How to Determine What Earrings Match Your Formal Outfit

These might work for daytime, but would they cut it for a night out?
These might work for daytime, but would they cut it for a night out? (Image:

No formal attire is complete without complementary jewelry. One of the most popular jewelry options, especially when it comes to dressing up, is earrings. Though they're great to wear for a night on the town, it can sometimes be difficult to pick the perfect pair that matches--but doesn't upstage--your ensemble.

Things You'll Need

  • Mirror
  • Formal outfit
  • Earrings

Determine how formal the event you're attending will be. Is it a cocktail party? The opera? A fund-raising event that costs $1,500 a plate? Reread your invitation or any supplemental information on the event to gather clues on its formality. Look for key words like "black tie," "suit jacket" or "dress code enforced."

Pick out your ensemble and determine how to wear your hair, again, paying attention to the formality, assumed atmosphere and personality of the crowd at the event.

Wear studs with gems or pearls if you plan to wear a busy dress that has lots of ruffles, lace, beading, sequins, crystals or a large pattern. Many couture dresses are created with these features, in which case it is better to let the dress make the statement rather than the accessories. Studs also work well if you are wearing your hair in a more formal updo. Long or large earrings with a tight updo can make you look like a princess or prom date.

Wear gold or silver hoops if the event appears to be a bit more on the casual or light-hearted side. Hoops work well with the always-fashionable little black dress, or any cocktail dress, for that matter. Instead of going with really large hoops, it's better to go with medium-size double or triple hoops (hoops that have one or two hoops within the outer hoop). To add a little more dazzle to your outfit you could go with textured hoops or, if you can afford it, hoops that have pavé diamonds all the way around them. Another alternative would be a dangling hoop, in which the hoop doesn't actually go through your ear but hangs from wire hooks.

Wear chandelier earrings if you have a casual, messy or shabby-chic-looking updo. These look the best in silver or black, as their design calls enough attention to them without the element of color. Chandeliers also complement bare shoulders or clavicles very well, so consider them if you're planning to wear a strapless or halter-style dress.

Wear line earrings if you need to minimize your accessories due to your outfit or hairstyle but don't much care for studs. Line earrings also elongate your neck and, thus, pair nicely with an updo. The beauty of line earrings is that they're understated, so you can pair them with virtually any outfit, you just have to determine the right length for you.

Hold up the earrings you're thinking of wearing to your ears and look in a mirror once your ensemble and hairdo are complete. Determine whether they work well with the rest of your look. If you're unsure, ask a friend or family member for her opinion. Continue this process until you find the pair that suits you perfectly.

Tips & Warnings

  • Fashion can be fickle, as style is regional and trends come and go easily. Make sure to exercise the same advice with earrings as you would with making any fashion-oriented decision, and that is do what works best for you. No one has to follow every style rule or trend, and the most important thing is that you feel comfortable and confident in your own skin (and earrings).
  • Whatever earrings you choose, make sure that they are comfortable in your ears. Many people have sensitive ears and can wear only sterling-silver-quality earrings or better. Also be sure that the earring fits comfortably in your ear and that it's not so heavy that it tugs on your lobes.

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