What Jewelry to Wear with a Ruffled Bodice

The voluptuous hourglass figure is very much on trend now, and, as with any body shape, some women are born with it and others are not. Victoria’s Secret has built an empire on brassieres that make more out of less. This season, figure enhancements have become readily and unapologetically visible. Designers are blatantly adding volume to bodices with ruffles and other design details.

“You don’t have to be blessed with Grand Prix curves,” writes Michael Carl in the August 2010 issue of Allure, noting that “Designers are offering ways to accentuate the bosom without relying on cleavage or implants.” An early adopter of this trend was Charlize Theron at the 2010 Academy Awards, when she wore a flower-adorned Christian Dior dress that directed all eyes to her chest.

Illustration: Charlize Theron wearing Christian Dior at the 2010 Academy Awards

French, Italian and American designers all have adopted this trend, although it seems that the French are the most blatant in highlighting the bosom. Here is a Nina Ricci ensemble described by Carl as a “ruched and ruffled bustier in bordello red silk” paired with a pencil skirt edged in lace.

Allure shows the runway styling of the ensemble, worn with long black gloves and black shoes and handbag, above.

The July 2010 issue of Vogue styled the ensemble with gold knot earrings by House of Lavande and a bracelet that is uncredited in this photo but is most likely Balenciaga, as used in other photos in the article.

Vogue employs long gloves to bring the eye up and emphasize the elaborate detail on the bodice of a Marc Jacobs gown, shown with earrings from Balenciaga by Nicolas Ghesquiere.

Prada incorporates ruffles onto a body-conscious knit dress, shown in a runway shot without jewelry in Allure.

A more clearly hourglass shaped dress by Prada featuring layers of lace on the bodice is featured in the August 2010 issue of Town & Country, again shown with no jewelry.

Here’s a highly embellished top in an ensemble by Valentino pictured in the September 2010 issue of Lucky magazine.

Banana Republic too, embraces the trend, as seen in this ensemble from a current ad. Ruffles spill from under a cardigan sweater worn under a loosely tied trench coat.

Notice that in all cases, the hair is controlled, worn up and away from the neck, which is left bare of any necklace. Earrings, when they are worn, are short clips or clusters that sit on the ears. Remember, the whole point of these fashions is to emphasize the bosom. Long hair worn past the shoulders and necklaces that intersect with the ruffles would only muddy the look.

I have seen one look promoted that takes a different tack in choosing jewelry to adorn a ruffled bodice dress. Emporio Armani shows a short, flirty wool dress with a strapless ruffled bodice in a pretty hue of light grey accompanied by two black plastic cuffs on each wrist and heavy geometric black plastic double-drop earrings with a mod 1960s sensibility. The ensemble is shown with a pair of bright orange satin and suede shows.

Here is the Emporio Armani ad:

Here is the Emporio Armani ensemble in a runway photo pictured in Allure magazine:

All the bright or dark accessories are almost evenly spaced around the garment, and are almost of equal visual weight, framing the dress. The short structured shape of the dress’s skirt and even the fairly neutral color of the dress factor in to allow this framing effect. The hair is short or slicked back and there are no other distractions, such as rings, to counteract the placement of each thoughtfully chosen accessory.

Even as the Emporio Armani ensemble works beautifully, it is obvious that the same approach to accessories would not work with any of the other ruffled bodice looks seen above. For a foolproof look, with a ruffled bodice garment wear clip-style earrings and possibly a cuff or heavy bracelet or two; nothing more in the way of jewelry.