Finishing School: How I Got Myself to Wear Jewelry Every Single Day (and Like It!)

Finishing School: How I Got Myself to Wear Jewelry Every Single Day (and Like It!)

jewelry-boxA long time ago, I read somewhere that a woman should spend 30% of her clothing budget on accessories.

I thought that sounded ridiculous. Because accessories are optional, right? 

That was 10 years ago, and I’m finally learning the whys and hows of accessorizing.

Why I’m learning to love (and wear) accessories.

Accessories make outfits look complete. When you’re accessorized, it looks like you tried. That’s a good thing.

Accessories are great for minimalists. Accessories let you get by with a small wardrobe, because you can easily change the look and feel of an outfit with the extras: dressy or casual, playful or sophisticated.

Accessories are easy to shop for. Finding clothes that fit your body can be tough. Accessories are easier to find, more likely to fit well, and a lot more fun to shop for than the right pair of jeans.

If accessories are so great, what keeps me from wearing them?

I don’t make the effort. Accessories are the finishing touches–they’re usually the last thing you do when you’re getting dressed. They’re so easy to skip if I’m not committed to making the effort.

I forget. Before I had a system for storing my accessories, they were often out of sight and out of mind.


Solution: Put them where you can see them!

My jewelry had become a tangled mess, so it was very hard to find what I wanted in the morning. (I threw out my old broken jewelry box last year before I had a replacement. Big mistake!)

I searched Pinterest for organizing ideas and swore I wouldn’t be a perfectionist about it: I used the first jewelry organizer DIY I found. The coral egg crate is from Anthropologie.

Now my jewelry is where I can see it: my necklaces and dangly earrings are hanging by my closet wall at eye level, and my studs and bracelets are in the cute little egg crate on my dresser. It’s impossible to forget!

Bonus: the clutter is gone, and that always makes me feel better.

How often do you wear accessories? What are your favorites?

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34 comments | Comment


  1. The 70-30 rule for accessories reminds me very much of “A Guide to Elegance” (still one of my favourite guides) which explains the theory of buying less clothing of greater quality and adapting to the latest fashion using cheaper accessories.

    Sadly I’m still not in the habit of wearing matching jewellery every day, instead I wear the same (sentimental) silver chain and earrings daily, though it could be said to be my preferred style. Great to hear that it works for you though – I’m sure your outfits must appear pulled together every day!

  2. Yes, I got hooked on necklaces when I was pregnant with my son. I had a lucky necklace in the shape of a heart that I wore each time I was afraid of bad news (rough pregnancy). Everything turned out fine in the end, but I had a new necklace habit! I hardly ever buy new clothes, but I like that I can change them up by matching them with different necklaces. Earrings I’m stuck in a rut (partially because I feel like my ears are too big), and bracelets get stolen and broken by my 2 year old daughter, but I have a thing for necklaces.

  3. Yes and no. 🙂 I have a small box of jewelry, but I tend to go for the same pieces every time. I have a silver set of beads from Talbot’s that I purchased specifically for our honeymoon 12.5 years ago. Those are special. I have a pearl necklace that the dear hubby gave me for my 22nd birthday (one of two gifts he’s ever given me that made me cry). I have a diamond pendent that my mom had made for me out of my grandmother’s wedding ring set (small, but exceedingly special). I have a wooden necklace that I purchased when we were living in Mozambique, and I have a couple of hand-made necklaces from a friend. Basically, if it doesn’t have a special significance to me, I don’t wear it.

    The only other “jewelry” items that I wear are from my vast collection of holiday pins. I’m a holiday freak, and have been collecting pins since my grandmother started sending them to me as a little girl. Peter has picked up the pin-giving and has added several new ones that have become favorites. We’re not talking about anything fancy…we’re talking about those old pins that Hallmark used to sell. In fact, I wrote about one of them back in 2010:

    • Anne says:

      I love hearing about collections like that. Thanks for sharing, Carrie! (And love the cute little Pilgrim pin in that post!)

  4. Jaimie says:

    I actually have a fair bit of jewelry, partly because I made a lot in high school. But I don’t wear much of it often, except for a few favorites. I do like how I look and feel when I take the time to put some on. 🙂 Also, thanks to you, I TRY to put on a little bit of makeup every day (not that it always happens). I definitely feel more put-together, even if my husband can’t tell a difference. 🙂

  5. Amy says:

    I agree. Since starting WIWW I’ve been more consistent about jewelry as it really does finish the outfit. Sometimes all I manage is earrings but it’s something. I really want to get better at wearing bracelets!
    I have a board in my room as well and it really does make it so much easier when it’s up and out where you can see it all.

  6. Jessica S says:

    I have trouble with this area of fashion. I have a lot of jewelry that I don’t like and don’t wear, and a few go-to things that I do wear, dangly earrings, my purity ring, a nice cross necklace, one pair each of small gold/silver hoop earrings. I never wear bracelets.
    One of the biggest reasons that I don’t wear jewelry is because as a musician, it tends to get in the way. Because I teach four days a week, those four days I can’t wear any bracelets, and if I’m teaching violin I can’t wear big or chunky necklaces or even dangly earrings. Does anyone have any suggestions of how to work around that? I have scarves that I wear a lot, but accessorizing is harder when bracelets and rings get in the way of playing piano (and violin), necklaces either dig into my neck or buzz against my violin, and longer dangly earrings are in the way. thoughts?

    • Anne says:

      Jessica, the first thing that pops in my head is scarves. Do those lie flat enough to work with your violin? That, and beautiful studs 🙂

      • Jessica S says:

        Scarves do work, i just need some more that are colorful and light, I tend to end up with chunkier/thicker scarves (i love my warm scarves in the winter time!) that are a little akward to play with. I think I will start to look for some more studs that I love. Thanks!

  7. Missy June says:

    I accessorize quite a bit and wear jewelry everyday. I take it off when I come home from work, before exercising…but usually put it all back on before going out for the evening. I do stick to a few favorites and have too much to properly wear! Need to purge, I think. My scarves hang in my closet, my earrings are in a jewelry box on the dresser and an entire drawer is dedicated to necklaces/bracelets. I store them in labeled boxes.

    I like the hanging idea, but truly have no where to put it!

    • Anne says:

      Missy June, do what works for you! In my bedroom, I have lots of wall space but very little “counter” space, so the hanging method works well for me. But that doesn’t mean it’s the perfect solution for everyone.

      My next step is organizing my scarves….

  8. Tim says:

    Hey, I wear jewelry every day too, Anne! It’s a plain ring on my left hand, next finger over from my pinky. I’ve kind of gotten used to having it on over the past 25+ years.


    P.S. Thanks for the guest post over at my place today. You sure sparked some good conversation!

  9. Hmm.. I kinda hate on accessories because I don’t have them organized well. My necklaces are always tangled so I don’t have the patience to untangle them. And I’m forever losing just ONE earring! I’ve been sticking with studs in my ears and the simplest of simple wedding bands, but I loved the point that accessories are great for minimalists — that makes sense!

  10. Deborah says:

    This was one of my resolutions this year! I bought a set of three hoops in different metals and a matching set of bangle bracelets. I have tried to not leave the house without at least these on. Sometimes I can manage a necklace or different jewelry, but it has been so nice to have these as a quick fall back.

    It honestly helps me feel more sophisticated in my three-kid world. I also am more productive when I dress like a “grown up.” Less likely to veg in front of the tv. 🙂

    • Anne says:

      I love it! And I don’t know why it’s so hard to dress like a grown-up some days. It seems like it ought to come more easily by now, but that’s not always the case….

  11. I always wear earrings and I’m a big fan of scarves, especially on work days when I won’t wear necklaces, lest the baby try to pull them off of me. Accessories are such a nice touch and an easy way to show your style.

    • Anne says:

      Agreed. And now that you mention it, you always have pretty fabulous accessories on! Especially dangly earrings 🙂

  12. I try to wear a necklace whenever my shirt allows for it. They’re usually not too flashy; I have some small silver charms, some strands of pearls and other gems, and some assorted chains and gemstone pendants. I almost never wear bracelets or rings because I have very thin fingers and wrists, and all the styles I like don’t come in a small enough size. I do find, however, that vintage pieces are often designed for people with smaller hands and fingers. I do agree with you–they make an outfit look like you care.
    One thing I don’t like to do is buy cheap ones; I prefer ones that will last me ages and ages, so my style is a lot of silver and gemstones.

    • Anne says:

      Oh, thanks so much for the tip on vintage pieces! I have skinny wrists and I had no idea that older jewelry would be more likely to work for me. So good to know!

  13. Emily says:

    In high school, I worked at a job that required wearing three items of jewelry: earrings (counted as one), a necklace, a bracelet, or something in your hair. I learned that I feel so much more put together when I wear jewelry. But my jewelry situation right now looks a lot like your “before” picture! I think that’s another DIY project I need to move up on my list.

  14. From a practical perspective, accessories are going to be at least 30% of the value of your wardrobe, just because jewelry is expensive. I’d say it’s probably like 90%. Any day I get dressed, my engagement ring is by far the most expensive thing I’m wearing…and I imagine that’s true for a lot of women.

  15. Before my son was born, I loved wearing jewelry whenever I went to work or just out. Now…it just doesn’t seem necessary with yoga pants! 🙂 I have noticed, though that I feel more “complete”when I put on some earrings and a necklace or bracelet. So I’m working on it!

  16. Victoria says:

    Some of my favorite accessories are yard sale finds. I have 3 necklaces I wear over and over that cost me .50 cents a piece. My other favorites were pieces I inherited from my mother, I always get comments on them, and since she isn’t on this earth any more they mean a lot to me however she was plus sized and I am not so the chains on her pieces are very long, so I don’t wear them as much as I would like, my hubby keeps telling me to get new chains but I hate to part with the ones that went around the neck I hugged for years.

  17. Zadi says:

    So true! I had to purge about 90% of my jewelry and then devise an in-plain-sight hanging scheme for the remainder in order to encourage myself to actually wear any. And still on most days it’s just my wedding ring, watch, and earrings.

    I can’t wear most bracelets because of narrow wrists and hands (though thanks for the tip about vintage stuff, @Magdalen), and I don’t like the feeling of wearing lots of rings, so that pretty much leaves necklaces. I must get better about remembering to wear the things.

    Also, I adore scarves and have a bunch of them, but confess that I don’t have much of a repertoire of what to do with the dang things. Does anyone here have favorite scarf-tying tutorials?

  18. Bélise says:

    I love the idea of jewelry and what it does for you, but it’s really hard to get myself to actually wear it. Thank you for your inspiring blog post and advice on how to love wearing jewelry every day. I think it’s great advice to display your jewelry in the open where you can see it, so that you will remember to wear it.

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