I have many new customers who drag themselves reluctantly into my shop, in search of an accessory to finish their outfit for a special occasion. It no longer surprises me, but there are many who lack confidence in shopping for themselves, and indeed, find it intimidating, and bewildering at best, and terrifying at worst. Don't get me wrong here: shopping for oneself is not necessarily a higher virtue, but nor should it be a painful exercise. You don't have to be particularly interested in fashion trends either. But you are going to spend money on clothes and jewellery, (unless you go round naked), and I believe you may as well spend it in the way to get the most value out of it. For me, that means - Make your clothes - and accessories - work for you.
Why you should know your (jewellery) style:
Discovering your Jewellery Style has many benefits:
- You make the most of your jewellery
- Bring your outfits together
- Enhance your colouring and your best features
- You can adapt current trends to you and your wardrobe
- Avoid mistakes costing time and money
Best of all ... You will love your jewellery, feel more comfortable wearing it, wear it more often, and with more pleasure!
So, how do you make the most of your purchasing power, then? I'm glad you asked!
It means knowing yourself a little, and knowing your style. Your appearance is the outward reflection of the inside You. This doesn't have to be definitive: people change, and your style can be flexible too. But knowing what styles are out there, then what styles you are drawn too (and those you aren't), will help you in your purchasing and design choices, and ultimately in matching your choices to your personal style. Then Voila! Your clothing and accessories will reflect you as yourself, they will feel great for you to wear, comfortable to be in, and the fear associated with choosing things for your wardrobes will disappear. Promise!
I no longer ask direct questions about style when I am trying to understand what my customer wants. Not only can be induce panic from my customer "But I don't HAVE any style!" (sob) (this is not an auspicious beginning to a relationship!), it can also be confusing for both parties, as we try to sort out what we each understand about style, and how we define it.
How do I learn about jewellery style?
Method 1 - “By exploring”
I might begin: We take a gentle walk around our jewellery display, and ask, "What about this? This one? No? Too Big? Too Delicate? Too sparkly?" etc. (And yes, there is a world of Too Sparkly!) We have a variety of styles on display, unlike many other jewellery vendors, who find that niche marketing suits them better. Trying not to throw too many choices into the equation is important too. In as few moves as possible, I will try to work out a broad style category that fits my customer, possible length, most flattering colours, strength of contrast, size of design, and how to fit these parameters with the outfit she has (hopefully) brought in to show me.
This method works best when a range of jewellery can be tried on, and discussed. Yes, in front of a mirror! Once I point out design differences, and how they reflect on you, the awkwardness of being in front on a mirror disappears. Many times, on-the-spot venturing into new styles or colour is a revelation, and an evaluation of what might have been chosen by prior habit can be just as revealing.
And you know, trying on jewellery is Fun. Truly.
Method 2 - “Keeping it Simple”
When I want to Keep It Simple. How I explain the differences in Jewellery Style, using Pearls. This evens the playing field somewhat, takes out the complications of colour, contrast, and occasion.
Think about some of your friends that have radically different styles. Then say we need to match them to a string of pearls they might like to wear at work. Keeping it a little conservative. (Unless they have a job in a bead shop, where wearing jewellery is compulsory, and the boss likes a range of styles as living, walking examples).
You have some friends in mind, now? Okay ...
The Classic friend
Often "Classic" style doesn't need much explanation: timeless style, the jewellery is often understated, secondary to the outfits, uncluttered, lightly coloured, and small to medium in size.In our pearls, a simple strand, good quality, small. These are Swarovski pearls, they might as easily be natural pearls of similar looks.
The Feminine friend
Think of a friend who loves detail, fringing, flowing fabrics, sparkle and shine. Beads have softer edges, necklaces and bracelets are often layered, likely to include crystals. If she has a more conservative pearl necklace, it might be like this one, with a pretty clasp, and sparkling crystal rondelles inbetween the pearls.
The Dramatic friend
We all have a friend or two like this! The one who announces her presence as soon as she arrives. She has strong impact! Sharp, defined, often over-the-top, bold colours, over scale, but the look is clean, and disciplined. No fuss, or detail. Her pearl necklace choice might be like this:
Large Swarovski pearls, no added embellishment, but strong design.
The Natural friend
Still have a few friends that don't fit yet? Let's try this. This person often appears casual, loves natural fibres, knits, matte finishes, and colours inspired from the earth, the sky and the sea. Jewellery may be minimal, and functional (like a watch). Bead preferences are for natural stones, amber, shell, leather and wood. Her pearl necklace might be like this:
Natural freshwater pearls, rough rather than round and perfect, still pretty.
And now one of the Bead Shop's favourite customers:
The Creative friend
For whom no "rules" apply. This person might be slightly quirky, or utterly outrageous, but their style is highly individualistic. To this end, they are often found in op-shops (and handcraft and bead shops), to find ways of shaping things to get the look they want. They mix designs, colours, high fashion or eclectic pieces, and find their own place. For a conservative sting of pearls, they are more likely to choose these, than any of the others above:
These pearls are different, and unusual.
I hope by now you are getting some understanding of how different people with different styles will gravitate to different beads and different styles of jewellery. It might answer that puzzle of why it is so difficult to go shopping with some people whose style is so different from yours. It might also explain those beautiful clothes or pieces of jewellery hiding in your closet that you take out, put back, never wear, because they "don't feel right". However much you paid for them!
Other benefits of knowing about jewellery style:
If you are a designer, knowing where your jewellery style fits, helps you find your ideal customer. (Can't believe I'm saying this kind of thing *slaps head*). But it does: a natural style might find farmers markets are more profitable than pop-up shops in malls. That's about the extent of my advice here. Or you might find a few tweaks to your usual style will broaden your appeal to include a new clientele.Say adding another strand or two for the feminine style, or keeping it big, strong, angular and simple to attract the more dramatic.
So, have I done myself out of a job here? No. Because many of us don't fit simply and neatly into one of the five categories above. We are usually a blend of at least two, sometimes with a third thrown in. And we might be Classic at work, and Dramatic at leisure. Or vice-versa, as a friend of mine is! It takes patience and experience to recognise the finer nuances of style, especially when the customer in front of you has little understanding herself of the real person underneath.
It's a richly rewarding way of working with beads. And funny though it might seem, playing with beads, and getting a feel for your jewellery style, might just be the beginning of understanding yourself, and the comfort and maturity that that brings. It wouldn't be the first time ;)
If you are local, I'm happy to chat Jewellery Style with you anytime. More general Colour and Style Consultations are also in my repertoire, and are most excellent gifts, either for yourself or others. Groups are welcome, and lots of fun!
Til next time,
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