Little High, Little Low

I’ve been meaning to write this post for some time, in answer to a common question I get from friends and family. They always seem curious about the jewelry I actually own and wear, bringing attention to both my personal style and my ability to function as a representative of my industry. It occasionally makes me feel like a snarky celebrity, fielding those banal “who are you wearing?” softballs tossed out to attractive starlets on crimson carpets. More often, it allows me a wide-open opportunity to introduce new styles (or old ones) to the people around me, gauging their reactions in a market research microcosm.

I would like to imagine that the visionaries behind a designer name are never caught without their style house’s brand somewhere on their person. In my mind, they live and breathe their work, incorporating it so naturally that they literally embody their brand. Those of us on the lower rungs of fashion are not so fortunate, and must be content with aping our betters until we can afford to make our own statements. But therein lies the beauty of the “high/low” concept of fashion: mixing timeless, well-made, investment pieces with on-trend and less expensive flair is nothing if not an egalitarian approach.

It’s a method I’ve adopted, and it seems to work pretty well. Wearing classic pieces most of the times means that a change makes a much bigger impact — people tend to notice. It’s easier to do more with less, which also means that every new acquisition gets its fair share of the spotlight it deserves. On the other hand, those timeless pieces have a great ROI in their lose cost-per-wear, and it’s rather nice to have a few signature things. Where would Jackie be without her sunglasses or Marilyn without her lipstick, after all.

I can honestly say that I love my brass-and-glass ear cuff, and I love my gold bangle bracelet. One will certainly won’t outlast the other, but then, likely so will the trends from which they emerged. And that’s perfectly okay with me, because it means I’ll have some lovely new trends to follow (or not), keeping my wardrobe fresh and exciting and ever-evolving. I make no apologies for mixing, even when friends ask why I’d wear something from there when I work, well, here. Besides, when I go to work inside a glittering jewelry box every day, I’m allowed encouraged to gently wear what I sell — jewelry isn’t meant to sit in a case, after all, and it always looks better on than off.

High-fashion echelon arguments to the contrary, one can posses a unique style without a wardrobe of one-of-a-kinds. This obviously applies not only to clothing, but perhaps even better to accessories of all kinds. I doubt anyone with the black quilted Chanel on her arm has had cause to regret that purchase, but perhaps the Lucite heels from a few decades ago have long since been retired. (Well, maybe they’re back out again now, but they’ve been dust-collecting for 25 years.)

So yes, I tell those who ask, I do wear the real and the “fake.” I love them both for their own unique properties, and strongly encourage people to experiment as their own tastes and budgets allow. I readily admit which pieces is which, if questioned, using the opportunity to educate and spread the good word of jewelry to all. I suppose jewelry can be like an investment, if only in this one way: diversify!