From giant gobstopper gems to neck-grazing hoops, the 1980s statement earring was everywhere at Fashion Week, writes Annmarie O’Connor.
Did you hear the news? Statement earrings are hot fashion property.
Not since the ’80s have lobe-bending baubles been so popular.
From Art Deco chandeliers at Andrew GN to Shiaparelli’s shoulder grazers and single couture gems at Armani Privé, the memo is clear: The bigger, the better.
It was only a matter of time, really.
The pared-back principles of modern dressing (see: deconstructed shirting, straight-cut jeans, fuss-free trainers) needed a soupçon of sass; something that could add impact without detracting from a simple silhouette. What better than a pair of bolshie baubles to do the job?
So, the ’80s power earring got a second shot at the big time.
Luckily, there’s a caveat to this season’s maximalist mantra.
Size may matter but so does ease and wearability, which makes the 2017/18 offering so appealing.
Think back to Sade’s chic oversized hoops, Madonna’s unwieldy crucifix, Nenah Cherry taking a Buffalo Stance in huge Creole creations, not to mention Pat Butcher’s swinging door knockers.
The RSI-inducing pain of ’80s excess is still etched on our 2.0 memories; not to mention the memory of Sue Ellen having to remove a Dallas-sized earring every time she answered the phone.
Be assured, this is one instance where history won’t be repeating itself.
From Skype conferences to FaceTime chats; Instagram selfies to Snapchat stories, our hands (and earlobes) have been freed by a 5.5-inch LED-backlit widescreen next-generation Retina HD multi-touch display smartphone.
As our lives become more visible, so does the lens through which we see ourselves.
Why bother with an entire outfit, when the focus is squarely on the face?
Maybe that’s the appeal of the 2.0 statement earring — the ability to shift style gears in an instant without multiple costume changes, a wardrobe team and three trucks of designer swag; and, more importantly, before we’ve moved onto other things.
We’re busy people, after all.
The gold standard for any wardrobe, after all, is not having to think too hard.
Alarms set at 6am, ‘late again’ dinner dashes and life waving its magic wand don’t always allow for elongated musings over the hem length of this season’s crushed velvet trousers.
Sometimes, it’s a case of reach and run, with barely enough time to hustle that zipper before calling a cab.
In times such as these, a pair of gem-clad clip-ons can make the difference between looking put together or thrown together.
Not only do these accoutrements provide a low-commitment approach to tackling trends; their cost-per-wear ratio is unparalleled.
If this season is any indication, style seekers are guaranteed serious bang for their buck.
From fine-spun mismatched earrings — micro and macro — to sculptural styles, lightweight monoliths and clever cuffs that imitate multiple piercings, the eclectic pic ’n’ mix vibe allows for easy individuation.
Feeling brave? Piercing bars (like the recent Maria Tash pop-up at Brown Thomas, fashion’s pioneer of modern lobe decor) are experiencing their own renaissance with tragus, daith, conch and helix providing a new lexicon for cavalier ear candy connoisseurs.
Innovation in styles aside, the rules of earring engagement differ from that of our ’80s brethren.
The perma-teased hair, tectonic shoulder pads and blue frosted eyelids of the era-that-was have been swapped (thankfully) for a more measured approach.
No one knows this better than Barb, Fiona and Niamh — the trifecta behind Irish accessory boutique Betty and Biddy (bettyandbiddy.com).
“We believe in giving the stage to the statement earring: hair pulled back; minimal face makeup with a power colour lip; and a simple outfit teamed with the biggest and boldest pair of statement earrings you can hunt down,” says Barb.
Smart advice from the purveyors of the technicolour tassel and pompom danglers at just €15 a pair.
Pulled back hair needn’t just mean a humble ponytail.
A slick side sweep; mid-parted ballerina bun or flapper style finger waves also make the grade, so long as the ghruaig isn’t hiding the goods.
Ditto for any competing accessories, such as busy brooches, collars or necklaces.
Where there’s elaborate ear décor, allow the nape of the neck to take a sexy sophomore billing.
Apart from looking good; playing it simple is also smart. Minimising risk can also eliminate any trips to the A&E pursuant to personal negligence.
Hey, even Queen Bey found herself bloody-eared after an errant braid got scrappy with a crescent-shaped ear constellation on stage at a Tidal X charity concert in Brooklyn, New York. Not fun.
Neither is getting earrings caught in clothing (get dressed before dressing your ears), in lip gloss, or, indeed, sucked against a Macbook magnet screen. Just a word of warning.
Personal injury claims aside, there are other factors that need to be considered, as Louise Stokes, owner of Dublin jewellery boutique Loulerie (Loulerie.com) advises: “Take into account your hair colour and face shape. Opt for strong pops of colour that stand out rather than blend and styles that flatter and accentuate the shape of your face. Most of all, make sure that they are not too heavy; there’s nothing worse than dragging earlobes.”
Stokes’ favourites? “The styles, for me, this season are silk tassels in deep autumnal colours from Oscar de la Renta. Lulu Frost is really rethinking the statement earring, with a mix of vintage shapes with modern twists; while Mignonne Gavigan [new to Loulerie] sees more handmade birds and wing earrings with beads (€399; €279) inspired by the designer’s time at Marc Jacobs and couture houses.”
For those with more dash than cash, high street retailers, such as & Other Stories, Uterqüe, and Mango, deliver on runway-inspired novelty while remaining light on lobe and pocket (approx. €10-€60).
That’s the beauty of this accessory: Its easy access means everyone gets a fair share.
The statement earring — fashion’s new equal opportunities employer. Who knew?
Ear we go ...
As jewellery boutique Loulerie celebrates its 10th anniversary, owner and designer Louise Stokes gives her five top tips for buying earrings.
“Earrings should make you feel amazing — something that adds personality or wow factor to a day or evening look. The beauty of earrings? Their transformative power. What else can instantly breathe new life into an outfit?”
1. Comfort is key:
“One of the most important things when buying earrings is how they feel on. Avoid uncomfortable heavy earrings; you’ll only wind up taking them out which defeats the point in wearing them. Our Loulerie double wave earrings are a lightweight option and sit comfortably on the earlobe.”
2. Think big picture:
“Earrings should enhance your overall look rather than complicate it. Consider what you are wearing and whether the style really works for you. For an intricate lace dress keep the earrings super simple; for a block colour outfit, be adventurous and add a statement earring like our Mignonne Gavigan birds.”
3. Play with colour and texture:
“I wear monochrome and neutral tones in my clothes but I always go bold or add pops of colour with earrings. Adding a strong colour can really compliment the skin tone and lift the complexion.”
4. Think outside the box:
“Consider wearing statement earrings by day. Our Oscar de la Renta tassels (one of my favourite seasonal picks) are amazing for evening wear but also work with a cashmere knit, jeans and a leather jacket for the weekend.”
5. Consider cost-per-wear:
“Cost-per-wear will always pay dividends if you invest in fine jewellery as it can be worn every day — whatever your schedule entails. One of my favourites is the gold wave hoop from our Loulerie collection. It’s the perfect everyday size: really light and comfortable to wear and adds warmth to the complexion. As studs are a jewellery staple, I’ve also added twists to this year’s collection for those who want to experiment with piercings. This style has a gold piece that goes through the lobe, so it looks like you are wearing a simple stud and a cool mini gold wire hoop without any need for piercings.”
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