5 Common Fashion and Accessory Mistakes

After flipping through a few pre-shows on Sunday and reading Kat Giantis’ Emmy show fashion review “hits and misses” on MSN.com this week,


it occurred to me that many of faux pas that were cited on the red carpet are the same ones I see everyday on the streets around me.  Over-accessorizing, poor fit, elements out of proportion – you don’t need an awards show to bring these problems to light.  All you need is a good eye and an understanding of what works for you and what doesn’t.

So fire those stylists, take a good inventory of yourself, and wrap your brain around these five common fashion and accessory mistakes that happen both on and off the red carpet:

1.  Elements Out of Proportion

If you’re small, you need small prints, collars, jewelry, and the like.  If you’re big, you need big pieces.  If you’re medium-sized, go for medium-sized elements.  The concept is simple and straightforward, yet you see women walking down the street all the time wearing pieces that either over or under-whelm their size.  Huge bags hanging from miniscule wrists and shoulders.  Delicate chains draped on voluptuous curves.  What’s up with that?  Don’t fall into this trap.  Take stock of your body and match your clothing and accessory elements to your body proportions for a balanced, pulled-together look.

2.  Over-Accessorizing

One of the big trends right now is piling on lots of necklaces or bracelets.  It can look cute when paired with simple silhouettes to let the accessories shine.  Unfortunately, it’s easily overdone — and almost everyone over-does it.  They pile on necklaces, bracelets, belts, earrings, etc., creating a cluttered look that compels most people to look away instead of trying to make sense of it all.  Don’t do that.  Pick one focal point and stick with it.  Don’t look like someone draped you in accessories and you forgot to say “when.”  Or, as Coco Chanel once said, “Luxury lies not in richness or ornateness but in the absence of vulgarity.”  So show a little restraint before you cross the line into vulgarity with your accessories.

3.  Ill-Fitting

If you can buy clothes off the rack that fit you perfectly, consider yourself lucky.  Most women can’t.   They either buy to fit the largest part of their body and swim in the rest of the clothes, or they get it to fit one area and try to ignore the binding and squeezing that goes on everywhere else.  It can be a real challenge sometimes, particularly if you wear an odd size or, like me, you wear different sizes on top and bottom.   Often, tailoring is required.  If you spend a lot on your clothes, or if you regularly appear before audiences or on camera, insist upon tailoring.  Or, if you can never seem to find well-fitting clothes regardless of how hard you try, consider having your clothes custom-made.  It’s not as expensive as you think and you’ll be delighted by the results.

See the Professional Association of Custom Clothiers website to find a tailor near you,


4.  Inappropriate Hair and Makeup

Wearing the same hair and makeup every day for every activity is like trying to wear the same shoe every day for every activity:  it just doesn’t work.  Depending on what you’re doing, you’re either over or under-dressed.  Pull your hair back and go light on the makeup when you’re exercising to keep cool and not clog your pores; style your hair and powder your nose for work to look polished and professional; go glam for evening functions to match your head to the rest of your body.  Again, it seems simple and straightforward, yet a lot of women who regularly agonize over what to wear never give a second thought to their hair and makeup.  Don’t be one of them.  Think head-to-toe, not neck-to-toe – especially since changing your hair and makeup are cheap ways to give yourself a whole new look.

(Download a copy of “Makeup Secrets Revealed” by Lorette Lyttle,


to learn some snazzy makeup secrets.)

5.  Skin Show

With hemlines up to here, necklines down to there, and other cornea-searing displays of flesh, some gals garner plenty of attention.  Unfortunately, it’s not always positive.  When you blatantly and regularly call attention to the physical, many assume it’s because you have little else to offer.  Unfair?  Of course!  But there’s a time and place for showing excessive skin, and work, school, children’s activities, and religious services are not among them.  When I convinced one skin-showing, attention-loving gal I know to opt for appropriate clothes that flattered her figure instead of inappropriate pieces that flaunted her uh – assets, she later confessed that it felt like her IQ jumped 100 points overnight by how much better people treated her.  It’s no mystery why.  People treat you how you treat yourself.  If you put value on yourself, so will others.  “Your dress should be tight enough to show you’re a woman, but loose enough to show you’re a lady,” Hollywood designer Edith Head once said.  I couldn’t agree more.

It’s easy to make mistakes with clothing that undermine your authority and derail your image goals.  But it’s also easy to remedy the problems.  If you opt for pieces that fit your body and proportions and show restraint with accessories and displays of flesh, you’ll soon find yourself with more fashion “hits” than “misses” in your life, including all the good things that go with being well dressed.  Try it for yourself and see.

Need some help determining your shape and proportion?  WARDROBE MAGIC will show you what to do:


Need more help in finding appropriate accessories?  ACCESSORY MAGIC can help:



Diana Pemberton-Sikes is a wardrobe and image consultant and author of “Wardrobe Magic,” an ebook that shows women how to transform their unruly closets into workable, wearable wardrobes. Visit her online at www.fashionforrealwomen.com .

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