The hottest accessories this summer make the most of this season’s feminine dresses. Summer dresses leave little room for layering – who wants to swelter under a sweater in summer heat? – but that doesn’t mean accessories aren’t important. If anything, having the right accessories is even more crucial with a bare summer dress.
Everything from makeup to shoes looks fresh right now with a metallic finish. Chanel’s spring line was awash with pastels paired with silver accessories; the icy gleam of silver adds just enough edge to the sweetness of soft colors. Rich hues look especially vivid with a hit of gold or bronze. White goes with anything, but try it with a metallic belt or necklace in a dark gunmetal tone to keep it from looking bridal.
Long locks are beautiful, but leaving hair down can leave you feeling steamed in summer heat. An updo is a perfect solution for day or night. Leave your hair looking a little undone when you put it up; not only does a less starchy chignon look more modern, but it also holds up to sultry summer weather. Instead of invisible pins, use a bold hair accessory or ornamental hair sticks to draw attention to long hair even when it’s pinned up. A dramatic clip adds an interesting focal point to shorter hairstyles as well.
Bare arms and bangles are a classic combination. Chunky metallic bracelets are stylish, but don’t overlook unusual materials; mixing in some lucite or wooden bangles with metal adds visual interest to basic silvers and golds. Wear one or two for daytime and pile them on at night. Thrift stores and flea markets commonly have a few vintage carved Bakelite bracelets that you can buy for a song. If you have toned arms, show them off with an ornate upper-arm bracelet, a look that’s been popular for thousands of years. If it was good enough for Cleopatra, it’ll work for you too.
The return to more feminine silhouettes means an emphasis on the waist. A full-skirted sundress with a wide belt in a contrasting color makes any figure look curvy in all the right places. Or go to the opposite extreme and pair a whip-thin belt with a slim skirt for a retro feel that still looks fresh. Try a colorful fabric belt inspired by Bollywood or braided leather for a more down-to-earth look. Whether wide or skinny, the key to wearing a belt well is to make it stand out–no apologetic little sashes in the same color as your dress need apply.
Strappy sandals that work their way up your calves are everywhere. Although not every gladiator sandal flatters every shape–thick straps that go to the knee are no friend to shorter, thicker legs–there’s some variation on the trend that works for everyone. If you have the legs to wear bold, strappy styles, go for it; a short, simple summer dress looks gorgeous with dramatic gladiator sandals. If you’re going for something a little less look-at-my-legs bold or simply want an easier day look, choose sandals that go no higher than mid-calf in a shade that blends with your skin tone rather than contrasting with it. (About those skin tones–gladiator sandals are emphatically not a look to wear with stockings. Bare legs are de rigueur with them.)
Polish in Bright Hues
Accessories aren’t just something you put on; some of them are natural. A simple sundress in neutral tones gets a boost from splashy nail color. Don’t feel you have to stick to pinks, either–crayon-bright blues, oranges, and yellows look great with sun-kissed skin tones, while deep purples and cool aquas flatter fair complexions. Of course, red never goes out of style; adding a little pin-up glamour to your fingertips with a classic red goes well with any summer style.
If you want all eyes on your face, wear a showy necklace. One great thing about the trend toward big, bold necklaces is that costume jewelry looks as good or even better than the real thing. A unique beaded necklace makes more of a statement than a fussy little strand of pearls despite being a fraction of the cost. Materials are only limited by your imagination; amber, enamel, plastic, wood, metal, even feathers or stones look beautifully fresh against a minimalist summer dress. If your dress is low-cut in the back, why not try a necklace with a chain that trails between your shoulder blades to emphasize a graceful nape or a well-toned back?
This season’s accessories make a statement, so remember to focus on one or two areas to keep bold accessories from shouting each other down. The more distantly two accessories are worn, the less they compete; an enameled chignon clip in your hair won’t fight with the bangles on your wrist the way it might with a chunky necklace. Accessorize your summer dresses without overloading them and you’ll look cool no matter how hot it is.