What do I wear a vintage brooch with?
Styling vintage jewellery is one of the hardest things to do. Whether you own many vintage items or you've just started your collection, you’ll quickly find yourself with a few items you just don’t know how to wear. So, I’ve written this guide to help you find the perfect outfit to wear your brooch with. I’m going to cover multiple styles of brooch, so if you don’t yet own a brooch you’ll be able to see if it would be right for you.
A vintage brooch is best worn with a dress or suit jacket that complements the style of brooch. For example, a large ornate brooch with intricate metalwork could get lost in a patterned item, so it would be best paired with a solid colour dress. Vice versa, a brooch which doesn’t have any small details could work well with a brocade jacket.
Wearing a brooch is all about adding a statement piece of jewellery to an otherwise plain or boring garment. Worn traditionally as a fastener, modern-style brooches are experiencing a renaissance and are being worn in many ways you wouldn’t expect. You’ll see them more often on traditional pieces of clothing like jackets or coats, usually on the upper bodice on either side, but they’ve found a home on modern clothing in many other places.
Improve the fit on items
My ultimate tip for wearing a brooch is to use it as a fashionable closure for dresses. If your dress is flowing a little bit too much and not giving you the waist you want, bundle the fabric to your waist and add a large brooch to cover where you gathered the fabric. Now, it will stay there just like a belt without having something bulky to distract from the dress itself!
This works just as well on long coats. Fasten the coat as it’s meant to be fastened, then pin a large brooch at the waist. This can replace a belt too, but it works best to get the best possible fit on the coat.
If you do like your belts, you can also combine a brooch with a belt. Belts with small buckles can have a larger brooch fixed to them quite easily. Slot it into a punch hole and it will be secured to the belt. Of course, you might want to reserve this to belts that are quite simple, as a statement buckle will distract from your DIY touch!
Hats & Headgear
Most people don’t tend to think about wearing hats as part of their day to day outfits, but that’s what makes those who dare to wear them stand out even more. Consider the beret, a hat style that was first popularised in the 19th century with military origins; It has experienced a resurgence amongst many fashion influencers and celebrities. It’s also the perfect place to experiment with a brooch.
If you have a monochromatic brooch, pair it with a beret of the same colour for a subtle style statement. Or, use it against a simple black beret as a way to add a pop of colour to the hat. A beret is one of the best places to use a statement or costume brooch as it can add some embellishment, colour or sparkle to an otherwise very simple accessory.
Other hats are making a comeback as well, such as wide-brimmed straw hats. A large jewelled brooch can be the perfect addition for the summer hat, as the brooch will catch the sun and the stones in the brooch will gleam. But, if we haven’t brought you around to embracing headgear yet, there are other options.
A brooch can go right into your hair with the right hairstyle. A simple, low-lying ponytail can work really well with a barrette shaped brooch. Use it right on top of the hair tie to hide it for an easy to wear option. The same method can be used for a plaited up-do, but since the hair is so tightly braided you can pop the fastening pin right into the braid too - just be careful with the sharp end! For a special occasion, the french twist suits a large brooch for the ideal statement piece.
How To Style A Brooch with a Scarf
If you choose to cover your hair, most headscarves can make great use of a brooch. For a total head covering, use a brooch to pin it at the neck, so you can be sure it won’t move. If you wear a headscarf to cover your hair alone, finish your headscarf with a classic brooch to give it a touch of Old Hollywood glamour! It can be hard to combine a brooch with a more pin-up inspired do because of the way the hairstyle falls, but as long as you tie the scarf fairly securely around your head, you will always be able to find a place to secure your pin to your look.
You can also wear a scarf around your neck as an easy accessory. Use a brooch to pin a neckerchief or smaller square scarf to create a stylish neck piece! Pick a block colour scarf, and a dainty brooch, so it doesn’t overwhelm the neckerchief and make it look like a choker but complements it instead.
Don’t Be Afraid Of A Bit Of Kitsch
So many vintage brooches, like many pieces of jewellery, aren’t delicate pieces - but that doesn’t mean you can’t wear them! Use this funkier styles for your less dressy articles of clothing, for example blouses and shirts. Be careful though! A heavy brooch will damage the fabric, so it’s best to pick something that isn’t made of metal. Many 20th century brooches are made with lighter materials, for example wood and enamel, which are more than suitable for light blouses.
Use brooches to express your own individuality. Just because something doesn’t seem typically trendy or glamorous doesn’t mean it can’t be when styled in the right way. Use a kitschy pin as a way to add some personality to an outfit, when you wouldn’t usually have the opportunity to. If you wear something with confidence, it makes all the difference.
Brooches are such an easy item to wear, once you’ve been inspired by some novel ways to wear them! It’s all about experimentation and understanding about what styles and patterns can work in which contexts. When in doubt, pick a more traditional place such as the lapel or in the centre of a fitted bodice or bustier, and it will complement your garment beautifully.
If you’ve been inspired by this article, tag us on Instagram @trendlistr - we’d love to see what you do! You can shop our selection of true vintage jewellery here.