How to Build an Outfit Around an Accesory, Namely a Fascinator

Kathi Burns wardrobes a fascinator in time for Hat Day

“I have my fascinator and nothing to wear!” This was the comment from a friend just a few days before Opening Day at the Del Mar Races. Loving a good challenge, I knew this would be a fun assignment!

For those of you wondering what a fascinator is, it is a delicate headpiece typically worn off to one side of your head and secured by either a comb, clip or headband.

As you can see from this photo, the neutral colored fascinator, that was to be the base for an entire outfit, was lovely. It included the three common elements of most respectable fascinators; feathers, beading and flowers.

So, off we went to the mall with only a two hour window to pull together an entire outfit. My goal was to create a perfect outfit that included a cocktail dress, shoes, jewelry and wrap which would make the headpiece pop and sizzle.

The perfect dress needed to be simple so as not to overwhelm the fascinator but also classic, lightweight and without a lot of sparkle since it was for a summer daytime event. I was able to pull a classic sheath dress that was   tucked and fitted with perfect pleating in all of the right places to show off her curves. It included a floral print which gave a design nod to the flower in the headpiece. This dress was simple but curvaceous and cut at classic knee length once we adjusted the hem up an inch.

Once the dress was selected (with a few minor alterations pinned) I was able to focus on the other missing pieces. Beginning with shoes in mind,  I wanted to pop one of the bright colors in the dress pattern and searched for either blue, purple or magenta. The platforms found were ideal as they matched the fuschia/ magenta within the dress. They also added texture and interest because they were suede.

Stylist Kathi Burns, chooses the perfect cocktail dress for race day

Many women would not choose suede shoes for a summer outfit even if they did include a peep toe, as these do. I loved the suede because I always include the three elements of color, texture and shine in each outfit I create. Including all three elements is a subtle but telling statement that the entire outfit is intentional. Because I wanted a bit more texture, suede was the perfect choice for this outfit! If you begin to look closely at well-put together women in passing, you will see that all, or most, of them have coordinated all three elements of color, texture and shine in their outfit.

Amazingly, we were able to locate a nice lightweight wrap in the same color as the shoes. Having these colors match, along with higher heels, elongated the stature of this woman. The fuschias on both ends of her stature created a vertical line which elongated her figure. I also suggested that she wear her wrap vertically over her shoulder when it was not in use, to avoid a horizontal cut across her frame. Unless we are over 6 feet tall and need to gain weight, all of us benefit from a longer visual line!

After finding shoes and wrap,  the only big missing element was shine. It is sometimes easy to add shine with necklace or earrings. I was immediately drawn to a large floral statement necklace with a bit of rhinestone bling that worked with the outfit but was perhaps too much of a statement for my friend. Later, I selected a double strand of ‘freshwater inspired’ costume pearls that were in the same color family as the beading on the headdress.  Add in a pair of double drop earrings and the outfit was nearing completion but still asking for a bit more of the ‘shine’ element.

The shine element was finally complete when my fabulous store helper shows up with this gorgeous satin bag, amazingly in the same color family as the fascinator, and on sale!

It is always fascinating and invigorating when I can pull together the ideal outfit within a small window of time. It seems the universe always provides when a clear intention is set. As my client, who is truly a magnificent manifestor said, 20 minutes into our appointment with only two possible dress options, “I know it will work out for me because it always does.”

Stylist Kathi Burns selects the perfect cocktail dress for her client

Here she is with her husband just before they are out the door for a day at the races. We put the entire outfit together in just over one hour! Don’t they both look fab?!

If you are wondering how to manifest great things like this in your life with less effort, check out this website: Mind Movies. It is created by the couple pictured above and is a new innovative and fun way to create vision boards for your dreams and goals. It combines audio, video and affirmations and can play in the background of your computer throughout your day to help you create the life of your dreams.


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4 Responses to How to Build an Outfit Around an Accesory, Namely a Fascinator

  1. Maureen says:

    loved how you pulled it all together.
    Love especially the dress – the print not too overwhelming – and the shoes and wrap same hue.
    Which maker makes this dress?
    I would love to get a dress like this
    I live in NJ – a 1-1/2 hr. outside NYC
    Thanks – your hints always helpful

    • Kathi Burns says:

      The dress was from Nordstrom and purchased last year in the spring. I dont remember the designer name but it was at a very reasonable price and was found in the regular dress department, not the couture section.

      Good luck on your search!

  2. Maureen says:

    loved the dress, wrap and shoes.
    Would love to get a dress like this – who makes this dress, please?
    enjoy your helpful hints – thanks

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