:
(kind of like a little girl wearing her mom’s heels). When shopping for handbags online, try styles that are categorized as small or medium instead of large.
Satchel style handbags, which are meant to be carried on the arm instead of the shoulder, are very safe bets for petites, size-wise–and also happen to be plentiful this season. If, like me, you prefer shoulder carries, try a crescent-shaped hobo or narrow tote (one that would hold a magazine vertically) rather than a huge bucket or shopper style handbag. If you’re in store, take off your coat and try on the bag in front of the mirror. If you think it may be dwarfing you, it probably is.
Of course, the reverse is also true. If you are very tall, plus sized or just generally curvy, tiny bags get lost on you. If you’ve got a tiny monogrammed designer handbag under your arm, it may look expensive, but it’s also advertising your voluptuousness and/or making you look taller-than-life. Unlike their petite friends, tall and curvy girls run the risk of dwarfing a bag.
When handbag hunting, look for styles that are categorized as large or oversized instead of small or medium. Tall girls can get away with the new slouchy cross-body styles that hang past the hip. Curvy girls look great carrying wide shoppers and totes with all the bells and whistles–outside pockets, decorative hardware, etc. I’m not advocating the gaudy, but don’t be afraid to be bold!
Beware the choker – how to wear jewelry, belts and scarves:
- Cuff bracelets and chunky watches abbreviate the length of your arm. Especially important to remember when pairing with three-quarter length sleeves…beware of visually eliminating your entire arm!
- Dainty earrings should be left to those with dainty ears and earlobes. See the “dwarfing effect” above.
- Be mindful of belt widths: petites and short-waisted girls should stick to under 3 inches; tall and curvy girls look best in over 3 inches.
- If you have a short neck, chokers and scarves tied ’round the neck serve only to highlight that fact.
- On second thought, chokers are flattering on no one.
The above guidelines aside, I always encourage my clients to have fun with their accessories. Don’t take the “rules” too seriously…after all, it’s just fashion!
This post originally appeared in my blog, Notes on Style, for Today’s Chicago Woman magazine.