Plain to Polished: Using Accessories to Pull Outfits Together

Hey PMT crew!  Remember back at the beginning of January in my Focuses for 2019 how I told you I wanted to write more style how-to posts?  I’ve got one for you today with a new little corner of PMT that I’m calling Plain to Polished!  Actually, it’s not so new.  It’s more like a resurgence of posts I used to do long ago that I called “Shabby to Chic,” with a new name that feels more appropriate.  (Sometimes things aren’t shabby, per say, just plain.  And sometimes the “after” looks aren’t chic, just more put together.)  Anyway, whatever we call it, in Plain to Polished we’ll look at plain outfits and talk through easy style tips to pull outfits together and polish them up.  And I mean EASY.  Let’s dive in to today’s post, which is on accessories!

If you haven’t read my Building a Remixable Wardrobe series yet, it’s a must-read.  Apologies in advance for the insanely hideous pictures–it was in my first year of blogging in 2012 and times were different back then. 😜 Anyway, Part 5 of the series illustrates over and over again what we’re going to talk about today, which is how impactful accessories can be.


How to Put Together Outfits: From Plain to Polished with Accessories for Casual and Business Casual Outfits

I’d heard before that accessories can make or break an outfit.  At first, I didn’t understand it at all and wasn’t sure I even believed it.  But as I paid more attention to accessories and started utilizing them more, I saw how true this was!  Let’s look below at how accessories take an outfit from plain to polished featuring a simple outfit formula for either winter or spring: a sweater + bottoms.  (Thicker and warmer sweaters for winter and thinner for spring, of course.  But the outfit formula is the same. 😊)

SIZING INFO: I’m 5’6″ and usually S/M or 6 in clothes, 8.5 to 9 in shoes.


Camel Pullover Sweater + Distressed Jeans + Flats

Here’s my favorite super crazy soft relaxed sweater with jeans and nude flats.  I absolutely love this sweater and remixed it in three different outfits HERE.  The sweater is awesome.  BUT, as awesome as it is, with just jeans and nude flats, it’s a little plain.  Not bad, just plain.  So, let’s change some stuff:

Camel Pullover + Distresse jeans + Booties + White Accesories

Added a necklace and earrings to “anchor” the outfit and give it a focal point.  (One OR the other would work if you don’t want to wear both.)  Necklaces work WONDERS in providing focal points for outfits, especially with plain pieces that don’t have a lot going on.  I have about four main necklaces that I use for 95% of my outfits.  They are incredibly versatile and are SO easy to throw on to pull together outfits in a flash.

I also switched out the shoes for ones with a little more presence.  It’s nothing too crazy–just some tan booties–but they balance out the darker tone of my sweater and anchor the outfit better.  If you’ve got spring on the brain and it’s too warm for booties, leopard print flats would be great as well.

And, because we all love a good before and after side-by-side:

Plain to Polished Outfit: Camel Pullover and Distressed Jeans

Super simple changes, right?  Little tweaks go a long way.

Shop The Outfits
Sweater (exact-size S/M)  |  Jeans (exact– size 4)  |  Flats (exact -size 9)
Booties (similar)  |  Earrings (exact-size M) | Necklace (similar, similar)

And, since after the recent PMT Survey I discovered that over 70% of you need business casual outfits 😮, here’s a business casual version of a sweater + bottoms:

Navy Pullover + Gray Business Casual

Again, not terrible, just plain.  But look what happens when you add a necklace and change the shoes:

Navy Sweater + Statement Necklace + Grey Business Casual Pants + Maroon pumps

BAM!  Perfectly polished outfit for work!  So, SO easy, right?  Honestly, you don’t even have to change the shoes for this one–this outfit works great with nude pumps and a necklace.  But just for fun and to keep it consistent with changing the shoes in the casual outfit above, I went with maroon pumps.  Puts a cute twist on the outfit and gives it a bit more dimension!

Plain to Polished Business Casual Navy Sweater Grey Pants

This necklace is one of my four go-to necklaces that I mentioned.  I’ve had this for years!  I LOVE wearing it for dressier events, but I also use it to polish up a plaid button up in a casual outfit.  And it creates a great put together business casual outfit as well.  Super versatile!

Also BTW this sweater is BACK IN STOCK!  You can see the ways I’ve worn it HERE.  It is very, very comfy, as it’s soft and has stretch but doesn’t lose shape.  It’s fitted without squeezing you terribly which makes it great for pairing with straighter legged pants like this or tucking into skirts like I’ve shown so many ways in the past HERE.  It comes in 13 different colors which you can see HERE!  I wear size M.

Shop The Outfits
Sweater (exact-size M)  |  Pants (similar-Julie Fit)  |  Nude Pumps (similar)
Maroon Pumps (exact-size 9) |  Necklace (exact)


If you’re combining some plain pieces like a solid sweater and bottoms, simply add a necklace and wear some shoes that have a bit of presence.  EASY PEASY, right?  Also, if you want a list of my most used, must-have accessories (like the 4 necklaces that I wear in 99% of my outfits) check out my post My Most Used, Most Versatile, Go-To Accessories.

So, seriously–tomorrow, or sometime this week, wear a sweater with jeans or pants and put on some noticeable jewelry, like a necklace or statement earrings, and shoes that ground an outfit.  Take that sweater + bottoms combo from plain to polished!

Shop My Most-Used Accessories:

Did you like this post?  See more Plain to Polished tips HERE


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