Do you play chess? I used to play. I remember that the Queen is the most unrestricted playing piece on the chess board. She can move horizontally, vertically, and diagonally. She can also move as many number of squares as she likes. She has more freedom and versatility than any other token or playing piece on the board. Brooches have the same luxury and that, my friend, is why I regard the brooch as the queen of the jewelry box.
Brooches or pins, are the most misunderstood category in the line up of jewelry. For many people they are the odd ball jewelry item that they just cannot figure out how to wear. I work with lots of women who have a brooch or two. Some were bought and some were inherited. When I ask them about a brooches, they say, that they don’t wear them because they don’t what to do with them. It’s such a shame that these beautiful and miniature works of art are so overlooked and panned. Brooches are amazing and not at all frumpy and dumpy. The trick is that you need to know how to wear them. No other piece of jewelry has the versatility of the brooch. So, just like the queen in a game of chess, the brooch can go almost anywhere.
And by the way, brooches are hot, hot, hot for Fall 2015! They were all over the the fall runway shows, fashion magazines and websites. It was so exciting to see them embellishing so many beautiful clothes, collections and models. Here are a few of my favorite looks on how to wear a brooch and how to style a brooch.
Below: Runway at Balenciaga
Below: Gold vintage inspired brooches adorn the necklace at Dolce & Gabanna.
Below: Stemmed flower brooches at Prada
A brooch combines beauty and function. A brooch can……
- Direct the eye so that it is most becoming and flattering to you. You can place it so that it can bring the eye or down, or where ever you want a focal point.
- Secure a gaping opening on a V-neck or wrap blouse
- Cover a small stain
- Help to create balance to your figure
- Substitute for a missing or failed button or snap
- Embellish almost every article of clothing and accessories
- Add drama to your waist or decollete
- Personalizes clothing and accessories
- Adds color
Need some ideas on where to place a brooch? Here are some of the ways to wear a brooch:
- Center placket of a button front blouse, between the collar
- Waist – off center ( A cluster of 2 or 3 is good here!)
- On the hip of a wrap skirt
- Bodice of a dress
- On the shoulder ( See the photo of Pat Ciner Hill above with her gold butterfly brooch)
- On a pocket
- In your hair
- On a hat
- On a scarf
- On a choker
- On clutch
- Nested in a cowl of a chunky sweater
- On the cuff of a sleeve
- On a necklace – a’la Chanel. For examples of this idea check out my series called When Brooches and Necklaces Collide where I show lots of examples of pinning a brooch onto necklaces, here.
- On a necklace: chain or ribbon hanging as a pendent
- On the back of an evening dress emphasizing a dramatic V back or other feature
- Wear a cluster of brooches, 2 or 3 together
I have asked some of my favorite vintage jewelry sellers and Costume Jewelers to share their favorite ways to wear brooches or pins.
1. Pat Ciner Hill / Owner of Ciner New York Fashion Jewelers and Kris Ciulla / VP Sales & Design at Ciner , New York, New York
Ciner Jewelry is the oldest and only remaining costume jeweler that maunfacturers from start to finish in New York City and are still family owned and operated.
Kris shared both Pat’s favorite way to wear a brooch as well as her favorites. (That’s Pat on the far left in the photo above and Kris on the far right) And a bit of trivia here, Pat is the granddaughter of Emanuel Ciner who founded the company in 1892.
“Pat is the best accessory person I know and she wears pins a few times a week. Actually Pat is one of the best dressed woman I ever met. Her very favorite way to wear a pin is to DOUBLE PIN!!! She will wear a Large Flower and a Small Bee Pin set just so on her clean lined blazers. Or a Large Butterfly and a Smaller Butterfly for example. Sometimes just one larger pin. But always on clean lined, beautifully cut blazer or jackets. She does not always wear them on the lapel, sometimes she places them off to the side, under her shoulder on the front panel of the jacket if the lapel is not large enough to accommodate. Pat is a jacket wearer … with Pants or Skirts, but almost always with a beautiful jacket. She owns the most fantastically cut jackets from some of the best designers and she really wears them beautifully. So chic!! The pins are the perfect touch!!”
“For me it is on a Hat or a bag. I recently purchased a 70’s style brown suede floppy brim hat and plan to accessorize it all fall long with pins that will compliment my outfits. And Bags!! A bag is such a great place for Pin. Looks so modern!!! I purchased a bag just yesterday made from Vintage 50’s maroon velvet and Pink Plaid with a hard gold frame closure and long gold chain strap. The bag is accented with a nicely sized Rose and Garnet Rhinestone Wreath Pin set in Gold. It is really pretty. The pin really makes the bag POP. I plan to wear it with a Darker Raspberry Color Tweed Coat, the coat is knee length so I will pair it boots, and the sleeves are bracelet length so I must find some gloves – maybe black gloves so it is not too sweet a look.”
Below: Fabulous bug, frog and insect brooches from Ciner.
2. Emily Maynard / Founder and Designer of Elva Fields, Taylorsville, Kentucky
With a background in French and Art History, Emily scours flea markets sourcing vintage jewelry and interesting and unusual beads and stones. She then combines them to create beautiful, unexpected and timeless designs. She also is a purveyor of mid mod vintage jewelry.
“It’s such fun adding a brooch (or two or three!) to strands of beads or chains, creating your own one-of-a-kind statement necklace–even better if the brooches are family heirlooms that have been collecting dust in your jewelry box. What a tribute to family history and a way to bring new life to loved (but sometimes overlooked) treasures!” Take a look at how Emily mixes vintage jewelry with semi precious and interesting stones to create one of a kind necklaces, below. See more of Emily’s one of a kind collection at Elva Fields here.
3. Deirdre Zahl / Founder and Designer of Candy Shop Vintage /Charleston South Carolina
Deirdre sells vintage jewelry and designs a vintage inspired jewelry line called the Candy Shop Collection which includes her Charleston Rice Beads. She also has a store in Charleston that looks like a really fun place to shop and play with the jewelry!
“When I wear brooches I love throwing a big, statement brooch on a fun blazer. Also love to attach them to a chain and wear as a pendant. This particular piece has a built in clasp to attach to the chain it comes with but for vintage brooches you can always buy a converter piece that attaches to the pin part to put on a chain.”
Deirdre shared a great brooch trick with this cool converter that easily allows you to wear a brooch on a chain. It’s available here. Thanks Deirdre for the tip!
4. Jillian Bremer / Founder of Sweet & Spark Vintage Jewelry, San Francisco, California
Jillian’s consistently travels the whole country to source her collection of carefully curated vintage jewelry. She does a great job showing and styling vintage jewelry with a modern point of view.
“My favorite way to wear a vintage brooch is on a classic denim or army jacket. It’s the easiest way to wear the trend and really highlights the brooch without being too fashion forward! I always rotate between a statement sparkly piece and a newer, 70’s or 80’s bold gold one.” Check out an example below. See more of Jillian’s collection at Sweet & Spark here. She also offers a very cool shopping experience called Spark Party – like a Tupperware party except it’s vintage jewelry and everything is one of a kind! Get details here.
Here’s my favorite way. I love to combine brooches and necklaces.
The 2 rhinestone butterfly brooches, which make for a very Chanel look above, work really well on the gold chain necklace, below.
Have you seen All About Eve starring Bette Davis? Her wardrobe was by Hollywood costume designer Edith Head and one of the most famous costumes from the film was at the cocktail party at Bette Davis’s apartment. This is where she says the famous line, “Fasten your seat belts it’s going to be a bumpy night!” How fabulous does this brooch look on her? I wrote about this film in my Screen Gems series awhile back, for more about the jewelry and brooches in this movie click here.
Another good example is the lead female character in the cult classic film, Model Shop. Actress Anouck Amiee wears a brooch as a decolletage focal point throughout the film. I covered this movie too in my Screen Gems series. Click here for more details.
How about the Holly Goliglty character from Breakfast at Tiffany? I love the way this look can be easily replicated with a pearl necklace and brooch. You can learn how to create this look here.
The Olsen twins on the red carpet at the Met Gala earlier this year. Love the double brooch effect! Read more about the look here.
There’s a blog called Wear The Rude, and they source all the clothing and accessories shown on the TV show Hannibal. They posted about the liner and circle brooch that was listed on my website, and you can see the exact same brooch on the character on the right. I wish I had more of these brooches!
And more brooch ideas from July Vogue! I propped similar brooches (and even a pair of earrings) with the jewelry shown in this editorial. Get more details about these ideas here.
How do you feel about brooches? Ready to wear them? Leave a comment below about which brooch idea you are going to try this fall.
Thanks again to Pat Ciner Hill, Kris Ciulla, Emily Meynard, Deidre Zahl and Jillian Bremer for their brooch tips and ideas. Be sure and check out their websites and collections for brooches and other fabulous jewelry. I have lots of awesome brooches in my store right too, you can shop those here.