We spend a lot of time talking about accessories (and with good reason), but a concern that's equally important to an accessory's design and quality is how it interacts with your wardrobe. No handbag, shoe or piece of jewelry is an island, and it's the overall picture that's important; you want your outfit to be more than the sum of its parts. Luckily, our friends at Saks have some pretty fancy parts to play with at their Contemporary First Look launch.
Our task was simple: Take three basic clothing looks from contemporary designers (Contemporary First Look houses 13 brands in total, but we chose Rebecca Minkoff, Elizabeth and James and Marc by Marc Jacobs) and turn them into three full-fledged outfits with handbags, shoes and jewelry. Obviously, we rose to the occasion. Check out our full (and fully shoppable) looks after the jump.
Here we have schoolgirl chic from Marc by Marc Jacobs; the soft knit and interesting proportion of the Marc by Marc Jacobs Sabina Cashmere Sweater ($268 via Saks) and Marc by Marc Jacobs Sweater Skirt ($168 via Saks) are perfect for Fall 2012's contemporary trends. What it needs, though, is some color:
The Marc by Marc Jacobs Multicolor Stud Necklace will shine brilliantly against a soft ecru knit and give you an automatic color palette for the rest of the look. $178 via Saks.
The Marc by Marc Jacobs Werdie Snake Embossed Leather Messenger not only introduces a rich autumnal color, but also an interesting texture. You can never have enough of that in cool weather. $448 via Saks.
Finally, the shoe. Proportions like the ones in this outfit require a bit of a heel to lengthen the leg, and the Marc by Marc Jacobs Chelsea Boots provide that without loosing the signature quirk of this retro-modern schoolgirl. $450 via Saks.
This Rebecca Minkoff Wednesday Dress ($368 via Saks) is a perfect summer-to-fall transition piece for a night out, but such a strong print needs to be accessorized carefully:
The Rebecca Minkoff Kiss Kiss Python Print Bag pulls from the dress' darker plum tones for a print mashup that contrasts rather than clashes. $395 via Saks.
The Rebecca Minkoff Alvin Smoking Slippers make a minidress feel more modern and confident; everyone expects you to go with a heel, but a glittering smoking slipper is a far more interesting choice. $195 via Saks.
When adding jewelry to a strong print, you can play with shape but stick to a solid metal color, like the Bing Bang Sacred Geometry Cuff. $250 via Saks.
The Elizabeth and James Silk Damien Shirt ($295 via Saks) and Elizabeth and James Winne Velvet Trousers ($365 via Saks) look like they came straight out of the Olsen Twins' closet. Here's how to dress them up for a swanky weekend dinner:
The shoes, of course, are crucial. The Elizabeth and James Leather and Snake Embossed Pumps add some length to a leg that could look short because of the cuffed trousers, and the metallic toe provides a healthy dose of flash. $325 via Saks.
The standout star of this styling job is the Elizabeth and James Bianca Jacket, which coordinates with the shoe and provides plenty of texture and drama. $995 via Saks.
With a look that features print, fur and velvet, keep the jewelry simple. The clean lines and dual metals of the Elizabeth and James Square Ring make a statement without competing with the rest of the look for attention. $275 via Saks.