I organized my jewelry drawer this morning. With two kids underfoot, I pulled out layers of old necklaces, new bracelets, ring organizers, missing earring backs and more. It was like unearthing a treasure chest! As I went through and inspected each piece, I thought about how I often mix my new jewelry and thrifted clothes together, and vice versa.
I very rarely wear an entire outfit that is comprised entirely of either new or thrifted pieces. Rather, I love to incorporate little touches of both in my wardrobe to keep it interesting and fresh. Here are a few rules and guidelines I like to stick to when getting dressed and put together for the day to make sure I look current and on-trend rather than stuck in a time capsule, or the alternative, an uber-modern dresser without a heart for vintage.
1. For the Everyday, Keep it Light
If it were up to me, as a mom of two kids under the age of five, I would wear just my wedding bands every day and call it done. Yet, I love the way I look and feel with a little something jingling on my wrist, so even on days when the most we do is go to the grocery store, I like to keep a few bangles close by.
On those days, I’m usually wearing a more modern outfit, typically leggings and a forgiving and oversized top. In that case, I like to play around with my jewelry and inject a little thrifted or vintage personality into it. Years ago, when I was a newlywed hitting up my favorite thrift store almost every day, I snagged a six-piece set of vintage, plastic floral stud earrings. They were in shades of pink, yellow and green and they literally go with almost every single piece of clothing I own. They’re obviously costume jewelry and the price point was incredibly low, so in the event that I do lose one by accident, I won’t be too worried. That freedom allows me to wear those studs almost every day, throw my hair up into a bun and get on about my business.
2. Reserve a Few Key Vintage Pieces
Some of my most treasured and beloved pieces of jewelry are those passed down to me by my late grandmother. I was fortunate enough to receive her antique floral brooch, which looks fabulous with a smart, fitted blazer. Other favorite items that I have from her collection include a few special tennis bracelets, a coral ring and a brown beaded necklace.
Now, unlike the floral studs described above, these aren’t toss-on-and-go pieces. Rather, they hold such meaning to me that I have a hard time even taking them out of the house, especially on days when it’s just me and the little ones and I have tiny hands grabbing at my hair or pulling on my wrist at all hours of the day. So, I reserve those pieces for special days out, such as date nights with my husband or a girl’s coffee breakfast with my best friend, when I know they’re relatively safe!
3. Balance the Costume Jewelry
Today, you can walk into almost any women’s apparel retail store and find a bevy of oversized beaded necklaces featuring standout pendants. These look awesome with solid tees and have become a wardrobe staple for girls around the world, and for good reason. You’ll also find many similar pieces for pennies at the thrift store, usually part of someone’s antique costume jewelry collection.
While these can be excellent on-the-go pieces (see #1 above), it’s important not to overdo them lest you look like a walking Rainbow Brite. As these pieces can be bright and bold, only one or two is plenty. So, stick with a necklace and minimal ear or wrist jewelry. Or, rock out a colorful set on your ears and stick to a thin chain on your neck. The idea is to balance the look so you appear both modern and cool, not overloaded by color.
4. Think Outside the Box
Did you know that when it comes to new jewelry and thrifted clothes, you don’t have to always follow the rules? The same goes when the jewelry is old but the clothes are new. For instance, try moving your necklace from your neck to your hair! Check out this list of five ways your favorite necklace can look awesome as a hair accessory. From a headband to a ponytail embellishment, the possibilities are endless! Keep in mind this is an especially pretty way to feature a piece of antique, jewel-encrusted jewelry. Just be sure to secure it with plenty of bobby pins before you go out!
You can also pin your favorite vintage brooch onto your pocketbook or bookbag, or use a set of bangles by pulling it around the ends of a flowy sweater, then tying those ends behind you. You know those fabulous clip-on earrings that look so pretty, but aren’t exactly your style (and plus, you have pierced ears)? Turn them into cocktail rings, clip them on your bracelet or necklace, decorate a picture frame and more! Use your imagination and don’t be afraid to get creative, especially if the pieces didn’t cost you that much.
5. Think in Sets and Piles
One of my favorite ways to wear my many bangles is piled high on my wrist, so the set hits about one-quarter of a way up my arm. I do the same thing with my favorite, dainty chain necklaces, stacking about three on top of each other, making sure the pendants on each are visible by layering strategically.
If you’re wearing a modern outfit, consider stacking a bunch of old eighties-style bangles up your arm to add a playful touch of vintage charm. Or, if you’re going more old-school with your attire, the layered necklaces can add an on-trend punch, especially if they’re in rose gold or sterling silver (14 karat gold can lean a little seventies in some cases). Either way, find pieces that work well together and wear them all at once, focusing on only one area of your wardrobe. Instant style statement!
Making New Jewelry and Thrifted Clothes Work
When your look is fresh, you’re able to play around with your jewelry as much as you want. Yet, you want to appear as though you took your time preparing your look, not like you just slapped it all together haphazardly. Take the time to consider what you’re wearing, what your jewelry options are and what statement you want to make. Chances are, you already have these tools in your closet and dresser. Take an inventory of your pieces and pair like items with each other. You could transform your week’s worth of outfits in five minutes flat!