If you don’t really do “occasion-wear” then the season of weddings, al fresco parties and endless sundry sporting events that suddenly require inordinately snazzy frocks can be taxing. I speak from (formerly puzzled) experience.
The sort of clothes the Middletons were born to wear look all wrong on me. It’s not that I can’t objectively appreciate dressy-dresses – tea-dresses, ruffled dresses, fitted sleeveless dresses, coats -and –toning-dresses – just that I don’t enjoy wearing them. They all feel too prissy, too mutton or too ageing. So I’m officially abandoning them to their fate (they’ll be fine). From now on I’m relying on the kind of pieces I know suit me – trousers, shirts, tailored jackets, pencil skirts, the occasionally shirt dress – which I know I can endlessly reinvent with jewellery.
After all, when Alessandra Rich can sell an embellished denim ball dress for £1450 and J Crew can make sequined trimmed skirts for the office, it’s fair to say that dress codes are more fluid than they’ve ever been. A silk T shirt and trouser suit with a diamond necklace or a fabulous pair of drop earrings looks far more stylish than a fussy dress that isn’t you.
But first, some admin. Although jewellery trends date far more slowly than clothes or shoes (and vintage jewellery never goes out of fashion, whatever the era which makes the cost-per-wear value exceedingly virtuous) your jewellery wardrobe still requires pruning and updating.
It’s time to retire those Marni-esque floral statement necklaces
Necklaces now are either very fine gold and rose gold chains, precious looking ropes of stones (see Saoirse Ronan below at the Baftas this year so impressively carrying off her Chopard gems as an extension of her Burberry frock, that Chopard subsequently signed a contract with her) or geometric brass sculptures. Note how the right necklace can ring the changes on a strapless dress or top. Invest in good necklaces – and plain necklines – as do Dolce and Gabbana’s Alta Moda clients.
Cuffs will always have a place, for now, the delicate gold wrist chain is now hugely current. Wear in multiples (think of them as an upgrade on friendship bracelets). But don’t forget the power of a single, twinkly chain. Elegance, as Coco Chanel, one of the all time crusaders of modern jewellery wearing said, is refusal.
Earrings? Chandeliers are back
Further proof that good quality jewels don’t go out of fashion, they merely require occasional sabbaticals. Mismatched constellations also still look contemporary. Next week Dinny Hall launches a Singles Bar in all of her five stores (prices from £50-495, dinnyhall.com) where customers can buy them singly. When it comes to multiple earrings, things generally work out better if you stick to a theme: different coloured pearls, variously shaped diamond specks , or a crocodile of insects…
- If you’re wearing a dress with a plunging back, try wearing your necklaces back to front. Lariats look particularly elegant dangling between shoulder blades.
- Herd mentality: If a single brooch isn’t doing the trick, try a cluster. Work on groupings that go together: flowers, animals, star-bursts. Don’t stop with lapels. Brooches work wonderfully placed on the waist, hips, an evening bag, a velvet choker at your throat or wrist or attached to a grip in your hair.
- Layering: Long chains look lovely with shorter jewellery necklaces and collars but remember you’re not a Christmas tree. A single piece, even a small, discreet one, can sometimes outclass a galaxy of jewellery. Let your mood and outfit dictate and never allow your neckline fight or sleeves to fight with your jewellery.
- Nurture your inner Kandinsky: Update the classic bracelet cuff with a set of mix and match geometric Hermes lacquered wood bangles.
- To hell with rules: Rubies and emeralds with jeans? Far chicer than saving them for best and more stylish than wearing actual jewelled jeans.
- Knuckledusting: If you’ve been there and done that with stacking rings, try the lateral approach. A chunky ring on every finger, a la Victoire de Castellane, Alessandro Michele or Maria Grazia Chiuri can look exceptionally dramatic, especially if the rings tend to the dark side: momento mori, skulls, daggers are all conversation pieces. Alternatively a lattice-work of skinny and midi-rings can look entrancing.
- Charm offensive: Charm necklaces, featuring precious and semi-precious charms that have memories attached are as lovely as charm bracelets and sometimes easier to wear.