Fashion accessories account for $19 billion of the fashion industry. Even with more women holding onto staple wardrobe pieces, they freshen up their style by buying new accessories.
Accessories move outfits from mere clothing into high fashion. A statement necklace elevates the little black dress. The right shoes define the mood of an ensemble.
Coco Chanel, the famous brand’s namesake, acknowledged the power of accessories. Her advice to remove one thing before leaving the house is as iconic as she is.
The key to choosing the right accessories is knowing your options. While the elements more or less remain the same, their finishes change as women’s fashion trends do.
Here’s a guide to the top 13 trending accessories today.
Footwear is becoming less demure and more combat-ready, perhaps a nod to the overall change in the climate of female empowerment. The latest shoe trend evokes Stormtroopers and ski boots.
Fashion houses like Gucci are releasing sneakers with thick, chunky soles in drab, understated colors. A strap encrusted with crystals snakes around the shoe. Celebrities like Mindy Kaling, who posted her Gucci gym shoes on Instagram, are fully onboard.
Kanye’s got Kim in flat-footed Yeezys. Meanwhile, Versace and Louis Vuitton have managed to make chic the suggestion of moon walking and mountain climbing.
The line between urban throwback and nursing home can be a fuzzy one, though. Some offerings look like they came straight out of Dr. Scholl’s orthopedic line.
2. Trash Bags
Grocery bag recycling is soaring to new heights.
Designers are playing up the high-contrast graphic nature of branded shopping bags to sell totes and clutches. Logos are in. Learn more about capitalizing on the logo accessories trend with branded enamel pins.
There’s a Ziploc clutch covered in Swarovski crystals. There’s a leather zip tote that looks like a garment bag.
There’s even a flour sack handbag that hearkens back to its history of being repurposed for fashion. Women during the Great Depression sewed aprons and dresses from their flour sacks.
Michael Kors and others will help you look like you’re always fresh from a shopping spree. And some runways featured models clutching handfuls of what looked like brightly colored grocery bags.
3. Hip Packs
Shooting from the hip has never been more popular. Bags worn around the waist are trendy and practical.
The humble fanny pack was already on its way back in. Trendsetting Japanese kids have been wearing the summer accessory en masse. Configured traditionally, backward, or crossbody style, the 90s staple is fully revived.
Belt bags take it one step further. Made out of leather and quilted, braided, or branded, belt bags take the burden from your shoulder and make it hands-free. They also double as actual belts for accenting suit pants or cinching trenches.
4. Working Class Caps
Baker boy hats and newsboy caps borrow the fashion of the hard-working, newspaper-shilling grammar school boys from the 1920s. Women have jumped on the face-framing accessories trend that makes the most of third-day hair.
As compulsory hat wearing has faded from common practice, finishing your outfit with even a casual hat looks immediately put together. The flat-topped, brimmed baker boy cap is easy to wear and effortlessly cool.
It’s available in a variety of materials, including leather, canvas, and wool for the winter. The menswear-inspired women’s fashion trend ranges from the affordable to the luxurious.
5. Blackberry Berets
While Prince appreciated a girl in raspberry, the black beret is what’s trending now. The French classic has adorned the likes of Jackie Kennedy Onassis and, iconically, Brigitte Bardot.
Today’s berets are more structured, less slouchy. Leather gives it a punchy toughness. Wool and felt complement the timeless silhouette.
To wear your beret with a modern freshness, don’t tilt it to one side. Keep it centered and pushed up on your forehead to avoid looking like a Downton Abbey cook.
6. Stand Up Shoes
The standards for soles have become incredibly high, and we’re not talking manufacturing or durability. Extreme platform shoes are having their day in the spotlight. Get the height without the heel.
With the introduction of lightweight, high-density foam, platforms are easier to wear than their heavy 1970s counterparts. Imagine the dancing John Travolta could have done if his feet weren’t weighing him down.
Sandals, loafers, boots, and pumps are getting the elevation treatment. Wear a pair for every season you can before the trend vanishes again like disco.
Emeralds, rubies, and sapphires are making their way out of the jewelry box and onto the runway. Trendy jewel-tones are adding a sense of sophistication to textiles and home design alike.
Pairing jewel-tones with velvet takes it to a new level. Velvet shoes can’t help but say luxury.
Offset the rich saturation with a bright splash of color. Or make them pop with a background of black and white.
You can even mix and match jewel-tones with great results. A pair of sapphire shoes and an emerald jacket play off each other beautifully.
At the exact opposite end of the spectrum are transparent shoes and bags. Like lucite chairs reduce visual clutter, a clear Helmut Lang briefcase adds interest without weighing down your look.
Clear heels get the close-toed treatment with dark leather accents. Black oxfords lighten up with see-through sides. Grown-up jelly sandals have pearl embellishments.
Clear plastic purses look like cellophane candy wrappers and reveal everything inside. It’s the perfect chance to show off your beautiful wallets and fun patterned cell phone cases.
Some designers have combined transparency with the grocery bag trend. One tote even highlighted discarded airport luggage tags. Others have paired it with black, leather handles, and industrial exposed grommets.
9. Hats for Every Occasion
For some, hats have never gone out of style. For everyone else, hats are back with a vengeance. Form meets function, accessorizing your outfit while providing shelter from the weather.
Enormous rattan beach hats balloon over their wearer’s shoulders or fold back on themselves in the style of a nun’s habit. They’re so large, they can double as bathing suit cover-ups.
Sporty bucket hats have neon pink clips to make you a bright spot on a drizzly day. Other rain hats have frilled brims.
There are whitewashed colonial straw hats with camel leather patches. A fringy, tweed hat goes with your tweed suit. Oversize cowboy hats have to be at least 20 gallons worth.
Chanel has tackled two trends at once with their transparent fedora.
10. Crossbodies Cut Short
The functional crossbody bag got a bit of a makeover. The straps are cinched tight, moving your bag up off your hip to your torso like a shoulder holster. You can convert any of your strapped bags simply by fastening the strap as short as it goes.
Short strap crossbody bags range from the athletic, bright leather and text details, to the formal, black velvet with metal chains. They’re eminently practical with everything within view and within arm’s reach.
11. Shrinking Sunglasses
Now that oversized sunglasses have grown so big they were almost novelty items, they’ve begun their shrinking spiral. Micro sunglasses have every influencer on Instagram looking like she’s reached for her readers.
Futuristic, angular cat eyes give you back the real estate on your face and flatter cheekbones and brows. There are also sporty wraparounds with neon frames. Reflective lenses bring the Matrix back into focus, and black uni-lenses borrow from Star Trek.
12. Shifting Shapes for Purses
Purses are trading in their traditional shape for something more ambitious. Designers have gotten creative with their materials. Folding, stitching, molding, and weaving provide new avenues for handbags.
Folded leather adds a touch of geometry to a standard satchel. Grab an origami, tufted poof for Spring. Rhinestone fringe drips from a spherical ball purse.
Animal skins complement a diminutive clamshell. There’s a half moon with hoop handles, a piecework sewn star, a modified bowling bag with fluid lines, and even an interlocking cube.
13. Scarf Versatility
Scarves have long been the way to add something unexpected to your ensemble. A welcome infusion of color and pattern, they’re inherently versatile. Now they’re the top accessory for your accessories.
Replace your purse strap with a graphic black and white scarf to morph a handbag into a crossbody. Or braid it around the handle to take a temporary fashion risk.
Tuck a scarf in your bag or lace it through a couple of belt loops for instant, wispy style. Wrap a scarf around your ankle to fake a strappy shoe.
Even tying scarves in their traditional places has modern versatility. Women are wearing headscarves again for added warmth and flair. They’re knotting neckerchiefs again, but this time with athletic windbreakers.
How Will You Keep up with Today’s Trending Accessories?
Designers this season are playing with scale and materials. Classics rendered in unexpected colors or finishes are the latest trending accessories. Purses, sunglasses, and shoes got shorter, smaller, and more ephemeral.
Are you trying to keep up with other fashion trends? Check out our Style section to know what’s going on with shoes, gifts, and active wear. We’ve even got how-to guides to help you wear whatever accessories you’ve added to your closet.