A Guide to Vintage Jewelry Styling
Vintage jewelry has an enduring elegance. The craftsmanship, style, and shine of antique accessories is simply unmatched. Pieces with a rich history and decadent design deserve to be showcased as often as possible. With that said, it can be difficult to know exactly how and where to wear your favorite vintage pieces. After all, it can be easy for statement pieces to overwhelm your look if you are not careful.
If your jewelry box is overflowing with gorgeous vintage pieces but you have no idea what to wear them with, read on for styling tips on how to incorporate vintage jewelry into every look.
Wear Clothing Inspired by the Same Era
A foolproof way to ensure that your vintage jewelry are styled to perfection is to pair them with clothing featuring design elements that were popular during the same era. Focusing on trends that are still relevant today – rather than literal, costume-y pieces – ensure that the resulting look is always contemporary and chic.
Jewelry from the Victorian Era is inherently decadent and feminine. Traditional pieces from this time period features natural motifs crafted out of gold and silver that were often accented by deep gemstones and floral designs. With a rich and luxurious aesthetic, these grand and opulent pieces are sure to make a statement.
Due to its size and old-world elegance, Victorian vintage jewelry should be worn sparingly. One or two pieces is usual enough to dress an outfit up to perfection. While wearing a corset and petticoats is no longer commonplace, Victorian jewelry pairs well with items of clothing that feature design elements borrowed from the era.
Ladylike outfits with feminine fabrics, structured bodices, and an emphasis on modesty will never go out of style. Pair a delicate A-line dress or skirt with a tailored velvet blazer for a decadent look that is current yet still borrows trends from the 19th century. Then, add opulent vintage pieces that coordinate with the look, like a decadent cocktail ring and a stylish necklace.
The start of the 20th century ushered in the Edwardian Era. Thanks to changing tastes and jewelry manufacturing techniques, adornments from this era are lighter, brighter, and more feminine in design. Platinum was being used for the first time ever in jewelry making, and its glistening silver color paired perfectly with diamonds or other clear gemstones. Within Edwardian jewelry, you’ll find bows, ribbons, and lacey garland motifs created out of intricate metal work.
During this time period, clothing designers rebelled against Victorian trends and instead favored pastel fabrics, relaxed lines, and unstructured styles. Edwardian jewelry is incredibly graceful and feminine, and it paired perfectly with these popular fashion trends. When wearing vintage pieces from this era, pair them with garments that mimic the flowy and effortless styles that were popular during this period.
Lightweight fabrics like lace, chiffon, and voile are stylish, easy to wear, and maintain a traditional Edwardian elegance. Pair a lace midi dress featuring a high, sheer neckline with Edwardian bow brooch for a ladylike look that is garden party appropriate. Or, pair a long sleeve poplin shirt dress with platinum filigree earrings and a Gibson Girl updo for an Edwardian-inspired look that is perfect for everyday wear.
Art Deco Jewelry
The 1920s were a time when accessories took center stage. The Industrial Revolution allowed for the mass manufacturing of costume jewelry, and for the first time, fancy jewelry was available to the masses. Rebellious flappers wholeheartedly embraced the idea of liberally adding costume jewelry to their revolutionary looks.
This period was also when the Art Deco movement was in full swing. This movement borrowed heavily from Egyptian and Middle Eastern elements of design. Art Deco jewelry is simply unmistakable and features geometric shapes, clean lines, colorful gemstones, and dramatic patterns.
It is easy to find ways to incorporate vintage pieces from this era into your everyday look. Layering on pearls is an easy nod to the 1920s and is decidedly on trend. Pair multiple strands of pearls with a feminine blouse and midi dress for a chic, vintage-inspired work look. When dressing up for a night out, Art Deco inspired pieces elevate your look. Brooches, bracelets, earrings, and pendants with geometric patterns and glittering gemstones add texture and visual interest to a classic black dress. Feel free to wear multiple pieces at once, but always use an editor’s eye when pairing pieces together.
Add Jewelry Based on Your Outfit’s Proportions
Another way to seamlessly add vintage jewelry to your look is to pay attention to your outfit’s proportions. Rather than randomly adding pieces to a look and hoping it works, take great care to ensure that every element of your ensemble is perfectly balanced. Doing so will ensure that your accessories enhance – rather than detract from – your overall look.
Garments with a square or Queen Ann neckline showcase your décolleté. Highlight this gorgeous area of your body by adorning it with a delicate necklace. A graceful, glittering necklace from the Edwardian Era will add just enough visual interest to make a statement but is still fine enough as to not overwhelm your overall look.
Garments with modest necklines should be accessorized with care. Layering a necklace over the top of a high neckline often weighs down your look and makes you appear oddly proportioned. Instead, balance out your look by wearing dramatic earrings only. An intricate pair of drop earrings with an Art Deco design makes for the perfect accent.
Formal events allow you to have plenty of fun when it comes to vintage accessories. When wearing rich materials or colors like velvets or jewel tones, add decadent statement pieces from the Victorian Era for a show-stopping look that is dripping in old-world elegance. If your look is lighter, don’t be afraid to add plenty of sparkles. Wearing a necklace and a pair of earrings together is perfectly appropriate for incredibly formal events, just be sure that the gemstones and settings are the same so you look polished and cohesive.
Another great way to showcase your vintage pieces at formal events is to wear them together to create a decadent layered look. Multiple strands of pearls look beautiful when paired together and finished off with a glittering vintage brooch. Similarly, layering multiple chains together can create a gorgeous textured look – just be sure that their metals complement each other. Once again, attaching them with a vintage brooch creates a great look and allows you to show off multiple pieces at once.
Just because your look is low-key doesn’t mean it can’t be enhanced by vintage jewelry. Casual looks are sometimes the most fun to accessorize, as they add a bit of extra impact to your everyday go-to looks. A vintage necklace or pair of intricate earrings instantly dresses up your favorite tee and jeans combo, while a vintage bracelet or strand of pearls is an easy addition to your office-appropriate attire.
When styled correctly, vintage brooches can also enhance your outerwear. In winter months, add vintage brooches to the lapel of your pea coat, the brim of your favorite beret, or the end of your scarf for a vintage-inspired cold weather look. During Summer months, add a brooch to your favorite summer hat or beach bag for a little extra sparkle everywhere you go.
Pairing vintage jewelry with a monochromatic look can create a beautiful, simplistic, and Parisian-inspired look. Mourning jewelry from the Victorian Era has a dark, gothic look that is right on trend. Pair these decadent pieces with cigarette pants, a white blouse, and a bold red lip for a go-anywhere look that is incredibly chic.
If you are a fan of wearing black from head-to-toe, jewelry is a great way to add a little color into your look without drastically altering your overall aesthetic. Pieces from the Art Deco era typically include magnificent colored gemstones, which catch the light and add extra impact to an otherwise one-note look.
Wearing vibrant colors or patterns doesn’t mean you can’t wear vintage jewelry but do so with care. Keeping your jewelry minimal ensures your look is never too busy or overwhelming. A simple pendant or basic pair or earrings add just enough visual interest to dress a look up without taking center stage.
With that said, if you want to make a true statement don’t hesitate to do so. Victorian jewelry that is purposefully placed can give your look extra textures and layers. Pair multiple pieces together unapologetically for a bold, unique look that lets your personality – and love of vintage jewelry – shine.