Magic is better when accomplished with style. Whether you’re serving high camp at a wizarding academy or draping cobwebs across your cauldron at home, any practitioner of the supernatural arts would do well to keep in mind the importance of aesthetic flourishes. But not all magical accessories are created equal: just because the little old woman you saved from that bear is offering you a ring with an enticing sheen on the metal doesn’t mean you have to say yes. The ring might confer wonderful powers upon you, but if it doesn’t suit your whole look, maybe it’s more of a curse than a gift…
When dealing in enchanted accoutrements, then, you’ll want to keep this definitive ranking in mind.
A staff is a great magical accessory… for your great-grandfather to wield. A staff tells everyone who looks at you that you’re a very powerful wizard who doesn’t know how to use email and will never be on time. It’s the rotary phone of spellcasting. Sure, you might feel cool the first time you waft your staff around over your head and then thunk it onto the ground in front of you, causing sparks and mists to fly into the air as you shout the Words Of Power. But that schtick only really lands the first few times, and once it wears off, you’re still stuck lugging around a flagpole for the rest of your life.
You’re embarrassing yourself. We all know it’s you under there, Craig. Seriously though, mask-wearing is just clownery without the skill and planning. If you think that a magical mask isn’t going to take over your face and change your personality, maybe you deserve what you’re going to get.
Technically this bumps into both outerwear and non-ring jewelry, but I think it deserves its own category: Hats, crowns, and circlets are a bewilderingly popular choice for enchantment. I mean, sure, who doesn’t want their power to rely on something awkward to wear and easy to remove that will ruin your hair at the drop of a… well. Anyway. I wouldn’t trust something more powerful than I am to be perched that close to my brain, and I certainly wouldn’t want to have to deal with hat-hair because of it.
Admit that you found a cool stick and didn’t want to put it down. There’s no shame in that. The wand is but a condensed version of a staff and, while I appreciate that it will fit neatly into my purse or the infinite pocket I sewed into my robe, there’s a certain lack of zest that comes with wandcraft. Also, people use wands as an excuse to point at things, which is rude. Find a spell that will teach you manners, maybe.
Jewelry (non-ring variety)
Amulets, arm cuffs, friendship bracelets that bind you to a demon named Ashley S. who can destroy your foes with a single comment about their hairstyle: magical jewelry comes in a wide variety of forms. A little sparkle can add a lot to a mystical ensemble. That said, magical jewelry can be a huge pain: having to wear a certain accessory all the time, no matter the outfit or occasion, can feel like more of a burden than a boon. And let’s face it, a lot of amulets fall well beyond the realm of good taste. Still, the right bauble on the right person is a great look and a powerful tool of spellcraft.
We can all agree on the usefulness of a bag. Purses, knapsacks, and totes are crucial to the work of lugging around equipment and/or incriminating evidence. Add magic to the mix, and the result is simply delightful: a bag with infinite space for your infinite tubes of lip balm. The trouble, of course, is trying to keep that bag organized inside. Also trying to keep it from eating you if it gets too powerful and hungry. If you play your cards right, though, an enchanted clutch can be the perfect companion.
Now we’re talking. A sword is like a frown: it goes with everything. Practical, dangerous, and powerful, a sword packs a lot of heat into the length of its steel. Swords can do everything from deciding who gets to be in charge of a country to detecting evil to stabbing a guy to spreading butter on bread, all in the same day. They slice, they dice, and if the pommel is good and heavy, they pulverize. This is a magical accessory that really says “look out, I’ve got a sword—and also it’s magic.”
Jewelry (ring variety)
I’m a big fan of magical rings, both because of their versatility and the clicky noises they make when one is doing magical-finger-wavery. I personally am currently in possession of ten (10) fingers, which makes for a lot of opportunity to mix and match. Rings are also easy to distribute, in case you’re in the mood to toss out powerful talismans like it’s magical mardi gras. (Yes, Sauron, I’m calling you out. The elves might have forged the rings but YOU were in charge of distribution and look what happened.) Bonus: you can trick someone into wearing a cursed ring if, at the pinnacle of your magical battle, you get down on one knee and pop the question. You’ll have to marry them because if you don’t you’ll look like a scoundrel, but that’s not so bad. Not only does it render you victorious, it’s the obvious conclusion to your enemies-to-lovers plotline. Neat!
We’ve already discussed the finer points of magical outerwear—the good, the bad, and the cloaks—but zooming out to a broader view of magical accessories, one thing becomes apparent: outerwear is where it’s at. Capes, cloaks, and mystical coats all combine form and function in the best possible way. It gets cold in the middle of the woods on a blood-moon night when the babe has been procured and the daggers thirst for power! Slip on a magical coat, and you can take your time lighting a thousand candles for ambience and trying to remember how to pronounce the name of the creature that will come to usher in the Unraveling Of All Things. Goosebumps where? Hypothermia who? You don’t know her. You just know that you’ve got the kind of pockets that can accommodate a whole necronomicon, baby.
Sarah Gailey is fashion and fantasy forward.