Reader Request: Constant Pieces


Esti said:

I’d love to see you post on how to incorporate constant pieces (be they ink, wedding bands, or friendship bracelets) into personal style.

I’ve had many people ask me if I give thought to matching my outfits to my visible tattoos and honestly? I don’t. Ever. It’s great when the ink is harmonious with the ensemble, but when they clash I’m never fussed. My tattoos are like part of my skin and I often don’t even see them. Which is, perhaps, careless because I DO give thought to how clothing plays off my skin, eye, and hair color. Why not the visible body art? My only real answer is that my tattoos are among the most emotional of my aesthetic expressions, and I don’t want to limit their color palette based on my dressing preferences. And I wouldn’t be comfortable telling anyone that dressing to match her tattoos should be a stylistic priority.

My engagement ring has a sapphire as well as several small diamonds and, initially, I felt odd about having a colored stone as a constant. But, again, it’s an intensely emotional piece for me and its personal value outweighs its matching potential. I haven’t given it a single thought in years.

I think that the importance of matching constant pieces to your overall look comes down to personal preference. Naturally, an adornment that will be on your person at all times will get long and careful consideration, so it will mesh well with your overall personal style. If you know that you’ll fret constantly about tattoos, rings, bracelets, or piercings that don’t work with your clothing choices, do your best to select neutral tones and classic shapes. But since so many of those things are deeply, deeply significant on personal and emotional levels, feel free to go with your gut. In my humble opinion, adornments with symbolic value shouldn’t be confined by matters of matching.

Image courtesy chriswsn.

Originally posted 2011-01-07 06:18:59.

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24 Responses to “Reader Request: Constant Pieces”

  1. Jingle Bella

    I agree – I think that such with such personal things you shouldn’t feel that you have to match. The only one that applies to me is wedding rings – I think if I were to get a tattoo I would consider the placement with regard to clothes (do I want to be able to cover this up?) but not the colouring / symbol.

    The one way in which my wedding set affects what I wear is that although I quite like glitzy costume-jewellery cocktail rings, I wouldn’t wear them on my left hand because having them next to my (very small but real) engagement ring makes both look odd. But all that means is I’d wear costume jewellery on my right hand.

  2. EE K

    I wear the same watch, rings and bracelets everyday. Like you, I have an emotional attachment to them and regard them as part of me, not necessarily part of my style. That said, they are pretty timeless so won’t clash with anything either.

  3. Stacey

    I agree with you, my constant jewelery and tattoos are a second skin to me and I do not give them a second thought.
    BTW, I think a sapphire in your engagement ring is fab!! I would love a diamond and citrine or yellow diamond wedding set.

  4. EvaNadine

    i have 2 tattoos, but they are both on my back, so i dont see them often. one is in a place that will never show (unless im wearing a bikini or half-shirt) and the other is on my shoulder — i place i can easily cover if needed or show if desire. so for me, the tattoos arent something im concerned about.

    for me, i am still getting used to accessorizing with me engagement and wedding rings. i love every last thing about my engagement ring, and wouldnt change it for anything in the world.
    that said, it is a bit of a statement piece, and i havent gotten to the point yet where i am blind to it. also, i quite figured out how to accessorize in harmony with it. necklaces are usually a no-brainer, as are earrings. but sometimes i have difficulty with pieces that fall closer to them — occasionally bracelets, and most often other rings.

    i suppose that as time goes by and im no longer a newlywed (and thus i have been wearing my wedding set longer) it will become easier for me to sort of “ignore” my rings when dressing and accessorizing, but for now im glad im not blind to them — they are absolutely gorgeous and i love them (and my husband!) dearly. like you, the emotional reasons for wearing them far outweigh and restrictions they/i may place on the fashion possibilities.

  5. Jen

    I have a few items that are always on my person (engagement/wedding rings, diamond solitare earrings, grandmother’s engagement ring) and a few I wear most of the time (solitare necklace and charm bracelet). I never take into account how they play into my fashion choices, other than with the necklace or bracelet because I do swap those out occasionaly for statement pieces. I strongly feel that if a piece of jewlery/body art is that much a part of your idea of self, it shouldn’t be a fashion decision. If it were, then you’d have to take your freckles into account, or wrinkles!

  6. Milly

    Interesting one this. I, like you Sal have tattoos and I find that I try and show the easily visible one in my pics as often as I can because I do see it as part of my everyday accessory or as you so well termed it ‘constant pieces’. Also, being married I am more often than not wearing both my engagement and wedding ring but if for some reason I am not in the pic, then I will mention it.

    This is something I would like to think about some more so I hope you don’t mind if I refer to your post on my blog when that day comes 🙂

  7. Ketura, The Wardrobe Workshop

    I remember when I was getting married, I had more trouble thinking about wearing one ring forever than being with one man forever! And it turns out … nearly 15 years later we are still married, but I have 3 wedding rings I switch around. I never got a big-stone engagement ring and I guess it’s probably for the best, because I like wearing a simple gold band the best, and that’s what I wear 99% of the time. I actually love how it looks with bigger, bolder jewelry, silver, whatever. Body art is more permanent than a ring! 🙂

  8. Anne

    The only constant piece I have that I wear all the time is a claddaugh ring that my boyfriend bought me in Ireland. It’s on my right hand since we’re dating, and I won’t wear any other jewelry on my right hand. I wear the same watch and diamond studs most of the time, but I don’t have as much of a problem swapping those out. They’re all pretty simple pieces, and all silver which is what I typically wear anyway, so they don’t really interfere with my style. Even if they did, I wouldn’t really think much of it because I’m so used to wearing them.

  9. Cara

    Before we were engaged, my now-fiancé bought me a bracelet. Unfortunately, I have baby sized wrists, and it couldn’t be sized down small enough. Instead, we picked out a “bracelet for my finger” (since “ring” seemed to be way too important of a term form him at the time). It was a gorgeous sapphire ring, and I wore it daily. A year later, we got engaged, and he gave me a gorgeous diamond solitaire. For the first three months I wore it, however, it just seemed so strange: I couldn’t look at my hand without missing the colour of the sapphire ring that had previously been a constant piece! I still pull the sapphire ring out from time to time, and fall in love with it over again because of the colour! I found it amusing that you were a little concerned over the lack of colour of your sapphire engagement ring while I was so caught off guard by the lack of colour in my diamond engagement ring!

  10. erindyan

    “Did you consider how your rings, tattoos, or other constant pieces would work within your overall style?”

    Nope! Never a second though. I also wear a sapphire ring every day, and I never think about if something “goes with” my tattoos. It would be SO limiting. And I kind of hate limits.

  11. kpriss

    Interesting. I actually never thought about matching my tattoos and my outfits. Maybe because they’re classic black? And you know, black goes with anything?

    As far as my wedding ring goes (and my earrings, which I previously confessed – never go off), I really never, ever thought about when dressing up (or down). It’s just there, part of who I am. As well as for my Husband’s – though I’m absolutely loving the way his big, powerful hands look with a wedding ring on – we never saw about the actual wedding ring as an accessory. It’s more of a statement, a personal, intimate one. So yeah, dressing up or down or whatever goes way beyond my permanents. (in case you’re wondering – the earrings are just tiny silver round studs – I promised myself one day I’ll get either the same in white gold, to match the wedding ring, or pearls. What should it be?)

  12. Rebecca

    I used to be really concerned about my jewelry matching my engagement and wedding rings, but I’ve gotten over that. It got pretty boring to only wear silver accessories, and they don’t match with everything.

  13. futurelint

    I have rings I wear everyday but I don’t wear them to work (too annoying with the constant handwashing and on/off of examination gloves) so they don’t often appear in my outfit posts. I also wear the same 4 earrings every day and my nose ring. They are such a part of me that I don’t even think about them or matching them to other jewelry or outfits. I’m about to get my first REALLY constantly visible tattoo and it is something I thought about, and have decided that I want to do it and it won’t affect my outfit choices (even though it’s going to be red). Besides, EVERY outfit looks better with a pop of red IMO.

  14. Angela

    I have rings on both hands and three bracelets that I wear everyday. But my “signature” piece is the gele (say geh-lay). I wear a headwrap everyday, no matter the outfit. It’s usually printed and doesn’t necessarily match, but somehow it always coordinates with my daily outfit.

  15. JJ

    My engagement ring is platinum with a sapphire, plus a bit of gold setting that holds some very small diamonds. My wedding band is very simple white gold. My taste runs toward the unusual, so my husband made a good call when he had my engagement ring made with a sapphire as the signature stone. I love the color of blue, and I’ve never thought it clashed with anything I wore. It’s just a part of me now. I don’t wear any other rings on my left hand because I prefer large rings and they tend to overpower my wedding/engagement rings.

    I’ve never been big on mixing metals — gold with silver, etc. — so I need to push myself back out of this comfort zone. These days I wear silver about 98% of the time, and I have some lovely gold pieces that were my mother’s, as well as some cool stuff I wore many years ago that’s been languishing in the jewelry box. Good thing one of my goals in the new year is to find new life for some of my old clothing and accessories!

  16. Courtney

    I honestly have never really thought about matching my outfits to my rings or my tattoos. Although, my wedding set is pretty traditional (white gold and diamonds) and my only visible tattoo is black ink, so pretty much everything “goes” with it. I find it an interesting concept to think about “matching” your tattoos to your wardrobe.

  17. joann, sidewalk chic

    The only piece of jewelry I wear everyday is my engagement ring, for emotional purposes. But for a really long time, I wasn’t much of a jewelry person (I’m still not!) and am just now getting used to wearing necklaces, bracelets, etc. every other day.

    I have been debating for years to get a tattoo, and the one thing I’ve been pondering on for forever is placement. I am still in school and I think that for future professional life purposes, I’d like to have it in a place that isn’t easily noticeable.

  18. Rachel K

    I have 3 total tattoos and its never crossed my mind to match them to anything. The one on my stomach is a replica of part of a paintingmy sister painted on my bedroom wall when we were teens (we were these bohemian surf chicks back then) and it no one sees it except my husband, though when I was 18-ish…..that was the days of the short shirt, the dreaded mid-late 90’s. The other 2 are on the bottom inside of my
    heal, on each foot, and I completely forget that they sometimes show. My company owner noticed them a few weeks back, said”…I didn’t know you had tattoos!” in a very surprised way….I didn’t even realize that the pumps I was wearing showed the tats. They are so much a part of me that most of the time I’m not conscience of them.

    I have two rings that i never take off – well, when my hands are in water I do, my 2nd set of wedding ring is a little loose. When we got married 8 years ago we could not afford an expensive ring so my then-to-be husband had a beautiful gold nugget ring of his sized down to fit me. It was a sz 11, they took it all the way down to a sz 4 and made a beautiful, unique wedding ring for me, it even has 3 small diamonds. It is more special to me than my second, more traditional set of wedding rings that we purchased a year or so later. But I wear both at pretty much all times, the traditional set on my L ring finger and the original on my R ring finger. Even if I’m wearing silver everywhere else. I feel like something is missing if I don’t have them in, like my fingers are naked! I don’t care if they match my outfit or not, it’s not an option to go without them.

  19. vampfan30

    little slow to responding to this post, but better late than never! As one who doesn’t wear much jewelry, but is married I always at least wear my band, which is gold. If I go out, then I add my simple solitaire. I have a few silver rings that are clunky & I love them to death.
    Also, as a tattooed woman – I don’t ever think of matching anything to them since they are just black and/or shaded. But, I do tend to dress around them in the summertime here in Florida. I have two on my ankles & A huge piece on my back, it literally takes up the entire upper part of my back & shoulders. I like to find tanks that show it off, but I don’t do it on a regular basis.


  20. Erin H.

    I will admit to being one of those crazy metal-matching maniacs. My wedding set is white gold, which wasn’t a problem at first because I only ever wore silver jewelry. Recently I’ve added (and been given) more yellow gold/brass items to my jewelry collection, though, and it did bug me to feel mismatched when I wore them.

    My husband, understanding my neuroses and being the considerate sort that he is, gave me a lovely gold ring for our anniversary this year. So now I can switch out my rings to match whatever jewelry I’m wearing, and either way I’m wearing a ring that has sentimental value to me.

  21. Kelly

    I think the beauty of constant pieces is that you don’t really have to match them to anything else in your outfit. I mean, after a while you stop “seeing” them and so does everyone else around you. They’re a part of you now as much as your hair or your moles or your scars are.

    Although the exact piece(s) have changed over the years, I’ve almost always had a “constant” piece. Right now it’s the three stacker rings that have been on my left hand middle finger for a couple years. I’ve probably only taken them off about 5 times total, and only for a couple hours at a time, so I don’t even think about them anymore. Every once in a while I’ll “realize” that they’re there and it catches me off guard.

    Also, less awesome, is that I always have a hair band around my wrist. I don’t ever notice it, which gets a little embarrassing when I’m at a wedding or something and suddenly realize that while I was getting all glammed up, I neglected to take that tacky thing off my arm!