I hear one complaint from my friends over and over again.
It comes in different versions but with the same frustrated feeling:
“I have nothing to wear.”
“I don’t have enough clothes to create different looks every day.”
“I need to save more money so I can buy more clothes.”
If you are feeling it too, know that you are not alone. In fact, all of us experience the same terrible anguish from time to time.
How do I solve the same situation for myself? I accessorise more!
Recently, I got into habit of experimenting with different fashion accessories and realised I actually like creating unique looks with simple pieces.
The accessory I would like to talk about today, seems to be as old as time itself and is historically one of the most revealing and symbolic jewellery pieces of all time: the handmade Brooch!
From a simple cloth holder to the most precious piece of the jewellery for kings and queens, handmade brooches won my heart a long time ago. In this post let me share with you my never-ending brooch fascination:
A brooch is defined as a small piece of jewellery with a pin at the back to be attached to the clothes, hats, scarves etc.
Originally, brooches were used to hold garments together. However, through the years their decorative appeal became more significant and today we think of a handmade brooch, more as a decorative piece of jewellery, rather than a functional one.
Originally identified as the Latin “brocchus, broccus” which in translation means “projecting”. The latin word turned into “broche” in Old French carrying the meaning of “spit for roasting” and eventually transformed into “broach”, a Middle English noun originally meaning “skewer, bodkin”.
The “brooch” we know today developed over time from old English “broach”.
THE HISTORY OF THE BROOCH:
Since the Early Bronze Age, an ornamental clasp known as a fibula (similar to the modern safety pin) was used extensively by Romans, Greeks, Celts and several other European nationalities.
The modern brooch is considered to have developed from the fibula, and its various forms can be traced back to different areas in Europe, from the Black Sea to all the way to Britain.
The brooch has continuously evolved to reflect the cultural and fashion changes within our society. Its design, the materials it was made of and the craftsmanship were signs of its wearer’s social, cultural or religious position.
Slowly but surely, brooches became some of the most important pieces of jewellery for Europeans and, by mid sixteenth century, they were worn throughout the continent by both men and women.
Soon after, specialised brooches emerged as marks of mourning, religious ranks or an upper-class status.
Over the following centuries, their designs became detailed and complicated. After the early twentieth century, handmade brooches began to be worn predominantly by women and solely for decorative purposes.
Ancient brooches were large bronze or silver pieces which were sturdy enough to fasten heavy cloaks or tunics.
As time progressed, they got lighter, their silhouettes became more refined and they started to be made out of other materials: copper alloy, solid gold or gold sheets.
Brooches spectacularly grew in complexity during the Victorian era, as jewellery-making techniques evolved. As the most popular jewellery pieces of the time, their designs were highly detailed and the materials used to make them were very precious. Usually made of silver or gold, brooches featured enameled designs, carved cameos, diamonds, pearls and their shape was most often inspired by various zoomorphic or botanical motifs.
Today, brooches are made of largely inexpensive materials (zinc, brass, glass, leather etc.) and are sold by most fashion retailers and handmade artists. My favourite brooches come from artists who design and make them by hand from a variety of materials available today, creating one-of-a-kind masterpieces.
As you probably know, brooches made of silver or gold and set with precious stones or diamonds can also be purchased in established jewellery stores with a longstanding tradition.
Do you remember those vintage brooches your grandmother used to wear?
Our current brooch trends reference these vintage influences in an attempt to revive the style of past centuries. So we wear these vintage inspired brooches on anything from coats to shirts, dresses or berets. Brooches are well on their way to reclaiming their throne in the hearts of dedicated fans.
HOW TO COLOUR – COORDINATE YOUR BROOCH WITH YOUR OUTFIT:
Before you wear a brooch you will need to decide whether you want your brooch to completely stand out and be the star of your look or if you want it to take on a supporting role alongside your other accessories.
I prefer a more subtle brooch appearance for my everyday look and a definite stand-out style for any special occasion.
For the stand out look, I pick a colour that is complementary to my outfit’s main colour. Complementary colours are placed opposite each other on the colour wheel. For example, I would wear a blue denim dress with an orange-toned flower brooch which will make my handmade brooch stand out instantly.
For a more subtle look, I choose a handmade brooch and an outfit in the same color but with different shades to complement each other. In the case of the blue denim dress previously mentioned, I would wear a navy leather brooch.
For me, silver and gold brooches are in a league of their own when it comes to colour coordination, simply because they go with everything!
HOW I SHOP FOR MY BROOCHES:
With all this brooch research and talk, I have got a brooch shopping itch!
How about you?
Whether I am planning to browse handmade brooch pieces online or hit the closest high street store for an instantly gratifying buy, I always ask myself a few questions before proceeding:
- Am I going to buy a handmade or factory made item?
I am a big fan of all handmade items and somehow always manage to establish the most rewarding emotional connection with my handmade pieces. They just seem to be more special for me.
- When am I most likely to accessorise my look with a brooch?
I love creating unique looks with a simple accessory, so my answer to this question would have to be “on a daily basis”. On the other hand, for any special occasion I love to have something more precious: such as a vintage brooch or antique brooch.
- And, of course… what is my budget?
Sure, I would love to own a rare pearl brooch, a few antique brooches and a couple of fine vintage ones too, but that’s simply not possible. However, beautiful brooches don’t necessarily need to be expensive. I shop for handmade brooches and the price range is very wide, allowing me to adjust my purchasing decision based on the current budget.
How do you shop for handmade accessories?
Let me finish my post by saying that next time you feel frustrated about the lack of clothes in your closet, get out your forgotten brooch and smile! You will have just created a refined and beautiful look for yourself. Be ready for some compliments today!