Consider the earrings in the first autumn 2009 ads of the season from the Ralph Lauren Collection, as appearing twice in the August issue of Town & Country and other magazines.
It appears that the Ralph Lauren brand, which normally is the archetype of the sporty personality style, is designing against type, and not just with these glittering danglers. Although both photographs show the model in a tweed coat perfect for the sporty country life, in both photos the model’s neck is wrapped and rewrapped in layers upon layers of fabric, one version that looks like ruffled silk; the other with unfinished edging of lace that bears resemblance to an old-style ruff around the neck.
The romantic feeling of the fabrics around the neck is reaffirmed with the addition of the long drop earrings, which mimic diamonds and would be more usual accessorizing an evening gown than a tweed country ensemble. Not only is the pairing unexpected, but the earrings have insufficient room to hang properly as they are hampered by the yards of fabric wound around the wearer’s neck.
When I first saw these ads, it struck me that the ruffs may be an extension of the popular trend of wearing long scarves, sometimes worn wrapped several around the neck. Indeed, in the August 2009 issue of InStyle magazine, actress Rachel Bilson identifies one of her favorite trends from the fall runway shows as the tube scarf: “It’s supercute and so easy to wear. You don’t have to worry about how to tie your scarf—it’s already done for you!” The magazine includes runway shots from Helmut Lang and Burberry Prorsum featuring versions of this neck accessory. Neither of the runway models wears earrings. A $750 wool and silk tube scarf from Burberry featured in a close-up photograph looks to be significantly more textured and less voluminous than the version seen on the runway.
As a former Chicagoan who walked to work year-round, I can attest that the tube scarf, designed to wrap closely around the neck, is a marvelously practical accessory for anyone who spends time outdoors in cold weather but still wants to look put-together. It’s certainly not a new concept. What is new, and in my opinion doesn’t work so well, is putting a pair of drop earrings with the scarf.
The diamante earrings shown in the Ralph Lauren Collection ads are reticulated, fashioned in a two-part triangle shape with a rounded bottom edge. Notice on the second photo that the earrings relate well to the features of the model wearing them—they repeat the size and are reminiscent of the shape of her nose and the rounded edge relates to her rounded jawline. The earrings also relate to the thickness and shape of her slightly asymmetrical eyebrows. The earrings would be perfectly lovely on that woman wearing the right outfit—one that allows the earrings to hang properly and not risk getting tangled in lace.
Think of earrings as being like a fine wine… both need to be savored and both need to be allowed to breathe!
p.s. In putting together the photos for this article, I came across an ad for Ralph Lauren from one year ago, August 2008. Again, the ad features a swaddled neck, but notice the appropriately small earrings that don’t interfere with the fabric around the neck. That ensemble, along with the earrings, are classic choices for the sporty personality style.