Making the right statement

Jewellery can breathe life into the plainest of suits and help an outfit transition from day to night. The trick is knowing how to spice up an outfit without going too far.

Image consultant Annalisa Armitage's mantra when it comes to jewellery is “keep it simple”.

“Whether that be glasses or rings or necklaces, first of all, there shouldn't be any more than one focal point,” Armitage said.

She has worked with women from the likes of Ernst and Young, Westpac and CBA, helping them dress better for their particular roles and workplaces.

“First impressions are one thing and what people then like to do is find any kind of action that proves their first impression was right,” she said.

“You can change an impression over time but it is easier to get it right first. The outer image has got to match what that person's abilities are.”

Shine Communications owner Sue Currie consults with mid-range companies on impression management and corporate branding. She concurs with Armitage's motto of simplicity.

“I advise people it's quality rather than quantity,” Currie said.

“Investment dressing includes investment accessories. Find a couple of good quality pieces that will last for years.”

Materials that get her tick of approval are white gold, good quality silver, pearls, good stones and jade. Chokers are a no no.

On Armitage's banned list are wooden beads (too earthy), headbands (too Alice in Wonderland), long necklaces (too formal for work and can draw the eye to the chest area) and bangles (too noisy).

“The glasses you wear to work, people shouldn't even notice,” Armitage said. “Avoid the bling if you want to be taken seriously and have credibility.”

“It [the jewellery] needs to co-ordinate quite well with the rest of the outfit. Do something in silver, gold, rose gold or some kind of metal.”

Corporate women who Currie believes get it right include Julia Ross, founder and managing director of recruitment firm RossJuliaRoss, and Diana Williams, founder and chairman of Fernwood gyms.

“She [Julia Ross] keeps it quite simple and wears quality pieces,” she said.

“Someone who does it well but in a different way is Diana Williams. She often wears a statement piece like big pearls or a nice neckpiece. It is not overstated, it is not too over the top. She will wear it well because she will wear a very classic suit with it.”

She recommends women spend 30 per cent of their work wardrobe budget on accessories – shoes, bags, belts and jewellery. You may not have that Omega or Raymond Weil watch from day one, but buy the best that you can afford and upgrade as your salary increases, she advises.

“You can build up a jewellery collection over time,” she said. “They will last you a lot longer than clothes.”

Tips from the experts

* Necklaces are about accentuating the face. Try to draw attention up to your face rather than down to your chest.

* Avoid jewellery that is too dangly or intrusive.

* If your ears are pierced, make sure you wear earrings; otherwise your outfit can appear unfinished.

*Have only one focal point. If you are wearing a striking necklace, wear simple studs in your ears and vice versa.

*Cuff links are a good way to add some individuality and colour to an outfit but avoid sparkles for during the day.