My life is a look book. I even put “looks” together for a run to Dunkin’ Donuts.
Meaning: I always start with a shoe, build upwards with some type of garment, usually an H&M or Urban Outfitters black slip dress, topped with a Free People kimono. I add black kohl eyeliner, clear lipgloss, matte gold Sheila Fanjl hoops and then the icing — the rings.
There’s no rhyme or reason to them. No order. Just that they go on. Like my barista is expecting them, so I do it. It’s my showpiece. Here she is AND her marvelous RINGS!
These things on my hands complete me. And define me. I go thru this ritual daily, sometimes multiple times a day. The rings are key because in a sea of charcoal colored lace slips and Adidas shell-toe Stan Smiths they stand out. My bling. My carte d’identité. My code. If there were a fashion criminal lineup, they’d lock me up by identifying my Alexis Bittars and my Stephen Dwecks (my obsessive documenting on Instagram would give me way.) I’m drawn to the ability to have a choice. This is something put together that I own. I’m so tired of looking like someone else (unless it’s Elizabeth Taylor in the early 70’s) wearing the same thing. I like not being dictated to. No one can say: “Oh, I style it like that, too.” I do my own thing with my bling.
It all started with a jeweled scarab. The Stephen Dweck ring arrived one day when I was fashion director at Us Weekly. They send such things to editors as gifts in the hopes that we use it, wear it, post it, write about it and credit it. This odd looking, oversized scarab ring mystified me. I didn’t wear it at first. It was too huge. I have small but wrinkle-free hands (I’m 53) and short stubby fingers. One day I slipped it on with my real anniversary and wedding diamond rings. It was life-changing.
“I love your ring.” “Ooooh, that ring!” “Where did you get that????”
And that was that. Attention, which I crave. No lie. Who doesn’t? And if it’s over something I wear? I’m done.
I started stacking and as I did, I lost the ability to cross my fingers or put gloves on in the cold — both highly overrated. Going thru metal detectors was challenging. I learned to arrive early, put my rings in my carry on and adorn myself after I pass through. (I chat up the TSA over these things, too. The ladies love them!)
Accessories always fit. The greatest thing about being older and bigger (we’re talking a happy size 10-12-14) is that accessories have no problems with the condition of your body or the size of your derrière. There’s no need for wishful appointments for Cool Spa miracles on your bulges. You just wear accessories, feeling the unconditional love.
The truth is, you’re expected to wear all of this shit. It’s part of the job and everyone knows it. But fashion is a difficult business to be in if you’re over a size 8. Luckily, I have never given a rat’s ass — I earned my girth and I’m happy. I’m also ecstatic that I have the gift of putting things together and making it look like something you want to be part of. I just make it work.
So I collect large, stone rings and put them together, but they never match. I change them. I add polish. It’s fun to play with it. There aren’t any rules. No size restrictions. Just hand candy and arm candy. Arm parties. What you feel doesn’t go together makes the strongest statements. Because that’s what it’s all about: making your mark. Taking a chance.
I started to see designers spend more time making accessories. Extraordinary pieces like jeweled headphones, glittered gold palm tree sunglasses, logo belts, furry and feather “guitar” straps you attach to your purses. And rings. Stackable, strong and colorful. An entire season of fashion news in one piece. My thing.
Recently I found a consignment shop in Glens Falls, New York called Finders Keepers. I wove my way thru racks of smelly, used stuff to the the jewel boxes. I found a floral, square-cut brass ring for five dollars. Five dollars?!? I bought six of them, all oversized. They look like something Gucci would do. They feel newsy yet they have no expiration date.
On a spring break trip to London, I found an enormous tiger ring with ruby stone eyes and gold teeth that probably belonged to a British pimp. I now wear it with my jeweled scarab and diamonds.
All in the name of doing something unique. My personal stamp. I don’t copy anyone. I am inspired by the pieces and not by an Instagram-er. Doing something different and not wanting to copy. Taking what I know about styling and putting it to good use. Being known as “the girl with the rings” is an honor. I have always loved being individual and having people tell me they like what I’ve got.
“Everyday I wake up and I thank God for my amazing ability to accessorize.”
I read that on a bumper sticker once and I live by it. And it happens to be the truth. I don’t think there’s anything in fashion that’s more important.