For my style, an outfit isn’t a look until I’ve added my essential accessories. I don’t believe in piling them on like fashion icon 96 year old Iris Apfel, but I also don’t believe in understated basics. For me, the best accessories are quirky and eclectic – they add an artistic expression to my streamlined style. I pick mid-size pieces in different textures, plus a mix of colour and pattern. No basic black pumps or sensible pearls for me. I lean towards metallic footwear, beaded tulle chokers and juicy patent handbags. Here, I’ll focus on five of the categories that I rely upon to express my personality. No hats or too much jewellery (not my vibe) – I’m all about the shoes, a great quality handbag and necklaces. 

Photo by Tara West taken in the Presidential Suite at the Hazelton Hotel

1. Metallic footwear is the finishing touch on my current favourite outfit. I’m mad about this Dries van Noten topper (the most versatile fashion piece I own) and add accessories to help make it shine. I could easily pair it with simple black trousers and a flat ballet slipper but I like how silver Prada sneakers and a multi-tone Celine handbag add an eclectic spin. A cream cotton scarf fills in the neck and my everyday Hermes watch finishes it off. Style tip: Metallics are a terrific wear-with-everything neutral. Silver or gold would work with this outfit – just wear the shine in one piece. If I wore a silver handbag, for example, I’d tone down the shoes to matte leather slippers or suede heels. 

Photo by Tara West in the Lumas Gallery, Toronto

2. Necklaces – I wear the same rings, simple earrings and Hermes watch every day. My jewellery focus is on statement-making necklaces: either long to lengthen my neck or chokers to bring attention towards my face. I spent a small fortune on this beaded tulle choker by Dries van Noten (it ties at the back) but I wear it with everything from a simple black dress (this one is from Club Monaco) to an evening suit. Style tip: With an elaborate necklace, keep all other jewellery minimal. For me, that’s diamond stud earrings, period. 

3. Belts seem impossible to find these days. I snapped up this braided leather wrap a few seasons back. I also love this Gucci logo buckle (below) that I wrap over a classic tailored jacket. 

In New York, photo by Kim Stultz

4. Scarves are an essential part of my signature style. I love how a rich pattern in striking colours updates the most-loved (ie. oldest) pieces in my closet. This particular outfit (a winter 2018 favourite) includes several of my essentials – scarf, belt, cross-body bag worn over a dead simple blazer and lace skirt. I’ve worn this Valentino cross-body so much (it fits both of my phones, lipstick, keys and a wallet!) that it’s about to fall apart. I’m waiting for the new collections from Celine or Burberry (new creative directors coming to both iconic houses soon) to replace it.

Photo by Tara West

Here’s a spring version of a scarf that I found in a Victorian decor shop. I love the intricate lace and use it to a one of my favourite Dries van Noten coats. I’d also wear it with an all-black suit. Style tip: I prefer long narrow scarves that I can wrap twice around my neck and knot. They fill in your neckline without extra bulk. Plus, they’re my essential travel piece for chilly airplanes.

Photo by Tara West.

5. Cross-body handbags are hands-down (or no hands – haha) my favourite type of handbag. I’m always on the run and don’t go anywhere without either of my phones so a big enough bag that’s light enough for constant wear is essential. I’ve brought this patent Louis Vuitton bag back into rotation (it’s about six years old). The cherry bright shine will add the perfect splash of colour to a black outfit. Style tip: Before you buy your bag, make sure all of your daily essentials fit. For me, that’s two phones, a wallet, lipstick pen and keys – a lot to fit in a mini purse. I’ve wasted too much money on little designs that are just too small.

I like cross-body bags in bright pops of colour. This one is from Gucci.
And here's the absolutely best bag I have. I wear this Valentino mini with everything almost every day.
Photo by Tara West

Bonus pick – If you invest in a top quality handbag, save a bit more for a similar wallet. You’ll use it every single day for years, so your CPW (cost per wear) is reasonable. I bought this Gucci wallet three years ago, use it daily, and it still looks brand new. It’s a fun piece that perfectly reflects my personality – I still get a kick out of it when I take it out of my handbag. I have a smaller version that slips into my cross-bodies. 

So many favourite accessories - a Lanvin clutch and my beaded choker - in one outfit. I'm with my dear friend and fellow fashion lover Susan Langdon