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Hot Look: How to Pair & Layer Mismatched Jewelry

Studio 5 Beauty & Style Contributor Holly Stone shares some guidelines.

Jewelry is worn for many different reasons: to accessorize an outfit, as an extension of a personality, mood or lifestyle, or even as a memory. In fashion, typically most women feel comfortable if their outfits match whether in color, style, print or fabric. And often times, this translates even in our jewelry and we feel compelled to match from head to toe.

Breaking out of a matching rut can be challenging. The BEST place to start experimenting outside of the matching world is in jewelry. Mixing costume jewelry is all about whimsy. Boho has no rhyme or reason; it just makes sense because it was intended to be random. By thinking playful, you give yourself freedom to contrast textures, designs, styles, time periods and colors. The result? A unique use of your accessories and an artistic change to your appearance. Baby steps stimulate the confidence to take larger steps in other areas.


When mixing jewelry for layered effect, remember opposites do attract: small and large, bold and subtle, stiff and fluid, old and new, bright and dull. The beauty of an opposite is that each shows the uniqueness of the other.

1) Don’t Match – MIX

Earthy wooden beads, mother-of-pearl, crystal, rose quartz, clay, glass, leather, ribbon, and flowers this organic combination creates a magical mixture of elements. Don’t match ‘em up, just put on what you feel like and embrace the random!

Mix silver and gold, gunmetal and bronze, copper and pewter. This gives a yin-yang balance (feminine/masculine) and works on any skin type at any age. If one metal dominates visually, make sure that it is in temperature harmony with your outfit. For example: warm metals=gold, bronze, copper cool metals=silver, pewter, gunmetal.

2) Re-peat geometric shape or design, metal or color to synergize mismatched pieces.

If you have a necklace but no matching earrings, it is ok! Choose a pair of earrings in a complementary metal that mirror 1 element of the necklace, from a shape or element within the design, to a color of stone or just to the color of metal. It doesn’t have to look like a set, but by finding one common element, you create a harmonious bridge.


1 -large-to-2-small ratio

When wearing multiple pieces, support the large piece by paring with 2 smaller pieces. Odd numbers seem less deliberate and more artistic. Pair a cuff with bangles or beads or charms.

Mix solid bangles with free flowing chains.

The movement on your arm creates not only a pleasing sound, but an interesting artistic combo. The solid and fluid effect signifies creativity and flexibility.


Bold and Subtle

Pair delicate chains with chunky beads at different lengths. Or try a long, small strand of simple beads and a chain with a large pendant or bead at the neckline. As long as there is a distinct visual difference between the bold and the subtle, this look pulls off a chic style.

Long and Short

Make sure that there is enough distance in the lengths so that each complements the other. Wear one necklace at your décolleté area and another that goes down to your rib cage or below. If multiple strands appear too similar in length, it appears very competitive and looks like you have too much jewelry on. Stagger the lengths and vary the bead/chain sizes.

Pins & Broaches

Cluster a small group of pins together to create a constellation look. Pin groups can be similar color, era, and theme or use them to create a story. Wear pins on page boy caps, scarves tied at waist as belt, on your denim at pockets or on high thigh, on pockets of jeans, or the pocket of a blazer or coat. Pins can even used as hair jewels when attached with a bobby pin. Combine a pin with a chain and have it hang as a charm. Or put it on chain at the neckline to create a pendant.

Bonus Tips:

Jewelry colors should compliment or contrast with each other – but not clash. One bold color mixed or supported with understated colors. Complimentary and contrasting colors can be found looking on a color wheel. When mixing random colors, following complimentary or contrasting color rules results in a more flattering combination.

Either clothing color should be bold OR jewelry color should be bold but never both!

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