Fashion accessories can make or break any outfit - they’re beyond important when it comes to fashion design and self-styling.
There’s so much diversity when it comes to fashion accessories and stocking your drawers, cupboards, and jewellery boxes can be a tricky one!
In fact, there are so many types of fashion accessories available that it’s hard to keep track of the latest and greatest in fashion accessory design.
There may even be some awesome accessories that you don’t own already or haven’t even heard of!
To help you, we’ve compiled an epic list of fashion accessories to reference when you’re searching for new items, styles and outfits.
Why You Need Fashion Accessories
Fashion accessories either make or complete an outfit.World-famous designer Oscar de la Renta who dressed Jackie Kennedy and other very prolific individuals said “a woman makes an outfit her own with accessories” - this couldn’t be more true today.
Fashion accessories have played a major part in fashion for thousands of years, and they’re not going anywhere fast. They’re evergreen, multi-purpose and many serve practical as well as aesthetic functions. They’re the glue that pulls everything together and completes the look.
From outlandish or statement pieces to subtle accents and everything in between, fashion accessories serve many purposes in fashion design and are a hallmark of styles and trends throughout the ages.
Consider purses, handbags, sunglasses and watches; these fashion accessories all combine fashion and practicality to offer something that compliments or completes an outfit whilst also serving a practical purpose.
Of course, many other types of fashion accessories like necklaces, earrings or other jewellery usually serve purely aesthetic purposes. But overall, there’s a good mix between accessories for the sake of style and accessories that make our life easier.
Let’s start with arguably the biggest category of fashion accessories, jewellery.
When we think of jewellery, we probably think of necklaces, earrings, rings and bracelets.
These four main types of jewellery dominate the category, but there are many other beautiful but lesser-used types of jewellery.
Trend Advice: Jewellery is more popular than ever (is that even possible?!) with social media interest growing by over 250% in 2020 according to Vogue France.
Let’s take a more detailed look at each type of jewellery!
Vogue states that earrings are the most popular types of jewellery.
Earrings are evergreen and have retained their popularity year upon year for thousands of years.
There are some 8 to 10 main types of earrings, all of which have their own distinctive characteristics and suitability for varying days or events.
- For casual wear, it’s hard to beat simple stud earrings which can be small and subtle or much larger with big gemstones, resin or colourful zirconia.
- English lock and lever back earrings are slightly larger and can make more of a statement when combined with brighter stones or other bold designs.
- Huggie earrings are small hoops, hoop earrings are larger - the perfect party piece but also excellent for days and nights out. The bigger the hoop, the bigger the party
- For classier looks, e.g. evening wear, dates or just when you feel like getting your special earrings out, teardrop, dangles, drops and chandeliers are the go-to.
Some beautiful dangly earrings:
Necklaces, where do we start?!
There’s tremendous diversity when it comes to necklaces. From multi-layered, art deco, chunky and other larger statement pieces to ultra-delicate single chains.
Like earrings, necklace styles rarely go completely out of trend and they make timeless additions to your fashion arsenal.
Trend Advice: Vogue found that ‘Pearls 2.0’, natural, raw pearls, as well as layered and bolder, XL necklaces were trending up in 2020.
Statement floral necklace:
Necklaces aren’t just categorised by style but also by chain length, when it comes to fine silver jewellery at least.
Chokers are the smallest, tightest type but lengths extend all the way up to lariat (rope) necklaces, which are long enough to circle the neck multiple times, almost like a scarf!
One original type of necklace you might not have considered is the backdrop necklace which hangs between the back shoulder blades rather than the front.
Humans have been wearing rings for thousands of years and they’ve become one of the most ceremonial and symbolic types of jewellery.
There’s something about keeping a ring on your finger - it’s a highly personal way to wear jewellery as you always catch sight of it throughout the day.
Rings all have one thing in common - they fit the finger. Therefore, there’s definitely fewer sizes and formats on offer compared to other jewellery.
Rings still vary hugely between larger, fancier rings, solitaire rings or stoneless metal or plastic rings.
Trend Advice: Vogue reported that 2020 online fashion trends signified a growing interest in layered rings, that is wearing more than 1 ring at once on each finger.
This mirrors trends towards layered necklaces too and the general feeling is that if you feel you can get away with it, you can really go crazy with your jewellery these days, if this is to your taste!
The fourth member of the four musketeers of jewellery - the bracelet.
Bracelets come in many different styles and formats ranging from simple, elegant chains to tennis bracelets, bangles and cuffs.
Bangles and cuffs are the chunkiest of the bracelets and they can certainly be amongst the most eye-catching. Elegant bracelets can incorporate gemstones or just use silver and gold chains.
Trend Advice: According to Cosmopolitan, statement bracelets are in trend alongside statement earrings, statement necklaces, statement rings and well, all statement jewellery really!
Of course, jewellery is often paired up or worn in sets.
Colour choice, as ever, is super-important as well. Mixing styles isn’t always a concern, though, there’s plenty of freedom for eclectic mash-ups of different jewellery in fashion today.
Anklets are bracelets for the ankle, as the name suggests. They’re perfect for summer wear, especially when wearing sandals or when barefoot at the beach, pool, etc.
Anklets are very popular in East Asia, but they’re on the rise in Europe, the UK and the US too.
There are quite a few urban myths or so-called ‘traditions’ associated with anklets, e.g, that wearing one on the left foot might mean you’re in an open relationship. Traditionally, though, anklets served a similar purpose to wedding rings.
In the end, there’s no point in overthinking the meaning of anklets. Anklets are really popular now and they’ve been worn by many major celebrities such as Jennifer Lopez here.
Whilst broaches might seem a bit old hat or dated, they still look great with the right outfits, usually formal or evening wear. But now, inspired by Kate Middleton, broaches and other vintage fine and costume jewellery are actually making a comeback.
Broaches are also fantastic for their ceremonial value and are and are often worn at weddings and other commemorative events.
Trend Advice: Broaches and fitted suits or shirtdresses make for a classy combination as rocked by the royals. Vogue Britain also says that they’re distinctly British.
Enamel pins are very much in fashion and you can find thousands of quirky and cool designs that can be attached to pretty much anything.
Bags covered in pins have always made a bit of a hippy or rock n’ roll-type statement and that hasn’t changed at all!
Pins come in all sorts of shapes and sizes ranging from witty slogans to popular icons and band logos. They’re inexpensive and can easily adorn vintage jackets and bags.
Trend Advice: Vogue discussed pins back in 2016 where they became a real phenomenon, but they’re still going strong today and were spotted on some top catwalk models in 2020.
Watches aren’t strictly jewellery, they’re more of a category of their own.
Many might associate watches with men more than women, but women were pivotal in turning the wristwatch into a fashion accessory as well as a timekeeper. At the time, men would still more frequently use pocket watches.
After women brought the wristwatch into fashion, fashion houses began to create more ornate and beautiful designs throughout the 1900s.
Today, there’s a huge diversity in watches and they can suit any and every occasion.
Of course, we can’t play down smartwatches either which are all but replacing classic watches for day-to-day use at least.
For other occasions, watches vary from smaller, subtle analogue designs to larger statement pieces with bigger bezels.
Trend Advice: Women’s watches are traditionally more subtle than male watches but models from Gucci, Rolex, Tommy Hilfiger and Michael Kors in 2020 certainly brought out a bigger, bolder, side to women’s watches.
Old-school and retro watches such as classics by Casio are also well and truly back in fashion.
Handbags, perhaps the most practical of all the fashion accessories!
Handbags have been around for some 200 to 300 years, back then they were called Reticules or Indispensables.
Today, handbags are an absolute fashion staple. They take so many forms and offer stunning diversity.
The most classic style of handbag has to be the leather handbag. Leather (both real and synthetic) has always been an excellent choice for handbag design to its toughness but soft and appealing touch. It’s also super-easy to craft into different shapes and stain in different colours.
Gorjus London's floral print shopper bag:
Handbags also differ in style, size or format, with shoulder bags being larger and easier to carry on one’s shoulder, backpacks for carrying on the back, satchels and also tote bags.
Trend Advice: In 2020, Vogue said that leather bags in ‘grown up’ darker colours such as brown, beige and black would never go out of trend.
Handbags are one of those fashion accessories where it’s seriously tough going to own just one. Different handbags suit different purposes but also, a mismatched handbag and outfit can feel like a bit of a clanger!
With so much choice on offer, though, choosing an awesome selection of handbags is usually easy (too easy!)
Handbags and purses have a close relationship. They related like big and little sisters - purses are pretty much a smaller iteration of the handbag, and both serve a similar purpose.
Purses may or may not be stored inside a handbag or other bag, they can be carried around as they are (popular for evening wear).
They provide yet another opportunity to embezzle and embellish your outfit and style.
Purses come in many different shapes and sizes ranging from small purses to medium and large purses.
With tons of colours and varying styles on offer, purses are generally super-easy to match up to your outfit and colour scheme.
Gorjus London's pink purse:
Trend Advice: Colour lovers are in luck this year with Who What Wear reporting that the brighter can be the better when it comes to purses.
But that’s not to say that traditional ‘grown up’ styles are going anywhere either.
Sunglasses are one of those fashion accessories that have a blatant practical use, and many use that as an excuse to buy more (because they’re useful, right?!)
Sunglasses weren’t stylish at all when they became more common in the 1800s. They just solved a practical problem of operating vehicles or other machinery in bright, sunny weather.
It’s only fairly recently that sunglasses have become a fashion accessory staple. In WW2, aviator sunglasses became synonymous with rugged American pilots. Films like Top Gun really propelled sunglasses to the top of the trends.
Now, sunglasses range from timeless Ray-Ban classics to the bold and iconic, statement sunglasses of Chanel.
In the last couple of years, sunglasses have gotten even crazier and tons of wacky shapes have come into fashion.
Sunglasses are just another fashion accessory where pretty much anything goes - they can be as outrageous as you dare to wear!
Scarves will always be super-popular in winter or colder weather for the simple fact that they do an awesome job of warming the neck.
They’re also excellent for protecting exposed necks from the wind and you can pretty much wear them all year round (in the UK anyway!)
Scarves range from super-chunky knitted scarves to very fine, smaller silk scarves. Chiffon is probably the most classy scarf material and can be printed with super-vivid colour prints.
Cashmere scarves are a firm favourite when warmth matters but you can’t beat wool once the colder months arrive. Pashmina is another lovely, soft but also warm scarf material.
The best thing about scarves is that they have a big surface area, enough space for some awesome prints. You can print pretty much anything on a scarf ranging from abstract, geometric or minimalist prints to full-blown artwork, landscape and animals and creatures.
Socks, Leggings and Stockings
Socks and leggings are part essential, part accessory. Like scarves, socks and stockings are essential for wrapping up in the cold, but also, similarly to scarves, they offer big spaces for designs and prints.
Stockings and tights are typically monotone colours; black, white, flesh tone or colours. Brightly coloured tights are a super-simple way to add colour to a black, white or grey outfit.
Mystical red tights and dress combo:
Tights and leggings also offer a myriad of awesome prints ranging from film and TV characters to animals, landscapes, artwork or numerous other patterns.
Trend Advice: InStyle found numerous examples of celebrities wearing statement or super-colourful and bold leggings and tights in 2020, including Dua Lipa’s crazy black and white leggings and J-Lo’s full blue tracksuit and leggings.
Usually worn with trousers or jeans or over dresses or loose clothing, belts are another essential fashion accessory.
Belts are pretty self-explanatory but there are a fair few different styles in the mix.
Belts are mostly categorised by size. In 2020, we saw more layered belts with dangling designs, but simple belts like the Gucci belt (that InStyle dubbed as ‘winning 2019’) are timeless.
The advantage of belts is that they can so effortlessly display a branded design, the most popular being LV, Gucci and Chanel, all of which have very iconic and instantly recognisable lettered logos.
Luggage fashion was extremely important in the 1960s and 70s as air travel skyrocketed in popularity.Designer luggage is now offered by all the major fashion houses but the Louis Vuitton Monogram luggage range is probably some of the most famous and easily recognisable luxury luggage in the world.
Footwear and shoes are usually defined as fashion accessories, not clothing.
The definition is a bit sketchy though, as there aren’t many occasions where footwear simply isn’t required other than at home, on holiday, by the beach, pool, etc.
Even so, if we do class footwear and shoes as a fashion accessory then this opens a whole new world of discussion!
There’s just so much in the world of footwear and shoes, and for many, shoes are fashion accessory number 1. In fact, Glamour estimates that the average woman spends $25,000 on shoes in her lifetime.
Another study put the figure at £35,000!
Ah, where do we start!
Trainers are optimised really for sport and wear for many hours at a time since they provide superb ankle and arch support.
Trainer trends in 2020 and 2021 are really pushing the boundaries with brand leaders such as Adidas and Nike still pushing their mixture of classic, retro and modern designs.
From Adidas 3-stripe trainers reminiscent of the 80s and 80s to Nike Air and Yeezys, there’s clearly something for everyone here!
Sandals and Sliders
2017 was the year of the slider but they’ve remained super hot to date and are set to continue as a simpler alternative to sandals or other open shoes.
Sliders are just so ridiculously easy to wear, and very comfy too. All your major brands released sliders in 2017 through to now and the selection is crazy.
Trend Advice: According to Cosmopolitan, sliders, vintage boots and platforms are going strong. Retro trainers are also topping the trends charts as far as casual footwear goes.
For something a little more permanent or sturdy, sandals are a top choice for open summer footwear. There’s loads of variation in sandals, but gladiator sandals are pretty hot right now.
Gladiator sandals and heels:
From stilettos to pumps, wedges, D’Orsay heels and so many other designs, heels are probably some of the most diverse fashion accessories on the face of the planet.
Heels have been worn by women and indeed men for thousands of years. They were a status symbol throughout medieval and antiquity Europe. As well as boosting the physical height of the wearer, they’d also keep people’s feet away from the dirty streets.
Today, high heels are an option rather than a necessity as numerous studies have warded off permanent wear of heels due to their health impacts, especially in the workplace. Still, many low heels are very comfortable to wear for long periods of time - it’s just especially high heels that you need to be aware of.
But still, heels remain the shoe that can elevate outfits to new levels.
Boots can have (and usually have) heels, but boots obviously encase the leg and tend to be cut some way up the calf.
Boots range from outdoors boots including Wellington boots to knee-high boots, Dr Marten’s or military-style boots or shorter ankle-high boots.
With excellent ankle support, boots look the part and offer something stylish and durable, ideal for the colder, wetter months.
Speaking of the colder, wetter months, gloves are another ubiquitous fashion accessory.
Gloves these days are usually associated with the colder seasons or winter sports, but they’re also used for formal and evening wear.
Evening gloves or opera gloves are typically made from thin silk, chiffon or rayon. They’ve been used as a social or formal status symbol for hundreds of years, both in Europe and also across Asia, especially Japan.
Evening gloves can really add that touch of elegance to evening wear and special occasions.
For all other glove usage, thick winter gloves come in all sorts of colours and patterns.
It’s 2021 - facemasks are now a definitive fashion accessory!
Facemasks need little introduction. Whilst, prior to 2020, you’d rarely see face masks in public across the UK (bar public transport in London), they’re now ubiquitous and aren’t going anywhere fast.
The standard drab blue surgical style masks were quickly replaced by designer and other custom-made options. Injecting some colour and passion into face masks is important and if we’re going to get fully used to them, they might as well look good!
Perfume has a long and illustrious history dating back thousands of years.
Humans have been harnessing beautiful scents from nature and applying them to our own bodies for a long time and perfume remains an evergreen fashion accessory that isn’t going anywhere.
Perfume today ranges from Parfum, the strongest type of perfume, to Eau de Parfum, Eau de Toilette, Eau de Cologne and Eau Fraiche.
There’s tons of diversity in perfume design and brands and whilst all your major fashion houses are represented, celebrities are also known for releasing their own perfume brands.
Hats are a wonderful fashion accessory that come in so many shapes, styles and sizes.
Some of the most well-known types of hats worn day-to-day include berets, Newsboy caps, Panama hats, Trilbys, Boaters, Fedoras, floppy hats and of course, baseball caps and beanies.
Plenty of niche hats are back in the vogue too, such as trapper hats, deerstalkers and even the classic bowler hat.
For formal or event-wear, fascinators are a go-to.
Hats are practical fashion accessories, excellent for keeping our heads warm or the sun, sea and sand out of the eyes.
This epic list of fashion accessories covers most of the main bases, but there will definitely be some we’ve missed!
Fashion accessories complete any outfit - they can transform you and your clothing.
Epic Fashion Accessory List Summary
This epic list of fashion accessories covers most of the main bases, but there will definitely be some we’ve missed!
Fashion accessories complete any outfit - they can transform you and your clothing.
Combining practicality with fashion and design, many fashion accessories like bags and purses are pretty much essential. Other accessories, such as jewellery, are there purely for style and statement - and that’s also great!
Like in all fashion, accessories come in and out of trend, but as it stands, there’s huge creative freedom for everything from minimalism and elegance to maximalist, statement or outlandish design.