Broaching the Subject: 10 New Ways to Wear Brooches and Pins

Design Idea C74H Brooch
by Barbara van Look, Exclusively for Fire Mountain Gems and Beads®

Grandmothers wear them. Bridal bouquets can be made using them. Queen Elizabeth II and former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright each have an impressive collection of them.

But they're "just not fashionable" anymore.

Not fashionable?

I won't tell Karl Lagerfeld if you won't.

In? or Out?

Now, there are always two arguments about the brooch: 1) that it's back in fashion and 2) that it never left.

Like other particular forms of jewelry, the brooch comes and goes in overall popularity, though it always has its loyalists. That band of loyal wearers expanded with fashionistas viewing the 2015 Céline, Chanel, Oscar de la Renta and Vera Wang shows with all the lovely brooches being worn on their runways.

In a world where consumers are crafting their personal styles and searching for signature pieces, brooches and new ways to wear them are making inroads on a new generation. Jewelry makers, marketers and resellers have plenty of opportunities to offer new style options to consumers who are new to the brooch.

Part of the appeal is the range of ways to wear the brooch--some oh-so-traditional, some ... oh-so- not :
On the lapel
This classic method is a classic for a reason--but that doesn't mean it isn't being updated!

Bold, oversized single flower brooches filling the entire lapel were seen on Oscar de la Renta's runway in counterchanged color: black brooches on a white lapel, white brooches on a black one. Meanwhile, single oversized fabric flowers were de rigueur at Fendi, in bright, saturated colors.

Designers can make bold florals from molds using metal clay, then enamel them just as de la Renta did, for the modern color blocks that suit customers' style. Add fine chain that wraps around the lapel, as Balenciaga did on their runway. Or fold flowers in fabric using kanzashi templates and embellish them for sparkle and movement.

Broaching the Subject: 10 New Ways to Wear Brooches and Pins

At the base of the throat, instead of a tie or bolo
Ideal for stick pins, this new style was seen at the spring 2015 Céline show. The brooch is pinned sideways around the buttonhole at the top of an Oxford-style shirt, and under the collar on one side. While Céline's runway featured white porcelain hands and eyes, jewelry makers can create their own shapes using molding compounds and a range of malleable materials: polymer clays, metal clays, air-dry resins like Vitrium® and adhesive epoxies such as Apoxie® Sculpt.
Stick Pins

Broaching the Subject: 10 New Ways to Wear Brooches and Pins Cuff link style
This alternative to bracelets lets women adorn their wrists without having to go all the way around. Multiple mini-brooches worn at the cuffs of an Oxford-style shirt--especially in popular feminine themes like blossoms, butterflies and bees--is taking a classic men's style and remaking it for the 21st century. Some fashion designers are using stick pins through the cuffs to match the ones at the collar. Others are turning tie tacs into easy-to-use women's cuff links and, with this selection of tie tacs, jewelry makers can, too!

Shoulder perch
Asymmetric necklines are a huge draw for embellishment, and brooches make it easy to personalize without having to stitch onto the fabric. It's not just the one-sleeved red carpet gown, either--clothes from Matheiu Mirano, Versace, Armani and others were just begging for a bold accent to draw eyes.

Whether jewelry makers design their own or offer ready-for-resale finished jewelry, brooches will be the chip everyone will want on their shoulders.

No boo-boo on the bolero
No miscue on the cardigan, either. Chanel showcased their distinctive double-C logo as a brooch pinned to close the top of swingy little bolero jackets and softer cropped cardigan sweaters in 2015.

The stylish closure lets consumers choose how they want to finish their look on different days and gives jewelry makers the opportunity to offer brooches for every part of the day from work to after-hours.

A new sweater set, of Norse
Viking women had a habit of wearing two brooches on the front of their dresses. That style inspired the sweater clips/guards of the 1950s--and fashionistas are bringing back the trend in the 21st century with sets of matching brooches.

It's not just for wearing two fancy pins with a chain, either--Viking women strung "festoon" or "treasure" necklaces to hang between the brooches in colorful swags. Modern designers are not only making matching festoon necklaces to go with their designer brooches, they're also creating interchangeable festoons consumers can use to dress up or dress down their outfits. One set of brooches + multiple festoon necklaces = an entire suite of updatable style. Make the festoons using large-hole beads and see customers come back for new festoons and new beads!

The big winner is the customer's neck: no more pressure on the vertebrae when wearing bold modern pieces or vintage styles made of heavy gemstone or metal. It's all supported by the brooches, so make them durable.

Dione Add A Bead System

The wrapped robecoat
Also ideal for long sweaters, this is the ultimate exterior brooch.

Coats without closures, usually just wrapped and belted, don't need the belt anymore. Consumers are simply wrapping the coat around themselves and pinning it shut with a sturdy brooch--usually an embellished kilt pin. Be sure to add colorful beads that'll pop against the black or grey trench.

Micro-brooches are showing up pinned to opaque tights and leggings in a range of locations. Sometimes, a tiny bow is pinned right above the back of a shoe for flirtatious flair--other times, they're scattered over the entire leg like dappled sunlight.

Remind them to remove the brooches before laundering and your customers will never worry about random rhinestones showing up in the washing machine.

A shoe-in
While some are sticklers for shoe clips or shoe roses--jewelry specially designed to add to women's shoes--the runway is getting less formal. Designers are pinning their brooches directly to the footwear (both at the front and the back), turning solid color shoes into dazzling powerhouses.

Larger brooches work better on flats, while dangling styles suit stilettos. Pins mean the pieces are removable (for cleaning and polishing the shoes) and updatable.

Purse your lips
Chanel, Chanel, Chanel! Unlike Jan's lament over Marsha, this trend celebrates how the purse is always getting all the great embellishments. Lagerfeld not only embroidered the double-C logo on the bag's overflap, he also pinned clusters of thematic brooches all over it, even up the strap! Metal, fabric, high-end and streetwise, the eclectic mix turns any bag into a personalized statement.

Your customers who prefer a more restrained style can still tap into this transformative trend. Offer bold brooches ideal for evening wear designed to fit an otherwise boring black clutch. Swarovski always works great.

Whether designers think brooches are back in style or that they've never gone out of fashion, they're fast becoming a popular way to add personalized style to a range of clothing and accessory items.

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