Do people still wear brooches?

A few weeks ago I received a link from Nicole at Tiaras and Trianon, who was blogging about royal jewellery. The post she linked was about brooches and ended with the question – “Does anyone wear brooches anymore?”

Since I make and sell brooches on a regular basis the answer must be yes, at least for some people, but this does seem to be a question that a lot of women are concerned about. Certainly my daughter is not convinced that wearing a brooch is an acceptable fashion statement, though of course she is at an age where most people think fitting in is much more important than standing out. This concern does seem to be more widespread, as it only took me a few seconds to find a string of blogs and forum threads discussing the subject.Red textile brooch

The big fear expressed again and again is (whisper it) the “granny look” and I sort of understand what is meant. (Please note that this is not an attack on grannies. I am already well into the age range where I could be one myself!) I suppose we are talking about a sort of genteel and conservative look that seeks to avoid any strong personal statement.

I have a beautiful little gold brooch that I inherited from my mother-in-law, but I could only wear it with an outfit that somehow changed its context, or was “knowingly” retro. I do wear gold or silver brooches on occasion, though I think precious metals and gems tend to look best against my skin. If you want precious jewellery that makes a statement when pinned to clothing, it really needs to be a bold bit of bling, but this can easily slip into tastelessness.
(Mind you I took a wander through the precious jewellery department of Harrods recently and it’s clear that many people have no worries about tastelessness at all!)

I wear brooches all the time, and while nowadays these are mostly my own creations, I also wear other pieces I have bought or received as gifts. Most brooches I wear are either colourful or quirky, or are made from unconventional materials. Few are small and they are generally selected to make a bold contrast when worn on a jacket or top.

This leather brooch is a fun accessory

This leather brooch is a fun accessory

I believe a brooch is as valid a weapon in creating a personal fashion statement as any other accessory. A dull, conservative “granny look” results from dull, conservative choices in creating your outfit, not from the category of any individual element. Dressing up well is all about self-confidence and conviction, not following a rule book.

A conventional brooch

A conventional brooch like this can still be work well if the outfit is well chosen

I have a friend who went through much of her life dressed in a quiet, restrained and very conventional way, then around the time when her son had grown up and left home, she transformed herself. She swapped her long straight hair for a fiercely short crop (which looks stunning in her steely grey) and began wearing the boldest, most colourful clothes she could find. This was not a desperate attempt to recapture lost youth, but instead a form of liberation. Clearly, there had always been someone with a personal style sense hidden away inside her and she just reached the point where she had the confidence to let that secret person out. The transformation from camouflaged moth to colourful butterfly was a shock at first but she is now much admired, by young people as well as those in her own age group.

What I am trying to say is that when deciding to wear a brooch, or any other item, fashion can be a trap. I am referring to fashion in the homogenised, high street, mass market sense, which is not about dancing out on the edge (what fashion used to mean) but about giving people a safe set of rules to hide behind. Far from helping you to stand out, the fashion industry today is all too often about giving people a new conservative place to hide.

Blue green and purple brooch

Blue green and purple brooch

This post is probably me letting my “grumpy old woman” out for fresh air, aided and abetted by my “grumpy old man” husband. If you have any thoughts on this subject, whether agreeing or disagreeing with my viewpoint, I would love to hear them.

Related posts:
Are brooches popular? When do you wear them?
Do you wear pins/brooches?
Wear red lipstick and a brooch
What to do with brooches

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8 thoughts on “Do people still wear brooches?

  1. I love this post! I have inherited a lot of brooches from my grandmother who has passed away. I’m only 23 and I would love to incorporate them into my dressier outfits. Thanks for giving me the suggestion to go for it!

  2. I’ve got various brooches, some inherited, some bought, which I used to wear. Currently I do not dress in a way they would fit. But who knows, maybe again in the future.

  3. I love brooches. I have an extensive collection of Birksand Eatons Sterling Silver pieces, engraved in wonderful swirling patterns, pins, earrings, bracelets, and lockets, Some were my mother’s, and they were also special gifts… confirmation, graduation, special birthdays, etc. Everything is mix and match, whether sixty years old or new. Freshly polished, they are wonderful, especially in groups. I also have some cameos and some Sherman pieces, very bling, also inherited.

    I much prefer brooches to neckpieces… which are rarely the correct length for my collar or bosum, swing when I bend over, chafe the back of my neck, and require dexterity to fashion. Also women “of a certain age” no longer have slim necks and lovely skin. A high neckline or a silk scarf and beautiful pin are the solution.

    As a fiber artist, I am very interested in hand crafted pieces, whatever the material. I think young people are not wearing brooches because their skimpy necklines give them no where to pin anything. How about on a hat, or your purse, or the lapel, sleeve cap, or pocket of an artsy jacket.

    When I am going out, a brooch is always the finishing touch!

  4. Brooches are glorious….don’t let anyone tell you otherwise….I wear a cameo most days or my mother’s 21st Birthday present, a turquoise enamel fish with a sapphire eye, or the Celtic Cross-esque diamante brooch which my 12 year old daughter bought for me from Greenwich market…they make me smile and that’s good enough reason!

  5. You are talented and your work is incredible! Thank you so much for this blog. It will be a huge success….and yes I wear brooches! And textiles? Addicted. I am eyening a very old Navajo rug in Zion National Park right now, but toooo pricey. Love the textiles in Guatemala, and have some framed, and very old Bugarian embroidery from my grandfather’s family,early American embroidery and quilts from my husband’s family, and lots of exquisite old Chinese embroidery. I cannot make it, but I love it, collect it, and care for it.
    Your work is wonderful!
    Cindy Knoke

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