According to New York-based stylist Sara Pollan, when people complain to her about not knowing how to accessorize correctly, the problem is usually not about lacking the right accessories. It’s more often that they can’t see what they have. “It’s difficult to incorporate jewelry and accessories into an outfit if they aren’t visible and accessible,” says Pollan. “I help people display their pieces in a way that encourages their use.”
You can do the same. Just follow these four steps.
Step 1: Take inventory & clean up
Start by taking out all of your jewelry, untangling everything, and laying it all out on a clean, flat surface. Now, take inventory of what you have, what you need, and what you’ll never wear. (Consider selling pieces that you no longer care for and save up for the next piece of jewelry you’ve been eyeing).
Keep silver cleaner cloths and jewelry cleaners on hand and give any dull or tarnished pieces and quick polish so that it’s already clean and sparkly when you reach for it to wear. It’s also wise to photograph each piece of jewelry so that you are prepared for insurance claims if ever there is a break-in or loss.
After an edit, you’re ready to display.
Step 2: Hit the bar
For items like necklaces and bracelets, you want to avoid piles–even inside the drawers of your favorite jewelry box. When pieces rub together, it can create frustrating tangles that will make you skip wearing them. Even worse, piles can cause cause scratches and other damage.
One solution is to hang some of your collection. And, according to Pollan, when it comes to hanging necklaces, there is nothing better than the velvet T-bar. “The material keeps items in place, and the shape allows items to utilize vertical space — something we often have more of than horizontal space.” They also have a streamlined, uncluttered look on a countertop.
Step 3: Use your walls
For those with a jewelry collection that maxes out the counter- or dresser-top, Pollan recommends some version of a peg board to similarly use vertical space. It can be mounted on a wall and used to hang bracelets and necklaces, therefore taking up no precious bathroom counter space.
You can keep it basic, or make your display feel more like a piece of art: Try finding a piece of interesting driftwood or some other more natural material that can be mounted to hang necklaces. This will achieve the same organization as the T-bar but with a much more sophisticated presentation, akin to merchandising in a boutique.
Step 4: Take it with you
It’s easy to select the perfect accessories from the comfort of your own home, once you’ve followed the suggestions above. Hopping on a flight can make it a bit more challenging.
For travel, Pollan suggests using small plastic zip bags for finer necklaces. “The trick is to drop in the necklace up to the top of chain, leaving it exposed and zip-locking around it,” she says. This will save you time untangling delicate jewelry when you’re on the go!