Owner Susan McDonald is a vintage jewelry pro!
We asked her to share some of her top vintage jewelry styling tips with us. Enjoy!
I. How to layer and mix bracelets and bangles or how to stack an arm party!
1. More is always better. I like a few bracelets together. It’s just more interesting and actually compliments each piece by creating pop colors and contrast.
2. Always wear an odd number of bracelets. Just like you always use an odd number of flowers in a floral arrangement the same approach works best with the number of bracelets you are stacking. Go for 3, 5 or 7, etc. In the top photo I am wearing 9 bracelets.
3. Have a color combination in mind and start with the 1 or 2 bracelets you really want to wear and build from there.
4. Mix scale and texture. The juxtaposition of smooth vs.chain link elements or color vs. texture creates interest. But, you need to have some kind of commonality so that everything works together. As pictured I selected a group of skinny green and cinnabar toned bangles and layered in 4 different gold tone bracelets. Each gold tone bangle brings its own texture: chain, twist with lion heads, spikes and cable twist! The commonality is gold tone and as a group mixes really well with the green and cinnabar bangles!
5. Mix high/low. I think its fine to mix costume with fine jewelry, and vintage with new jewelry. Its a way to enjoy all your jewelry! And as a hairstylist once told me (we were talking about mid-century furniture), “Good stuff goes with good stuff” — I love this idea! And I think this strategy works well for jewelry, too!
II. How to layer necklaces
1. The sum of the parts is worth more than the individual pieces. I like that saying and I love the effect with jewelry. I love these examples because you can really see how mixing, layering, and doubling over can really elevate your necklaces to a fabulous new level! Try some of these looks with what you already own, and wear them to work, the grocery store or your next cocktail party and people will stop you and say – “Wow, love your jewelry!” Now, the pieces I used in all these photos are second hand, vintage pieces I found at the thrift store, flea market, etc.
My first look is a gold tone mix with 4 necklaces. From the top, a Monet collar necklace, Monet gold tone chain, Trifari rectangular pendent necklace and the finishing touch is a long, aurora borealis rhinestone necklace. Quite a nice look, don’t you think? By having one necklace closer up to the face, this helps create a vertical line – making your appear taller and slimmer. Also, it balances the longer necklaces so that they don’t weigh you down and brings a nice focus back up to your face!
2. The next look is silver story. I used 4 necklaces all with a unique scale or texture but with a common tone, in this case, silver. From the top, Monet flower collar necklace, Trifari spike necklace, Monet ball and chain necklace that is doubled over and last is another Monet, three-strand chain necklace. It’s OK to try this at home; may I suggest a little black dress or chambray blouse? A crisp white shirt would be fabulous, too!
3. Next up is a pearl and gold combination. Can a girl ever have enough pearls?! I think not! From the top: unsigned multi-strand pearl and chain necklace, probably from the 1990s; a long pearl and chain necklace with rhinestone rondells – doubled over; Monet flat chain; pearl and chain necklace with open diamond links; and finally, a mostly pearl necklace with gold and rhinestone detail. Now you might think, oh, that’s a lot of jewelry – but trust me, this would be fabulous on a solid color dress or blouse. Another great way to wear this look is over a white tank top, with a long sleeve cotton blouse and wear all the jewelry inside the blouse, with the blouse unbuttoned to just about your waist. Add a simple, stud earring and that’s it.
III. How to Wear a Brooch
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 wherever 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 décolletage
- 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
- 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
Above: Photos from Vogue propped with vintage brooches showing how vintage jewelry can replicate looks in top fashion magazines.
Above: 2 vintage rhinestone butterfly brooches are “pinned” onto a vintage Monet triple-strand necklace.
Above: 2 faux pearl necklaces get an elevated look with the addition of a spectacular vintage starfish brooch. The brooch is “pinned” to the pearls.
Above: 3 cool, vintage novelty brooches including a triple link, an arrow and turtle are all “pinned” to 2 vintage chains. This works really well as the brooches are all the same scale and have 2 points of commonality: gold tone and a bit of rhinestones
Above: A Rhinestone brooch is fun on a summer straw hat. I added the scarf as a band on the hat and then placed the brooch. The colors of the cotton scarf worked really well with the colors in the vintage brooch.
Above: A vintage jade green butterfly brooch is a great way to add a little pop to your straw fedora
IV. Copy current runway looks and classic, iconic movie looks with vintage jewelry
1. Olsen Twins at the 2015 Met Gala – Get the look
I was thrilled to come across photos of the Olsen twins at the 2015 Met Gala and how Mary Kate wore a couple of related brooches on her coat! Check out the photos below! All the jewelry on by Mary Kate and Ashley is by David Webb. Now, for those of you still on the fence regarding brooches, I am sure you will agree that the brooches look fantastic on this long black coat! And this look can easily be replicated! Just chose 2 or even 3 brooches and secure them, off center on a similar coat or jacket. Skip the necklace and go with a medium to large simple earring!
2. Ralph Lauren Spring 2015 Runway Jewelry – Get the look
I have been obsessed with the jewelry from the Ralph Lauren spring 2015 runway show. I decided that I would try to replicate a couple of the looks with vintage jewelry I had on hand. I had a great time copying these looks! And I was inspired to try a few more from other photos I had seen recently. The general premise on this fashionable exercise was to pile on the necklaces and keep it inside the blouse – just like Ralph!
Runway model far left, necklaces assembled to create the look and me on the right. Not bad, huh?
Runway model on the left, jewels in the center and me on the right. I layered 2 rhinestone necklaces here, and found these amazing clip earrings. Very similar!
3. Breakfast at Tiffany opening scene necklace
I love the clothes and jewelry in the movie Breakfast At Tiffany’s. I have been able to re-create the necklace that the Holly Golightly character wears in the opening scene. It is very easy to duplicate this look yourself with pieces you probably already own. Start with a multi strand faux pearl necklace. Attach or pin, a fabulous rhinestone pin to a single strand of pearls. Layer the single strand of pearls over/on top of the multi strand pearls, and fluff the necklaces so they all hang nicely and the pin sits well. Check out the photo below. I always get compliments when I wear this combination.
Some general tips:
- The brooch is the queen of the jewelry box – it has more versatility than any other jewelry item.
- Good stuff goes with good stuff.
- Fasten your necklaces, bracelets and brooches. It’s going to be a glamorously styled ride.
- Mixing vintage jewelry into your wardrobe is like decorating your living room. Mixing in a little vintage elevates the whole look.
- Vintage jewelry can add that “wow” factor to your wardrobe.
- The next hot collectible vintage jewelry is the 1980s and ’90s. The most coveted brands include Chanel, Christian Dior, Givenchy, St. John, Karl Lagerfeld and Robert Lee Morris.
- The key to layering necklaces is to mix textures and lengths.
- Don’t be afraid of color. When people are unsure about mixing colors or creating a “pop” of color with jewelry, I tell them to go out and look at nature and see how gorgeous red tulips are against the blue sky or how magnificent the mix of colors are in the Grand Canyon.
Thanks, Susan, for sharing your expertise with us! For those of you who would like to learn more — and to purchase some of Susan’s amazing vintage finds! — visit her at Junk Bonanza San Diego at the Del Mar Fairgrounds! She — and Team Junk Bonanza! — look forward to it!