Designers and stylists share their best advice for how to get — and stay! — organized.

By Julia Marzovilla
Nov 26, 2020 @ 11:30 am
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Credit: Unsplash/InStyle

You know the old adage less is more? That statement has never been more relevant than when talking about your accessories collection. Stocking up on tons of necklaces or earrings may seem like a good idea at first, but storing them ultimately results in a tangled mess of necklaces, bracelets, and earrings.

Enter: the capsule collection, or a series of items so meticulously chosen, it becomes the stuff you actually wear over and over again. Think of your accessories capsule collection as the perfect way to find your signature pieces — a pair of earrings or a necklace that you can wear with any outfit to make it instantly more you. Although, we do have to admit: it's one thing to decide to edit down this stuff in theory, but practicing what you preach can be way harder.

To help you out, we spoke to expert stylists and designers for their tips on how to declutter your jewelry box without giving away your most versatile, prized possessions in the process, and how to really build a collection that lasts. 

Credit: Getty Images

Think About the Day-to-Day

The first two things to consider when choosing what to keep are deciding what your signature pieces are going to be, as well how many items your capsule collection will consist of. No two collections will look entirely the same, and choosing your essentials is a deeply personal process, albeit a difficult one.

“To be honest, I’m a bit of a jewelry hoarder. I can’t help it!" says Morgan Thomas, the founder of Yam, a jewelry brand based out of New York City. "But, I typically try to keep the essentials, the pieces that stay out on my dresser, and vintage finds I know I won’t be able to get anywhere else. Basically if you wear it everyday or haven’t seen it elsewhere, you should keep it.”

But, what if you’re just starting to build a jewelry collection for the first time?

Try Some Everyday Earrings

Instead of going for the first shiny thing you see, consider selecting a few key pieces to create a stash small, then keep it that way. For Thomas, this means having a pair of hoops in her constant rotation. “Whether it’s from my own collection or a hand-me-down pair from my mom, it’s my go to item and I consider it one of the most versatile pieces in a jewelry collection,” she says.

Chari Cuthbert, the founder of BYCHARI, takes a similar approach. “I think a great pair of hoops will give you the most bang for your buck. Once you find your staple pair of hoops, you can wear them year-round to elevate any outfit.”

Remember Rings

If hoops aren’t your thing, you might also consider a ring. “I wear a signet ring everyday. When I leave the house without it by mistake, I feel naked,” says Mark Shami, founder of The M Jewelers. “I love seeing people wear signet rings on chains too.”

Make a Checklist

As with buying clothes, choosing where to spend your hard-earned dollars when shopping for jewelry can be a challenge. With so many options and retailers to choose from, try purchasing from smaller brands you trust to provide pieces that will last with wear. When it comes to investing in an item or two, also consider the wearability of the piece in question as trends come and go.

“Before adding a piece to my collection I ask myself if it’s simple, sexy and timeless,” advises Cuthbert. “Each piece has to check all three boxes or I pass."

Go For the Classics

Shami recommends opting for a piece made from 14 karat gold that can be worn throughout the years without losing its shine. Nameplate necklaces or rings, for example, are a playful yet classic item to have in your collection. For Thomas, key pieces include “a gold chain, gold hoops and anything with pearls.”

Don't Rush, and Also Consider Your Budget

 For Alison Chemla, the creative director and designer of Alison Lou, the decision is a bit less simple, and takes more time.

“Jewelry has never been an impulsive buy for me,” she says. “If there’s something I really love and I know I want to invest in it, I take a few days to think about it before pulling the trigger. ”

However, pieces needn’t have a high price tag to be a classic — stunning options are available at truly any budget. For instance, Alison Lou offers pieces that retail for a little over $100 that feel luxe without totally breaking the bank. Plus, adding colorful alternatives into your accessories wardrobe can break up the selection of precious metals. BYCHARI also offers their own selection of pieces at any price point, from her lettered necklaces (Michelle Obama even wore one that spelled out VOTE at the Democratic National Convention) to an array of necklaces, earrings, and bracelets that retail under the $100 mark.

Take Inventory

If you’ve lost track of exactly how many pieces you have lying around, scheduling an annual clean-out is the best way to see what you really have.

“Because of my tiny New York apartment, I’m forced to declutter at least twice a year” says stylist Ryan Gale. “I take inventory of what I have, what condition it's in, its sentimental value to me, the last time I’ve worn it, and I ask myself if I honestly have the space for it.”

Periodically reviewing your collection “helps to remove the trendy items that no longer suit you, and maybe revisit an item you forgot about,” echoes Los Angeles-based stylist Alyssa Sutter. “A good way to do this is by asking yourself when was the last time you wore it and does it have any value to you, she says.”

Simply follow the same rules with your accessories as you would with your clothes: if you have not worn something in a few months, it probably shouldn't be in your collection.

Rethink What's 'Cool'

Finally, when building out a collection, avoid pieces that feel too trendy. Instead, pick one or two pieces each season that fit with what’s popular, but at the same time, connect with your personal style. Reserving a few spots in your collection for an on-trend item is a great way to keep your rotation feeling fresh as the seasons go by.

“Jewelry is such a great way to elevate any look,” Sutter advises. “Let's be honest — who doesn’t love wearing jewelry?”

We could not agree more.

This is Ask the Experts: Where our favorite fashion know-it-alls share their wisdom. Just because you can trust your style instincts doesn't mean you should have to.