“Accessories are what makes or marks a woman.” Coco Chanel
Brooches … forgotten for decades. There’s a common misconception that a brooch is an accessory worn by someone 60+, the Queen of England, aged Park Avenue Socialites, you get the picture.
It’s unfortunate that brooches have gotten such a stodgy reputation, considering they’re one of the most versatile accessories out there. The styling possibilities for brooches are much wider as oppose to most other jewellery that can be worn only the way it’s intended,
A bit of history
You probably know this but brooches didn’t start out as jewels. They began life as functional items that were used to hold together a piece of cloth. The first recorded brooches were made from natural materials such as bone, shell, wood and carved stone and they date back to the Bronze Age.
Throughout the centuries brooches were slowly refined by craftsmen using more precious and higher quality metals. By the 1400’s, gem stones were for the first time introduced and the brooches became a status of wealth.
As time went by, the use of precious stones such as Diamonds, Rubies and Sapphires has increased and the brooch was further lifted as an accessory for the more privileged and higher classes.
In the 1800s the process of making glass jewellery became popular thanks to the work of a French jeweller called Georges Frederic Strass. Strass invented imitation gemstones. He is best known as the inventor of the Rhinstones, so called because of a particular type of glass he found in the river Rhine. Just imagine if we didn’t have the imitation gemstones… my fairly sizeable jewellery cabinet would most definitely have decreased in size …
Around 1900 the locking C clasp was invented which used a locking mechanism to keep the pin from falling away from the C.
By the 1920s costume jewellery was introduced. Synthetic materials brought the price down and now brooches were back within the reach of most people. Since it was inexpensive, it had the advantage over precious jewellery that when styles changed it could be discarded. The French dress designer Coco Chanel loved costume jewellery.
The 1940s and 1950s saw the demure cocktail brooch, the 1960s and 1970s saw the kitsch pop art brooch.
Nowadays the brooch is a chic piece that can bring class and elegance to any outfit bringing even the dullest of outfits to life.
Brooches come in and out of fashion with certain predictability. They were back in fashion in 2016 and the trend continuous strong into 2017 with stylish creations that look like nothing your granny would wear.
Forget those little golden bouquets anchored to tweed jackets. Today, all the top designers from Chanel, Dior, Chaumnet, Chopard to Boucheron and Van Cleef & Arpels, are injecting a dazzling dose of glamour and attitude into this forgotten jewel.
Scroll down for styling inspiration and to shop my picks along the way.
1.Traditional Placement for a Brooch – jacket or coat
Traditional placement for a brooch worn on a jacket or coat is the upper bodice, either right or left, about halfway between the shoulder and the jacket opening. Since jackets and coats typically are fabricated of substantial material, this is a good spot to wear a weighty brooch.
2.Brooch Worn on Lapel
Another way to wear a brooch is on a lapel of a coat or suit. This is an easy place to position a brooch because the back of the lapel is accessible just by turning it.
3.Dress up a boring bag
If you have any plain purses or bags in your closet and you would like to carry those from day to night without having to buy an evening clutch, adding a brooch is a great way to carry it out for a dressier occasion.
4.Multiple Brooches Placed Close Together
If you are bored with wearing the same brooches over and over again how about adding a pinch of creativity and making a bigger impact by positioning brooches close together. Two or more smaller brooches can take on the appearance of one large brooch
5.Brooch Worn on Cap or Hat
Brooches make great decorations for both caps and hats. Whether you’re wearing a beret , knit cap or a more formal hat attaching a brooch will add glamour to your outfit.
6.Brooch Worn in Hair
Who says a brooch has to be pinned to items?
You can mix it up by using it as a hair accessory. Hair ornaments are popular, especially for parties and formal occasions.
To add a little sparkle to your ponytail attach a brooch to a plain ponytail.
If you put your hair up in a bun secure the brooch or pin to a hair comb or a large clip.
7.Brooch Worn on Sweater
Brooches can be worn on sweaters, not only jackets or coats. One benefit to wearing a brooch on a sweater is that the pin in the pinback can be fitted between the fibers so that it doesn’t puncture delicate fabric.
8.Brooch Worn on Blouse or shirt
Brooches can be worn on blouses and shirts, but care should be taken not to damage the fabric of the blouse with the pin of the brooch. It works best if the brooch is light in weight.
9.Brooch Worn on V-Neckline
V-necklines are flattering to petite women because they have the fashion effect of making the woman look a bit taller. Positioning a brooch at the point of the V can add a little extra glitz, too.
10.Multiple Brooches Worn Along Neckline
Lining a neckline with brooches can make an effective fashion statement. The brooches do not have to match, but it works best if they’re about the same size.
11.Brooch Worn as a Closure
Brooches can serve a practical, as well as a decorative purpose. Since they have pinbacks, brooches can be worn as clasps or closures for example on a fur hood.
Combine a brooch with a short scarf to create a one-of-a-kind necklace. The secret is in the placement – connect the ends of a scarf with a brooch, and you have an instant necklace.
13.Style a Scarf
If you want to add a little glamour to your outfit, pin a brooch at the end of a scarf. It will go a long way as long as you pay attention to the balance of patterns, colours and prints. What does this mean? Simpler brooches go well with floral or plaid scarves, while ornate brooches are more appropriate for solid colours.
14.Style a waistline
For those who don’t like a full on belt you can add a glitzy brooch to your dress’s waistline instead of strapping yourself up with a belt.
A large floral brooch can make a big difference to your plain dress. Place it in the middle or to your side, whichever suits the style.
15.Wear a brooch against your back
If it’s one of those glitzy evenings consider clenching together back straps of your gown.
16.Accessorize your choker
The chokers are not dead and you can be pretty creative with them. Create one from one of your scarfs and use a brooch to pin the two ends and voila!
17.Make a brooch a focal point
Wear a large brooch front and center. Oversized brooches flow perfectly with the front lines plain gowns or tops.
18.Adjust your oversized clothes
So you bought a nice but oversized dress, probably on sale … and it’s just too nice to return.
Just gather the extra fabric in the back (like from the bust, because you need that to fit) and pin it with the brooch. Job done!
If you wear bandanas, don’t forget to decorate them. Choose any size, but make sure it’s not too heavy to be a nuisance, pulling your bandana constantly to one side.
20.For all those princesses out there, accessorise your gloves
A brooch will go nicely on the back of your glove wrist.
Choose the brooch in the same way would choose a ring: large enough to attract attention, but small enough not to get in your way.
21.Glam up your jeans
Funky brooches have their place on jeans also. Add buckets of glitz and glam to your denims.
Shimmering crystals and Cubic Zirconia will look good on any jeans. Place them strategically to attract even more attention.
22.Personalise your dull shoes
Add an impressive, spangled look to your shoes by attaching a funky brooch. Dare to stand out a bit more then try different, but similarly styled brooches for the left and right shoe. Boom!
23.Make a pedant
Attach a brooch to a chain and voila! – you’ve got yourself a pendant!
24.Mix and match with some other jewellery pieces
Wear one as a ring, just pin it to one – it will certainly attract attention!
25.Glam up your plain belt.
If you have a stodgy belt you are bored with…instead of getting a new one attach a brooch to transform it into a head turner.
Now that you know so many ways to wear brooches and how versatile they are – why not to treat yourself to one? It’s almost Christmas after all and we are worth it!
You can purchase most of the brooches I’m wearing in my Elegant Duchess Boutique.Hope you can find a little festive treat for yourself this wonderful Christmas.