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You’ve found the perfect dress. Now, add the right details and turn it into a complete and polished look. by Aricia Symes-Elmer

It’s all about creating a complete look without overdoing any single element. Shoes and bags set the tone for your look, and by no means do they need to match. A simple shoe with a glamorous bag (or vice versa) is a great strategy. Black works with almost everything, but metallics are also neutral and add great shimmer to an evening look.

Jewelry highlights your own personal style and makes any dress your own. Add dimension by layering on simple jewels for an unexpected punch, or pick one dramatic piece to make a statement and let the others play off of it. For example, oversized earrings should be paired with a subtler necklace. An armful of bangles makes a dramatic statement and can be balanced with great earrings or a necklace, but stay away from a large cocktail ring.

A shawl can keep you warm for your entrance or keep you covered during more subdued parts of day-long events like a weddings, but they can also become part of your look and add dimension and color. Decide ahead whether you will wear your shawl all evening or remove it at some point, and make sure the look comes together both ways.

Undergarments require careful consideration, too-nothing ruins a look faster than a stray strap or “digging” lines in unwanted places. Shapewear has come a long way in terms of comfort and style, and remember-it’s about smooth and subtle control. Dress silhouettes vary widely, so it’s essential to try on various undergarments with your dress before the big day. Hosiery is a complicated topic for most women, but bare legs are still on trend when weather permits. If you prefer more coverage, opt for barely-there shades that match your skin tone. With darker dresses, try sheer black for a simple solution.


Tip No. 1

A glamorous bag in shimmering gold mesh adds shine and a retro-modern touch to any dress.  Bags and shoes do not need to match, so pick one to shine! whiting and davis gold mesh evening bag, $165, ladybug shop

 Tip No. 2

Shawls can do more than keep a chill at bay. They add texture and color and create a completely new look for your dress. Be sure to decide ahead of time if you’ll keep it on all evening or plan to layer another  accessory underneath. mina mann  silk shawl, $260, peabody essex museum shop


Tip No. 3

Long necklaces, like these strands, create length, making you appear longer and leaner, and create a more casual flair.  Pick jewelry that you love in order to highlight your own personal style and make the dress your own! lisa scala vintage tassel necklace, $52, antique key charm necklace, $39, the fashion bus stop


Tip No. 4

These bangles can be layered together for unexpected punch and, when worn together, create a dramatic statement.  Let them take center stage and have other jewelry play off of this piece. set of shimmering bangles, $46 large, $40 each small, nest


Tip No. 5

This feminine shapewear hits just under the bust, creating a clean look no matter where your dress waistline hits. Be sure to test out the all-important undergarments before the big day! simone perèle lace accent shapewear, $68, the ivory corset