Styling an “It” Dress with Jewelry

On occasion, one garment so typifies fresh style and so captures the fancy of editors, that it appears in multiple fashion publications. For spring 2010, one such “it” garment is by Gucci: a narrow-cut taffeta dress, strapless and short, in an exotic black, white, orange and grey print. The design of the dress, at first glance, seems to be symmetrical, with one side of the print being a mirror image of the other. However, on closer inspection, you’ll see that the two sides of the dress are not an exact match; there are differences that make the print slightly asymmetrical (for example, look at the black blotches in the triangular white portions of the design nearest the hem).

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A high-end department store ad features the dress accessorized only by the belt that also appears in the magazine stylings of the garment. The asymmetrical hairstyle and the dark, winged eye makeup and dark nail polish on the model give her an edgy look. The wings at the corners of her eyes reflect the wing-like details of the print in the portion at the center of the fabric design. The line of her side ponytail repeats the sweeping curve of the metallic detail of the belt.

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From the March 2010 issue of InStyle magazine, the dress is worn with the belt (described as being made of metal and leather) and leather and suede platform sandals, also by Gucci. The sterling silver necklace is by Patricia von Musulin. The rhodium ring is by Alexis Bittar. The adornment is bold, yet clean and simple, and does not interfere with the dominance of the print.

The sandals are dark and eye-catching, with their thick platform base and the wide strip down the front of each foot. They are the second place the eye goes after taking in the dress. From there, the eye sweeps up to the necklace, which has sufficient size and scale to balance the weight of the sandals, and from there to the model’s face.

The necklace has a decidedly structural look, yet is not quite symmetrical in its styling, repeating the effect of the print on the dress, which is not a precise mirror image left and right. The central element of the necklace anchors the piece, relates to the touch of orange in the center of the upper black winged design detail of the dress, and extends the central line of the print of the dress up to the face.

The design of the ring appears to have very simple lines, adding finish to the ensemble but not competing with the more eye-catching accessories worn by the model.

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Town & Country magazine takes a less edgy approach to accessorizing the dress, combining it with strappy metallic sandals by Elie Tahari, plus a single textured bangle bracelet of sterling silver and amethyst by John Hardy and a chunky ring described as a “24k-gold, sterling-silver and diamond ring” by Sevan.

The leather and wood sandals coordinate with the colors of the dress and especially with the metallic detail of the belt, yet they don’t command attention; they have much less visual weight than the black Gucci footwear seen in InStyle.

The bracelet has approximately the same visual weight as the metallic detail of the belt and again, plays a minor supporting role. The highly dimensional ring is the more dominant item of jewelry.

As styled, the focus of the photo in Town & Country is all about the dress. The selection and placement of accessories keep the eye on the bold print design. As you look at the photo, consider whether you would add earrings and, if so, what they might look like. How would they coordinate with the dress, ring, bracelet and sandals?