Black-tie and Formal Accessories: What to Wear and What to Avoid

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One styling question I get asked quite often is how to accessorize an evening gown for a black-tie or formal event. Usually already plenty bedazzled, evening gowns can pose a challenge when choosing the right baubles to complete your ensemble. Typical sartorial rules of less is more don’t necessarily apply here, and even if you don’t normally wear jewels, a black-tie or formal event absolutely calls for a bit of glam. If you are wearing a solid color/material v-neck, off the shoulder, one-shoulder, or strapless dress a matching necklace, bracelet and earrings set is perfectly proportional and not at all too much. For solid high-neck, and halter styles, usually I advise skipping a necklace and going with statement chandelier earrings and bracelets (usually these styles have some detailing at the neck already). If your dress is all over lace or embellishment, opt for a simple drop earring like this and hair accessory, or bracelet but not everything as the dress is already making quite a statement.

Jewelry etiquette specifies a 6 pm changeover from daytime jewelry, to evening jewelry. This is not the place for acrylic, resin, novelty, natural materials, or anything that you could wear for a casual day out. Now is the time to break out those big sparklers, the chandelier earrings, dazzling layered necklaces, and jewel encrusted headbands!

You don’t need to spend thousands of dollars to get gorgeous jeweled statement jewelry. In fact, this is one time where I actually don’t recommend investing, because you truly will probably only wear these pieces once. One anecdotal example, every year I’ve gone with a different dress and different color scheme, so finding good enough quality pieces to hold up for one night tends to be my advice in this one rare instance. In years past I’ve sourced sets from Etsy, carried my grandmother’s antique clutch, and layered pieces I already had for more drama. Also, check stores like TJ Maxx and Saks Off 5th for pretty costume jewelry. If you still need some help choosing the right gown, see the companion post to this one from last week, here otherwise, keep scrolling for my black-tie and formal accessory picks!


Ok, it’s an investment but this actually can be worn more than once. Christmas and NYE, looking at you!
Again, an investment but how cute would this be against a monochrome ensemble for a winter daytime look?


Matching bracelet here.
Matching earrings and bracelet.


Can be carried all year.


xo, Mia

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