NEW YORK (Reuters) - A woman can never be too rich or too thin, as the saying goes, but not so with her accessories.
Accessories for spring, the season that designers are showing this week in New York, are huge but don't have to carry whopping price tags, judging from the chunky costume bracelets, dramatic necklaces and dangling earrings on the runways.
"If you can't buy a new outfit, you'll spend on a statement necklace or stacked bracelets," said Nina Garcia, fashion director at Marie Claire who is known for her role as a judge on Bravo television's "Project Runway."
"It's an immediate fix" that suits the fashion-conscious and budget-conscious consumer, she said.
So big are accessories for spring that scarcely a delicate piece or a bit of fine jewelry could be found, said Robert Burke of Robert Burke Associates, a luxury consulting company.
"We're not seeing anything small," he said. Instead, he added, "look for very signature items."
At the Abaete show, models wore flowered earrings as large as their ears. At designer Tracy Reese's show, models wore long, chain-mesh necklaces wrapped like winter scarves and huge chandelier earrings by jewelry designer Gerard Yosca.
Ports 1961 designer Tia Cibani showed chunky necklaces of copper, bark and yarn, along with copper headbands and a capelet adorned with large chunks of mica.
Some 200 designers are showing their newest collections for spring 2009 at the semi-annual Mercedes Benz Fashion Week, which wraps up on Friday.
Many in the fashion world see bold, chunky jewelry as the new 'it' bag, said Judy Licht, a television co-host of Full Frontal Fashion.
"How many pocketbooks can you buy?" Licht said. "It's much more creative to let loose with some great jewelry that doesn't cost a fortune.
"With so many great knockoffs, it's an easy way to make a basic look incredible and new," she said.
Designer Nicole Miller's long swinging necklaces, which hung well below the waist, were decorated with amulets evocative of voodoo, which the designer said was an inspiration for her spring collection. Australian designer Tony Cohen's models also wore long gold chains.
Where once the dress was a woman's fashion staple, the accessory has moved in and taken over, said Stan Herman, former head of the Council of Fashion Designers of America whose designs sell on QVC television and online shopping site.
"This is an accessory time, no doubt about it," said Herman. "Accessories are where the money is."
Belts were big in the collection by Matthew Williamson, a British designer who is launching a line of accessories that includes bags, shoes and jewelry.
New York-based designer Diane von Furstenberg's models sported silk flowers and feathers in their hair. Crystals, beads and sprays of colored stones hung from her dresses.
Derek Lam, also a New York-based designer, showed long gold earrings, and Brazil's Rosa Cha line adorned bathing suit-clad models with large rings, bracelets and earrings of tourmaline and amethysts.
Additional reporting by Jan Paschal and Martinne Geller; Editing by Eric Walsh