How to accessorize a floral dress for any occasion

Girl wearing a floral dress with a bold print and asymmetrical neckline.
Close up photo of girl's hands wearing a floral print dress
Girl wearing a floral dress with a bold print and asymmetrical neckline.
Girl wearing a floral dress with a bold print and asymmetrical neckline.
Girl looking over her shoulder wearing a floral dress with a bold print and asymmetrical neckline.
Girl wearing a floral dress with a bold print and asymmetrical neckline.
Girl wearing a floral dress with a bold print and asymmetrical neckline.
Girl wearing a floral dress with a bold print and asymmetrical neckline.

It might not be ground breaking, but when it comes to classic prints it’s hard to beat a floral dress (speaking of classics, I’m sure I don’t need to tell you the movie reference for the introduction). A runner up to a classic black dress, they are one of those timeless, fail safe options which, with a few simple accessories, will see you through most events. As you know, I’m a fan of re-styling items you already own and I love how accessories allow you to style the same dress in multiple ways while giving it a different feel and vibe. Below I share some of my favourite tips for accessorising a floral dress for your next event.

Sydney’s warmer weather and slow transition out of the hibernation following a winter of lockdown has got me excited to dress up again, and it’s been so nice to head out for my first post lock down adventures this weekend. I can’t help feeling that I’m not alone in looking forward to substituting my sweat pants and mix matched jumper attire for something more glamorous as we all start to venture out into the “new normal” of the strange topsy turvy covid-19 world we’re living in. Now that the restrictions are slowly starting to ease and the social calendar beginning to fill (especially in the lead up to festive season) it’s been exciting to greet all my spring dresses again. However, floral dresses are not just for your spring, summer events and, below I also share some tips on accessorising these prints for fall and winter.

1. Consider the floral print (bold florals versus small, scattered florals)

When it considering how to accessorise a floral dress it’s important to consider the fabric’s print. Floral dresses generally come in two types of prints; bold and statement prints (ie this dress) or a smaller, scattered floral prints (for example, like this floral dress). If you choose a bolder floral print you may want to pair the accessories down letting the floral print steal the show. I feel that floral dresses with a small, scattered floral prints blend together and are more forgiving if you want add a statement accessory.

2. Neutral accessories

Neutrals are one of my favourite ways to accessorise any outfit, and florals are no exception. I love how they suit most styles, are classic and give printed fabrics a minimalist, streamlined feel.  If you’re petite, you could consider neutral heels or pumps, as I have here, which elongates the leg. Neutral accessories can be a great way to style a floral dress for the office or as a guest to a wedding if you’re looking for a more polished look. 

3. Pair accessories with the primary or accent colours of the dress

If you would like to add pair a floral dress with colourful accessories – try matching them to either the primary colour palette (in this case black) or an accent colour (for example, the accent colours for this floral dress are mustard yellow, deep red, dusky blue or pink). This will accentuate the accent colours while simultaneously drawing the look together. While it’s a matter of personal taste, I often op for muted colours (for example, a burnt red or dusky pink) over bright colours as I think they are easier to style in a classic, timeless manner.

4. Add a pop of colour in a contrasting colour

Where the colour scheme of a floral dress is muted or subtle you could consider adding a pop of contrasting colour. For example, the dusky greys, greens and blacks of this floral dress compliment the burnt red shoes in this outfit here. As a general rule of thumb, opposite colours on the colour wheel can often go well together (for example, green is roughly opposite to red on the colour wheel), particularly if styled with tonal colours, as opposed to bright shades Less can often be more when it comes to colour and sometimes you only need a touch of it – or even just a red lip – to elevate an outfit.

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5. Shoes

Often the shoes you choose will depend upon the unique design of the dress, your personal style preferences, the weather and the context in which you’re wearing the dress (including an activities like walking you’ll have to undertake in it). That said, here are a few options to consider:

    • For casual occasions strappy sandals, slide, ballet flats or white runners can be great options.
    • For the office a pair of black or neutral pumps go with almost anything.
    • For dressy occasions strappy sandals or pumps are timeless options, and if the event will be held on grass consider a block or wedge heel or buying a heel guard to prevent stilettos (here, for example) from sinking into the grass. Low kitten heels can be a comfortable but chic option if you’ll be doing a lot of walking but still want a dressy vibe.
    • Espandrilles are perfect for vacations or a summer vibe.
    • It’s probably best to avoid floral or patterned shoes, rather stay with shoes which are a neutral or solid colour (see above for how to add colourful accessories to a floral dress).
    • For the cooler months boots are a great option. With shorter dresses you could opt for longer, knee high boots. For dresses knee length and below a pointed toe ankle boot is often a classic choice.
6. Handbags, sunglasses and belts

Like shoes, handbags, sunglasses and belts often depend on the style of the dress itself and the overall look and vibe you’re wanting to achieve. Most classic styles of handbags will suit floral dresses and as I currently only own a hand bag and evening clutch it’s an easy decision for me!However, if you want to mix things up, I would first decide whether you want to go the neutral accessories or colour accessories route and then work from there. Rather than opting for a printed handbag or clutch, consider keeping the focus on the floral print but adding interest with a patent leather (great for a dressy or office event) or textured leather. A clutch or small shoulder bag for the evening and a medium structured bag in a brown or tan/brown colour for the day are timeless options, which elevate any outfit, florals included.

7. Sunglasses and Belts

Most sunglasses will go with a floral dress so I say, pick your favourite style and run with it. One of my favourite styles is the classic cats eye, which always looks elegant. Most dresses won’t require a belt, but if you’d like to add, one a think black belt or a tan woven belt are two classic options.

8. Jewellery

For a day time event (other than a special occasion event) I would keep jewellery classic and minimal (think gold hoop earrings, a simple pair of studs and dainty necklaces) and then dress it up a bit more for an evening out you can dress things up a bit more. However, ultimately it will depend upon the silhouette and design of the dress, including whether the print is bold or scattered. For example, I’ve kept the jewellery in this outfit to a minimum because the asymmetrical neckline and bold print of the dress already make a statement. However, dresses with a square, or v neck line and a smaller, scattered print might really suit a dainty necklace or a small pendant. While the rule of thumb often tossed around is gold jewellery with a warm colour palette and silver jewellery with a cooler colour palette, I’m a big believer in you doing you – so wear whatever makes you feel the best or even mix metals if you’d like to get adventurous. Pearls are another timeless choice when it comes to jewellery.

9. Hats

Woven broad brimmed sun hats (like this one) complement a floral dress for summer perfectly and scream picnic or holiday vibes.

10. How to accessorise a floral dress for spring or summer

When transitioning a floral dress into spring, particularly during the evenings when the last tendrils of winter remain, consider adding a trench coat for a Parisian inspired look. A slouchy cardigan can give a floral dress a more relaxed vibe and an oversized black blazer will work well for the office or dressier event. Woven accessories such as a straw basket bag, sunhat or espadrilles are perfect for summer.

11. How to accessories a floral dress for spring or winter

I love being able to find ways to style items in my wardrobe all year around as it gives them more opportunity to be worn and allows you to create more outfits with less items. I’ll be honest, while I often find myself reaching, more frequently, for pants and jeans in the cooler months it can be nice to wear a dress to change things up once in a while. A long sleeve floral dress styled with black or neutral coloured stockings, boots and good coat is a great way to transition this style into winter. You can style a short sleeve floral dress (particularly a midi dress) for the cooler months by putting a lightweight knit or turtleneck over the top, adding a belt at the waist and then folding the knit over the top to hide the belt – voila – now you have a top and floral skirt situation going on.

While the focus of this blog post has been on floral print dresses, many of them are also applicable to accessorising other types of print dresses (such as stripes, gingham or polka dots) or just to dresses in general. I hope they’ve been helpful for you!

I’d love to know whether you have a statement floral cocktail dress which you love to wear to spring events?

I’ve had this dress for a while, but (here, here or, for a designer piece, here are lovely options options), shoes Country Road (similar, here)

Photos: Sara Eshu

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