The Most Fashionable Accessories of All Time
Accessorising has forever held a place in the fashion industry, always tempting us to turn ourselves into an extravagant piece of art. Both catwalks and sidewalks have acted as a stage to the eye-catching pieces, from timeless pearls to dazzling headpieces. With developing trends of vintage jewellery, retro sunglasses, and fashion throwbacks, the lavish history of these trending accessories is noteworthy.
This vintage accessory has made a major return in recent months. Pearls have experienced a huge revival and have been seen alongside power suits, dainty florals, and simply featuring as buttons on clothing. The decadently divine accessory seems to be tying the fashion industry up in knots, by reintroducing retro style into fresh designs. Pearls symbolise wisdom, purity, beauty, and wealth, and some of history’s strongest female leaders were known to wear them, such as Cleopatra and Queen Victoria, as well as fashion icons including Audrey Hepburn, Marilyn Monroe, Jackie Kennedy, and Coco Chanel. As the trend of vintage accessories continues to thrive, pearls are becoming an increasingly popular fashion staple. Pearls were a popular 20s fashion trend, with longer string necklaces favoured earlier in the decade. The accessory became increasingly accessible following the discovery of creating cultured ‘fake’ pearls in the early 1900s, as more women could afford to own them.
Coco Chanel once said: “a woman needs ropes and ropes of pearls”
Brooches were once an essential tool used for holding clothing in place, but due to evolving vintage fashion trends, they have become stunning and purely aesthetic statements. Designers such as Gucci, Saint Laurent and Chanel have adopted the trend and showcased the iconic jewellery pieces, further catapulting the trend into popularity. In the 19th century, Grand Tour brooches were becoming a popular item of jewellery for the upper classes who would travel through Europe, with the brooches acting as ornate souvenirs of the various cities including Venice, Florence, and Rome. The Grand Tour brooches acted as expressions of wealth and were detailed and ornate as they portrayed landscapes consisting of mosaics and semi-precious stones. Later, during the tumultuous twenties and thirties, dress clips became a beloved fashion accessory. With increasingly modern and awe-inspiring designs paving the way, the new generation of multi-purpose brooches featured proudly on the straps of evening gowns, day dresses, handbags, and blouses. These dress clips were becoming progressively more alluring and many featured precious gems. Brooches are also a staple in royal fashion, as worn by Princess Diana and Queen Elizabeth II.
Fascinators are often excessive and extravagant, and many of these monumental masterpieces seem to serve no other purpose than to gain the attention of onlookers. Although the term ‘fascinator’ only started to be commonly used to describe the iconic accessory in the 90s, they were immensely popular throughout the 20th century. Edwardian women would wear feather-adorned headpieces, embellished with artificial flowers, ribbons, and even stuffed birds. Following the First World War, 1920s flappers would flaunt breath-taking head accessories complete with feathers, jewellery, and brooches. In the decades following, fascinators became the go-to accessory for formal events.
In 1929, the first mass-produced sunglasses were sold, and since then, kaleidoscopic colours and dazzling designs have transformed sunglasses over the years. One of the key decades for revolutionary sunglasses designs was the 1960s. Many of the shades had Space Age influences and featured half-moon, oval, and even square shapes. Icons such as Audrey Hepburn and Jackie Kennedy popularised statement sunglasses. An example is in the 1961 movie, ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s’ when Audrey Hepburn’s famous Oliver Goldsmith sunglasses made quite the statement. Fashion trends from the 90s and 2000s featured uniquely small sunglasses that have made a great comeback over the last year.
Costume jewellery was introduced as an affordable alternative to expensive, luxury jewellery, and offers the aesthetic value, minus the cost. Costume jewellery, also known as ‘fashion jewellery’, was first introduced during the 18th Century, due to the growing demand for fine jewellery at an affordable price. Despite the initial concept being to imitate luxury jewellery and designs, today, designers such as Chanel, have introduced costume jewellery of their own that is still highly sought- after.
WRITTEN BY HANNAH MAE WEBSTER