Accessories for high impact

There is nothing timid about accessories this season. ''Bigger is better'' appears to be the motto of costume-jewelry makers. Belts, gloves, scarves, handbags, and hats also are designed for high-impact effect.

Among the top-rated new items:

* A chain gang of linked necklaces and bracelets in silver, pewter, or iron, studded with large stones.

* Double-wrap belts, to be worn low on the waist.

* Gauntlet-style gloves, which often have fantasy trim.

* Six-foot-long mufflers.

* Handbags with reptile-skin appliques of wavy stripes or abstract motifs.

* Hats that make a definite fashion point instead of looking like apologetic head coverings.

* Enough animal patterns in every accessory category to fill an African wildlife preserve.

Besides being generous in size or unusual in shape, many new pieces provide a shot of pure pigment color (turquoise, red, or magenta, for instance) in a year when black and gray - or combinations of same with white - pervade the fashion picture.

Fur is a noteworthy touch, too. It's been liberally applied to the flaps of handbags and the wrists of gloves, for example. Fur hats - Russian cossack styles particularly - are much in vogue again.

As to the zebra, tiger, leopard, and other species on the endangered list, no actual skins are used. But their markings have been stenciled, woven, painted, and stamped on a variety of materials. Shoppers will find all manner of sophisticated animal-print accessories, including waist cinchers, pouch bags, earrings, and scarves.

In the latter group there's an outstanding giant square, by Yves Saint Laurent for Jewel Case, of cheetah-patterned olive drab silk. It's the kind of investment extra that can recharge a tired wardrobe.

Some of the other new concepts are on the primitive side. A strong tribal influence is evident in belts and neck rings of knotted rope or leather cord strung with fetishes or with rectangular slices of metal. The savage look is also prevalent in combinations of copper, wood, strips of distressed leather, and brass discs with painted beads.

Such feral effects are not, to be sure, what we want to live with in the course of a working day. The right accompaniments for business clothes and for slicked-up sportswear have not been overlooked. Twisted chokers of multiple strands of pearls or jewellike beads, wide cuff bracelets, and supple leather belts with silver buckles in free-form shapes are among the possibilities.

The suit bag - a shoulder-strapped half-moon or rectangular affair of polished calf - is less generously scaled than the more capacious drawstring styles and bucket shapes. The assumption here seems to be that the career woman will carry a portfolio or tote in addition to her suit bag.

Versions of the famous Hermes Kelly bag (so-named because it was a favorite of Princess Grace of Monaco) have been reissued. The quilted Chanel style, with its chain handle, continues on its classic way.

Since resistance against wearing a hat and gloves has been slackening lately, more women may heed the call of fashion by completing their looks with these finishing additions.

The leaders in millinery are (1) fedoras with high crowns and straight brims and (2) firmly structured berets. Other hat news: the cuffed gob shape in wool, and the brimmed felt with an attached scarf that ties under the chin.

Gloves range from the whimsical (like the Perry Ellis that has fingers in different colors) to the ultrahigh fashion, which is decorative rather than utilitarian. It is made of expensive calfskin or suede and is sometimes long enough to reach the elbow. High-fashion gloves, which sell for correspondingly high prices, are of course as easy to lose as a pair of wrist-length cottons.

In outsized jewelry, the clanking, large-link chains are most in evidence. These may be medieval, art deco, or nautical in feeling - or they may be a silversmith's interpretation of what you put on your tires in winter.

Button earrings come in half-dollar dimensions. Fake stones, used in neck ropes, bracelets, pins, and earrings, are often framed in enamel settings of contrasting color. Like the well-known diamond, most of the stones are as big as the Ritz.

of stories this month > Get unlimited stories
You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Unlimited digital access $11/month.

Get unlimited Monitor journalism.