I’m a great fan of this style of earrings, and it has been fun to see them reappear on fashion radar screens again. The style: Earrings that that neither dangle nor hang from wires but instead adorn the ears at the level of the earlobes. But what to call them?
I’m not talking about stud earrings, those gemstones or miniature designs that fit entirely within the confines of the earlobes. Rather, I’m talking about more generously sized designs, often an inch or more in diameter, that perch on the earlobes.
Buttons or button earrings are one variation of this style. That name suggests one large center element on each earring, whether a flat disk or a domed shape. (Designs that incorporate utilitarian buttons, clothing fasteners, is, of course, another use of that name.)
Cluster earrings are another variation, this one suggesting a collection of three-dimensional elements brought together on a platform that rests against the earlobes.
As a collector of vintage jewelry, I have acquired many a pair of these earrings, which were popular adjuncts to multi-strand necklaces back in the 50’s and 60’s.
These earrings are especially wonderful for the more mature customer, as they bring the focus up to the level of the ears, near the wearer’s nose and mouth, rather than down around her jaw, chin and neck. For a woman with features that are tending toward sags and bags, this focus upward is a superb choice. These earrings distract from double chins and weathered necks.
Now young, fashion-forward women have discovered these earrings. Amusingly, and suggesting the age of the writers, the January 2009 issue of Lucky magazine reports “we all want . . . oversize ‘80s earrings.” The photo with the blurb is not of a genuinely vintage pair of earrings, but rather shows brand new, vintage-inspired, costume jewelry earrings by R.J. Graziano, price $125. Lucky calls these earrings “new-wave-ish” and says the wearing the earrings with jeans and a tee shirt is “defiantly glamorous.”
We’ve seen some beautiful examples of this style of earrings on celebrities at recent red carpet events, and it will be interesting to see if the trend continues at this year’s awards shows.
I do think that, if this look is to become trendy, it deserves a name. Neither “button earrings” nor “cluster earrings” is an accurate description of the majority of styles. “Clip-on earrings” is inappropriate for pierced versions and, aside from the findings, is not descriptive. “80’s-style” ignores that this style had its heyday back in the 50’s and 60’s. Does anyone have a better name for this wonderful style? I’d love to hear your ideas.Follow JCK on Instagram: @jckmagazine
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