When I created this outfit several days ago using the duster I’d purchased nine months earlier, I thought I had met my fashion challenge when I figured out the right pieces to wear with the duster.
The biggest “wow” about this outfit so far was the fact that I’d broken my Cardinal Shopping Rule of not making a purchase unless I could answer yes to the question Can I wear it tomorrow? That answer the day I bought it would have been truthfully, no. I had no idea how to wear it!
I didn’t know it would take months, but it did.
I was busy patting myself on the back when I realized the outfit wasn’t ready yet. I needed shoes, a bag, and accessories.
The shoes and bag were pretty easy. I’d wear variations on taupe to keep it looking soft and natural. I wanted really clean lines that wouldn’t take attention away from the duster.
Missy, a Beauty Bundle would be great right about now!
The jewelry was all that was left. The hard part was done.
(Those lessons learned can be read in the Part One version of the Anatomy of this Outfit.)
I had the mood of the outfit: dreamy, floaty, serene, and graceful.
I figured I’d just slip on a necklace and it would be complete.
I tried one thing and then another and then another and another. It took me a bit of time (thankfully, not nine months) to figure it out but in the end I’d created a new Beauty Bundle. Woo hoo!
What I tell my clients about styling
Before I give you a slide show of how I came to the decisions I did, let me tell you this first: You may love one of the combos I rejected. And that’s cool.
When I’m working with clients, styling outfits in their closets, coming up with “just right” combos, I nearly always say, “This is how I see it today. I may work it a completely different way three months from now.” Because it happens. With the evolution of time and style, another idea may top my last best idea.
My task in the moment is to find what pleases TODAY.
Here’s what I tried before I got the look I love.
First try: Beaded necklaces from my friends, the Sol Sisters
I love these necklaces and wear them a lot. Perhaps one day I’ll choose one of these one-of-a-kind beaded necklaces for this outfit but they felt too attention getting against the sheer fabrics and floaty duster. For this outfit’s premiere, I wanted all of the attention on the beauty and grace of the duster.
Second try: Mixing chains
I liked the different shades of gray in the chains on the left, below. When I added the one with multiple colored beads and gold fringe (on the right) it didn’t seem smart enough. Both chain combos seemed boring and weren’t adding anything to the outfit.
Third try: Adding a pendant
Maybe the outfit needs a pendant, I thought. The lava pendant on the left, below, had an organic feel to it but it seemed too high. I added the chains to see if they’d add balance but I wasn’t satisfied.
Then I introduced the cross. This was a big step as I’d never felt comfortable wearing a cross but I loved it.
Since confessing my wanna be Catholic fantasies in a post last month, I was looking at my rustic cross and thinking maybe I could wear it after all these decades.
It wasn’t a store bought piece. It was something I acquired from a different chapter in my life when my ex-husband-antique-dealer came across it.
It seems like folk art to me: imperfect, uneven edges, handcrafted. It captivates me.
I tried it out (on the right, below). Again, I didn’t like it alone so I added the chains.
I didn’t like the distance between the cross and the chains. It was disjointed and unsettling. I had to try something else!
(Side note: Do visit the Museum of International Folk Art in Santa Fe if you ever get a chance.)
Fourth try: The winner!
I decided that having necklaces end where the shawl collar ended was the goal. Why not gather all of the attention to the grace of the shawl collar?
The cross was too heavy to put on a single long chain so I checked to see if it would go over the mixed bead/mixed metal chain and it did! I knew I was close (below left)!
I went back and added the chains I’d been working with. When I looked at all three pieces together it seemed oh so right. The chains added texture and supported the cross which was now perfectly placed.
Fifth Step: Adding earrings and ring
This was the easiest part of all and took five seconds. I went for my rutilated quartz and diamond earrings. I added this fabulous ring that’s in the shape of a leaf. The ring and earrings felt so organic together: glamorous organic. They blended into the colors and the feel of the whole outfit.
A winning Beauty Bundle
In the end, I didn’t just have a necklace combination: I had a whole new Beauty Bundle that is quietly, elegantly gracious. Now that the Beauty Bundle has been created I can put it together in sixty seconds next time and make another outfit look grand. I can’t wait to try it with something else and show you!
Whew! This outfit was a workout. Now I’m ready to open some bubbly and celebrate. Anyone care to join me?
Share your styling thoughts. I’d love to know what you think!