Parsing Tim Gunn’s Advice to Buy a Necklace

People buy jewelry every day and for a myriad of reasons. To assist an indecisive customer, a successful retailer is able to address the customer’s questions and concerns as she or he mulls over a purchase.

I found it interesting to read the rationale for purchase of a necklace presented by Tim Gunn in his column “Gunn Laws” in the March 2010 issue of Marie Claire magazine. In his column, “everyone’s favorite Project Runway mentor solves all of your style conundrums.” The conundrum of relevance reads: “I’m interested in investing in a bib necklace, but will that trend be totally out next year?”

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Gunn thoughtfully addresses a number of points in his response. First, he puts the trend in the context of historical jewelry design. He notes that, while bibs are on-trend at the moment, the bib necklace “has a deep and distinctive lineage.” He continues: “I give you that context because the bib style isn’t merely fleeting; it’s with us for good. Therefore, you can opt to invest in a bib necklace whether it’s a hot item on the runway or not.”

Gunn next brings the question back to consideration of the customer’s visceral emotional and aesthetic response to the necklace: “If it’s calling your name, then by all means answer. We should consider ourselves fortunate to find items that have a meaningful resonance.”

Finally, he encourages the customer to consider elevating the particular item of jewelry to a signature piece or signature look: “If you choose to make the bib part of your fashion signature, all the better. Work it!”

The customer’s question is understandable, as bib necklaces have been in style for several seasons now. The customer may be coming relatively late to the party because she has been observing and coveting an item for a long time, but perhaps financially had to defer the purchase or perhaps had to be persuaded that the style is flattering to herself personally. If anything, that makes her purchase that much more delicious for the wait.

Understanding the context of a style of jewelry and its desirability over the decades-or even over centuries-adds to the perception of value of a piece of jewelry for the savvy customer who wishes to invest her style dollars wisely.

Recognizing that a piece of jewelry can have a meaningful resonance-priceless.