[See this post if you’d like a chance to win a copy of Janie Bryant’s book, The Style Files.  I announce the winner tomorrow night!]

Here’s my favorite quote about accessories from Janie Bryant:  “When someone zeroes in on you, he or she typically views you from the shoulders up.”   Hence, she encourages the reader to knot a scarf at the neck or add a peacock-feather hair comb for her close-up.  I’d say this is probably true even for us large-busted women–unless we’re deliberately playing the cleavage card.  Do you agree?  Or if it isn’t true, at least accessories above the shoulder can help draw his wandering eyes up.

It strikes me that accessories are like someone cracking a joke when a subject gets too tense or serious.  They change the conversation.  In our case, accessories don’t hide our bosoms, but they can draw attention away from them and encourage the viewer to take a different perspective. 

I still want to play with scarves and would love for readers to contribute their experiences with them.  My fear is that they will chop me up, and I need as much of a vertical line as possible.  So until I figure scarves out, my close-up accessories are earrings.  Look at this great pair that I found from the The Jewelry Bar.

I’ve also begun to think more about purses, especially after reading this passage in Linda Grant’s The Thoughtful Dresser:

And, of course, they always have them in your size, and they always fit, which is the sheer beauty of a bag, with no fruitless schlepping from store to store, no miserable trying on.  No anguished looks in the mirror.

. . . .

I do not understand others’ lack of interest in bags.  They use the same one, day in, day out, usually black, occasionally brown.  Its depressing practicality drags any outfit down to the lowest common denominator.  It is the accessory equivalent of the graying bra and torn panties, except at least you can’t see those.  The dreary bag stands independent of the clothes it was supposed to go with, as if it is outside fashion and style and taste.  Humdrum and yet absolutely essential.

Gulp. I am so guilty.  But while playing dress-up last week, I remembered this cute little handbag that I bought from a Paris flea market in 2002.  See it paired with my Upper Eastside costume after the jump.  Plus find Janie Bryant’s list of the four basic handbag styles that she thinks every woman should have on hand.

Here’s last week’s Upper Eastside costume.  I find tiny bags to be incredibly inconvenient, but this was worth  the lift it gave me.

Janie Bryant’s four basic handbag requirements:

  1. An oversized leather tote for the workplace.  Designers know that women need chic briefcases and so most styles can handle a computer, files, and a pound or two of cosmetics.  Look for polished hardware like gold closures or metal embellishments which look professional.
  2. A tailored day bag in black, beige, or white with simple, elegant lines.  Equestrian-inspired purses–think Gucci, Coach, and Mulberry–are as classic and versatile as a cardigan.
  3. The all-purpose clutch, be it a fold-over, envelope, or round pochette, complements almost any look for late day or night.  Don’t shy away from bright colors or patent leather or even embellishments like studs or grommets.
  4. An evening bag is essential for formal events.  Rather than fret over precise color combinations, you can always pick up a metallic silk, leather, or skin–in gold, silver, copper, or bronze–that works with any gown.

Doesn’t this put you in the mood to go handbag shopping?