Pining for Pins: The Latest Looks with Brooches

With ladylike looks and retro references replete in the fashion press this season, brooches are the perfect adornment. Their versatility makes them an intriguing addition to any jewelry wardrobe.

The May issue of Town & Country includes a brief history of the brooch: “For maximum drama, Sophocles turned to a brooch. (It’s Jocasta’s pins that blind Oedipus.) But brooches were born out of necessity, used to fasten togas and cloaks. It was the embellishment-favoring Byzantines who began to decorate them with brightly colored enamel. Brooches hit a snag in the late 20th century, when they were spotted adorning the suit of one blue-haired lady too many. A contemporary chorus now gloriously heralds their return.” The brooches pictured are from Graff, Taffin by James de Givenchy, David Webb, Tiffany & Co., Van Cleef & Arpels, Verdura, and Cartier.

Since I last focused on brooches in the Jewelry Fashion File blog back in late November, the film The Iron Lady brought Meryl Streep her third Oscar for her portrayal of British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, and we got another peek at a very formal, traditional brooch styling on the lapel of a suit jacket. But brooches go far beyond that iconic look, pictured above in the February issue of Elle.  


Another iconic brooch placement, center of a blouse collar, appears on Elisa Sednaoui in the June issue of Vogue in a brief fashion spread highlighting the micro-trend of cut and cropped tops.

Actress Scarlett Johansson is styled in the May issue of Vogue wearing Sonia Rykiel glass pearl brooches at her shoulder and waist on a gown from Nina Ricci. Her diamond earrings are from Jean Schlumberger for Tiffany & Co, and she wears Christian Louboutin shoes.

Actress and champion poker player Jennifer Tilly is pictured in the May 7 issue of New York magazine wearing a black cocktail dress accented with a classically placed, eye-catching brooch that makes the look.

Model and singer Karen Elson appears in the April issue of Vogue in nearly head-to-toe Chanel. She wears a Chanel brooch as a tie clip in her ensemble, plus a necklace draped over one shoulder and a pair of cuffs from Chanel Fine Jewelry. Her platform heels are from Celine.

Seventeen-year-old actress Taissa Farmiga (the sister of Vera Farmiga)  is pictured in the March issue of InStyle wearing a pair of brooches at her waist and another at the shoulder of her lacy Oscar de la Renta dress. The top brooch is Lulu Frost vintage; the brooches at her waist are from Sequin. She also wears a XIV Karats Ltd Beverly Hills bangle bracelet.


Brooches accent the knit hats in ensembles by Marc Jacobs that are pictured in the March issue of Elle. All the jewelry accessorizing these looks (yellow and white diamond earrings; diamond, garnet, sapphire and emerald necklace; amethyst bangle; pink and yellow diamond ring with emeralds; diamond clip, earrings, necklace and bangle; sapphire and diamond bracelet; diamond and pink sapphire clip; and opal, rubellite and diamond necklace) is from Van Cleef & Arpels.

The March issue of Vogue reports that “forward-looking fashion has moved beyond minimal.” Decidedly not minimal is the vintage brooch from House of Lavande pictured with an Yves Saint Laurent ensemble. The oversize earrings and cuffs are from Alexis Bittar.


A brooch is fastened to a leather jacket from Straight to Hell modeled by 20-year-old actress Shailene Woodley in the March issue of Vogue. She wears a Chanel freshwater pearl brooch and an enamel ring from La Petite Princesse. She also wears a Joe Fresh top, Ammara skirt, and Stuart Weitzman pumps and carries a Furla satchel.

One of the most intriguing placements of a brooch was seen in the photo from the March issue of Town & Country I included in my post on tassels earlier this week, where a David Webb grasshopper clip is shown perched on the leg of a pair of pants.

One cautionary note about some of these stylings: Be sure that the material onto which the brooch is pinned has enough body to support the brooch, and that it has a weave or texture that will not be negatively affected by being pierced with the pin back. Adding a supporting bit of fabric and/or utilizing a magnetic adapter may resolve these issues.

Sophisticated and unexpected, the brooch can perch where other jewelry cannot go except when it avails itself of a pin or two to hold it in place. In that sense, the brooch is very much the jewel’s jewel.

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