Brooches Are Back on the Runway, Red Carpet and the Real Girls of Instagram


(Reprinted in part  from my March 22, 2016 Article on with updated info to launch a series  on,   Not Your Grandmother’s Jewelry, which focuses on how to wear antique and vintage jewelry with a thoroughly modern attitude and vibe.)

I am and have always been a fan of the brooch. I stick with antique and vintage brooches from different time periods wear them in diverse ways at all times of the year. During the past few seasons, I have also been watching them return in on the runway, red carpet and the real girls of Instagram. So, if you haven’t added a brooch or a few to your jewelry collection, it’s time to re-think wearing one you inherited from your mother or grandmother or purchasing one or more. You will want to pin down the types you prefer—antique, vintage or modern and the myriad ways in which you can wear and interpret them with a contemporary spirit and style.

The Alexander McQueen Fall/Winter 2016-17 show

Brooches from the Georgian through the Retro period are all versatile; many of the early 18th -20th century pieces have mechanisms or fittings so that they be worn as a traditional brooch or slide through a chain as pendant and accessorize the hair.

Creative designers have been broached this subject during the ready to wear runway shows for fall/winter 2016-17 as well as the fall 2016 Couture shows. They scattered them here, there and everywhere. Alexander McQueen’s fall/winter show was styled with brooches, which were hung onto chain, and all over the front of a black jacket and seemingly haphazardly  placed in the hair. Dolce and Gabbana brooches also bejeweled the hair and showed up in trios on the lapel of jackets.

Vintage Belperron pins accessorize a Carolina Herrera dress at the spring/summer 2017 runway shows Photo: Rex/Shuttershock

Couture shows featured the delicate lace styles of Bucellati at the Giambattista Valli while vintage Suzanne Belperron adorned the Spring/Summer 2017 Carolina Herrera Spring/Summer (If you want to read more about those collections, please head to our archives to read the full articles)  .

Giambattista Valli wearing Buccellati Brooches at the Couture Fall/Winter 2016/17 show. Photo: Rex/Shuttershock

Brie Larson. Photo: Rex/Shuttershock

Anna Faris in a dematoid and diamond Fred Leighton Lizard brooch on her back

In addition, Best Actress Oscar recipient Brie Larson wore pearl and diamond styles by Japanese designer Niwaka, during the recent 88th Annual Academy Awards. But the red carpet has seen many a flower and creature and other motifs in the tresses of A-list celebrities and also in imaginative interpretation on the waist and deep V- back of a gown —as in the unforgettable lizard from Fred Leighton climbing up the back of Anna Faris’ gown. I first reported this trend in 2010, showing up the catwalk and celebrities in INDESIGN Magazine I also noticed, in earlier years that style-setters such as Sarah Jessica Parker, Renee Zelwegger and Charlize Theron were the first pin up girls for this burgeoning direction in both antique and contemporary styles.

Me–in Paris trying to dress up a denim jacket

I personally wear them in numerous ways—the first of my vintage styles given to me by my maternal grandmother. At first I wasn’t sure what to do with the enameled orchid and rose diamond pin. Then, quite spontaneously I clipped it to the side of an ultra long strand of baroque pearls. It then wound up on the pocket of a worn jean jacket with two smaller paste styles while I was in Paris and figuring out how to turn the too casual summer clothes I brought into chicer statements of style. Not sure if it was runway worthy but it definitely dressed up the jean jacket. I have since collected brooches—fine and rare antique styles—and wear them in clusters on the side of the bottom pocket of a black blazer, across the neckline of a cashmere sweater and strategically place a rose diamond flower on the side of a wrap dress. I wear smaller Haley’s Comet brooches, varying size pansies and Art Deco clips on the thin straps of a slip dress, and quite frequently, as pendants or on a ribbon wrapped around my wrist. I have also pinned them into my hair.

On Instagram, the hashtag #bringbackthebrooch has brought out inspiration and artful ways to wear brooches on real women in real clothes—not only runway models or celebrities who have been styled and re-styled for hours.

There are also contemporary designers such as Alex Soldier whose sunflower clips can be worn in various ways and Katey Brunini whose orchids have blossomed into multiples she wears on a kimono fabric inspired jacket.

To Help You Figure out your brooch style and styling, here are some tricks of the trade:

– Raid your mother and grandmother’s jewelry boxes. Those brooches they tried to give you but you passed up, thinking “like I am really going to wear these” — go back and get them and hope they are still there and that your sister, sister-in-laws or cousins weren’t smarter than you.

Danielle of @Jasmyntea on instagram adds an antique brooch to a scarf

– When you first begin to buy or collect brooches and you want to wear more than one, start with the more accessibly priced Victorian styles in gold or silver with some lively color in gemstones and/or enameling

Hannah Peters of @jewelleryhannah adds a bohemian garnet brooch to the cuff of a sweater

-To keep it simple, your first attempt at styling brooches should be in a theme — such as garden motifs— with a mix of flowers and insects. Or you can work with certain types of brooches such as smaller lace pins.

-You can also try grouping them by color but as you get more comfortable — start mixing and mis-matching styles—as that will provide the most current take on this look and allow for the most individuality

Eden Daniels of @theedencollective with mixed brooches on a jacket

me...wearing mixed period brooches on the pocket of a jacket

– Practice. Never try it for the first, second, or fifth time when you have an event to be at. Trying to master pinning three brooches, so they lay correctly on the lapel of a jacket, or even just one on the waist of a dress—is much more complicated than throwing on a necklace. But stick with it — you will also realize it doesn’t have to look perfect — spontaneity and a tongue-in-cheek attitude will minimize stressing while accessorizing.

Anya @gemfever wears a brooch on her jeans originally to keep her small child from playing with it on her neck, she pinned it on her jeans and voila–an ingenious look is born

– When wearing your brooch as a pendant, make sure it is one where the bottom of the pin in the back is short to be hidden by the design of the piece.

me wearing a locket and Georgian diamond floral brooch as a pendant

– When wearing brooches in the hair—use bobby pins to secure them, unless they have fittings made for this. You can work the bobby pin under and over the pin of the brooch and they won’t be seen.

Alexander McQueen runway show fall/winter 2016/17

– If it’s a heavy enough bar pin, you can also wear them to lengthen a necklace by fastening it at both ends of the chain. You can also do this with antique lingerie pins that have motifs or bezel set gems on top.

Adding a bar pin to lengthen a chain or adding gold safety pins with motifs to achieve the same thing

-Play and style yourself with abandon. Getting pinned has never been more fun.