I'm like a rhinestone cowgirl
December 10, 2010 7:28 AM   Subscribe

Is it irredeemably tacky to wear fancy, vintage rhinestone and sparkly jewelry in the daytime? I have a lovely, large collection that I want to show off. BUT, I never do fancy "evening" occasions.

I love my collection of vintage jewelry (most of it inherited). I consider it an integral part of my style, and wear clothes that are very simple in line and color the better to frame my fabulous pieces.

But some statements in this Metafilter question here give me pause. "Serious jewelry is only for nighttime."

Trouble is, I just do not DO nighttime. I go out in the evenings, yes, but due to my personal tastes and the tastes of my close friends, even my nighttime events are mostly casual. I go to a really dressy occasion maybe once a year, tops. The rest of the time I go out to bars/casual clubs to listen to bands (and it's jeans time) or go to potlucks (and it's jeans time) or my favorite Thai place (and, again, jeans time). And because of my clientele, even annual work parties are low-key.

I'm normally a fashion renegade and say "nuts to What Not To Wear!" but I can't afford to be so out of step or inappropriate that people laugh at me behind my back, or don't take me seriously or think I'm "chavvy" (or the US equivalent).

I really do not want to leave my pride and joy sitting in a drawer. My current solution is to wear only one sparkly piece (like a necklace, earrings or brooch) at one time and keep everything else simple. Any other "sparkle hacks?"
posted by Rosie M. Banks to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (21 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I don't think it's at all inappropriate, especially given the popularity of vintage jewelry and "statement necklaces" in the last few seasons. But I'm a big fan of cultivating your own personal style and it sounds like that's exactly what you're doing.
posted by alicetiara at 7:32 AM on December 10, 2010 [1 favorite]

One at a time is a good rule to follow. I don't know anything about your personal style, but jeans and a fitted black t-shirt under a cardigan fastened by a sparkly brooch should be appropriate for any casual occasion (plus, there's nothing wrong with being slightly overdressed for anything, if you do it with a sense of humor).
posted by oinopaponton at 7:37 AM on December 10, 2010 [1 favorite]

I really hope that this is okay because I do it all the time. So long as your sparkly beauties more or less coordinate with your clothes, I think you'll be fine.
posted by orrnyereg at 7:38 AM on December 10, 2010

If it is particularly fine jewelry, then I would shy against piling it on while wearing it with jeans.

You know what I suggest? Get a pair of really, really nice and stylish jeans. Then you could wear more than a single piece without it looking too show-offy. Although, even then, don't do a necklace and earrings.
posted by griphus at 7:38 AM on December 10, 2010

Response by poster: @Griphus: Almost all my pieces are either rhinestones or semi-precious stones like turquoise. No big diamond rocks or anything. (The city girl in me doesn't like wearing expensive precious stones out in to public venues in the evening, especially when I'm walking several blocks to BART). It's GOOD rhinestones, not Claire's-type pieces.

I think the idea of getting a really GOOD pair of jeans is terrific. I've just recently arrived at the financial point where I can spend on stuff like jeans.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 7:43 AM on December 10, 2010

Best answer: Stylist Kelly Framel (the glamourai) is an excellent source of inspiration for over-the-top accessorizing in style - she frequently piles on several pieces of vintage jewelry in her daywear.

Also she posted a great article on toning down the bling factor of rhinestone jewelry through DIY antiquing.
posted by kitkatcathy at 7:44 AM on December 10, 2010 [6 favorites]

Response by poster: "Out in to?" Gah. I need another cup of coffee before I abuse any more prepositions.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 7:45 AM on December 10, 2010

If it is semiprecious stuff, then you can definitely put on a bit more than if it were diamonds, which are the Serious Business you don't want to OD on. I'm not sure how old you are, but be careful, however. The piled-on thing looks cute when you're in your 20s, but veers into "immature" quickly afterward unless you've got a developed eclectic thing going on.
posted by griphus at 8:04 AM on December 10, 2010

I think putting your own unique style out there is always a good idea, in fashion or otherwise. It makes life a lot more interesting, for you and for everyone else who observes you doing your own thing. Also, people who are not afraid to be different exude dignity. Also, I doubt you would be laughed at, especially since it seems like this fashion choice is very intentional and deliberate, rather than a tacky accident or something along those lines.
posted by thegreatfleecircus at 8:08 AM on December 10, 2010 [2 favorites]

i say go for it. sounds like to me you have a good sense of your own personal style and don't work in an extremely conservative industry that would frown upon you being a little on the shiny side of things.

I think the rules have relaxed the years - people wear tights with sandals for heavens sake! And white after labor day! and black to a wedding! Horror!

If you were a banker or an attorney i would say dial it back. As it is, if you keep your clothing on the simpler side of things i bet you will look great.
posted by domino at 8:08 AM on December 10, 2010

Response by poster: To clarify a few things:

- I've kissed 40 goodbye many years ago and am now pushing 50.

- I do not work in a conservative industry unless I take one on as a client. (I was actually told by a mentor that in my field - a cousin to psychology - that looking too formidable and "suity" is a bad thing as I need people to confide in me. So a unique, fun look is actually a plus.)
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 8:14 AM on December 10, 2010

Best answer: I think this is more a case of you deciding, first, where your own comfort level is, and second, "what is Rosie M. Banks' personal style brand, and how can it incorporate all her lovely jewels"?

There will always be some persons (where X > 0) who think that fancy, sparkly jewelry in the daytime or in the workplace is chavvy or tacky. Those people are already offended at the one sparkly piece you wear with restraint.

There will always be some persons (where X > 0) who think that fancy, sparkly jewelry is just fine any old time, in any setting or quantity, and if you own it, you should wear it, whether to Wal-Mart or a state dinner—and screw those who would judge you.

Somewhere in the middle of those extremes is where your particular set of circumstances falls: your workplace + your colleagues + your industry + your social life and the people in it + your self-image.

In my opinion... (and, admittedly, even though I myself am no fashion plate, I am someone who does in fact closely observe the sartorial and tonsorial choices of others. Sometimes, I can read a lot about a person's personality, aspirations and upbringing based on his or her appearance. And like it or not, there are many like me out there in the real world, outside the safe confines of MetaFilter where "free to be you and me" is the norm.)

...the key is not to try and determine the magical arbitrary number X of fun pieces that you can wear acceptably... and more about how to make vintage jewelry an overall part of your everyday personal look, so that someone is inclined to think, "I'm so envious that Rosie can always rock that [quirky/vintage/retro/period] look with such style and confidence," rather than, "Ohhhh. Rosie sure seems to be 'country mouse come to town' today with all that trashy bling on. Tsk-tsk." (which, yes, f--- that person, but she is out there.)

This might mean finding other great vintage pieces that you can incorporate comfortably into your daytime looks (i.e. without looking costume-y), which flatter you, enhance your jewelry, and begin to serve as the "canvas" for your gems. Some quickie examples: Jackie O glasses. Vintage gold cardigan, made modern and casual with dressy denim and a plain white T. A fabulous print bag. Marilyn Monroe's simple and sophisticated turtleneck + capris ensemble. Then, it's not that you're wearing a bunch of chavvy bling, but that you have a cohesive style happening that pays homage to 20th century fashion.

On preview -- yes, exactly, as griphus said: if you "develop" an "eclectic" thing, then you can wear almost anything you like without fear, because it's been made your own style.

Two other thoughts I had:

Maybe you could take your casual-evening look up one notch from jeans? Not all the time, because then it will feel costume-y and people will think you're "trying on a persona". But if you just said to yourself, "Okay, out of the next four times I wear jeans out, I'm going to try to switch over instead to a skirt and tights, or some trousers, at least once." If you take your casual looks up slightly on the dressy scale, then you can get away with more jewels.

And... maybe you can bring out your collection more by wearing it in unusual ways. Put one of your bracelets onto a pair of bobby pins and wear it in your hair, maybe across a messy chignon. Or turn it into a sweater clip. Pin a glam brooch onto the fabric of your clutch bag.

I personally cannot wear sparkly stones during the day, other than stud earrings and my wedding set. It's one of the things that my mother would disapprove of, along with white after Labor Day and pantyhose with open-toed shoes and showing décolleté in a church. But I realize those aren't the Right Way or the Wrong Way... just a product of my own stuffy upbringing. Those very close to me have not been afraid to observe aloud that my personal style is so conservative and stuffy as to be boring and schoolmarmish, which is clearly not any sort of ideal. I use this as an example of how The Rules really mean nothing; following them is about meeting the fashion concerns of other people at the expense of one's own style. Far preferable is to have a look that is flattering, confidence-inspiring, and reflective of one's personality.

If I were to see someone else wearing sparkly stones during the day, the only thing I would notice was whether it made sense with her overall look... or did it seem like an afterthought, one that doesn't seem to fit the situation or outfit.

On preview again: sorry this got so long and chatty. Apparently I have a lot of thoughts about style, fashion and one's psyche. Send me a bill for the hour, thanks, doc!
posted by pineapple at 8:31 AM on December 10, 2010

I'm in my twenties, and if I wear my (also collected and cherished) sparkly costume jewellery in the daytime, I look like I'm playing dress-like-the-grown-ups.

If, by the time I'm 50, I can't wear that stuff without caring too much what people think, and look like a glittery superfly diva, I will have gone waaaaay off my life-plan.
posted by greenish at 8:35 AM on December 10, 2010 [1 favorite]

The basic reason you're not supposed to wear fancy vintage pieces during the day is simply that they tend to look better under softer, yellower light. Sunlight can be harsh on rhinestones. Since you have such lovely pieces, it would be a pity to do them the disservice of trying to show them off when they will not look their best.

I'm totally on the "good jeans" train. You don't need to do "fancy" evening occasions to bring out your nice pieces! My environment is pretty casual, but even the blues bar can find people in a nice blazer and slacks.
posted by endless_forms at 8:42 AM on December 10, 2010

I don't think anybody's going to laugh behind your back. Especially if, as you say, most of your friends are pretty casual.

I think you should wear what you like - if you think it looks good, go for it! But here's another idea. I have a few friends who like to dress up. Even though my social circle is, like yours, pretty casual. Showing up at any given dinner party, drinks night, etc. I might be in a simple top and jeans with sneakers, while someone else is in a sequined miniskirt. If you have jewelry you want to wear that needs a more sophisticated "evening" look, why not just cultivate that sort of style, for when you go out with friends in the evening? So what if you're the only one that looks fancy?

In other words I think it's more important for your jewelry to match the rest of you than it is for your overall appearance to match that of your friends.
posted by Sara C. at 8:45 AM on December 10, 2010

Best answer: There are a number of ways vintage rhinestone jewelry could work just fine during the day. It depends on your personal style. You could do one big sparkly accessory with a toned-down simple outfit. You could just dress in quirky and unexpected ways generally, with the jewelry being one part of that. Or you could have an overall vintage-y style. That's what I first pictured when I read this: heels, pencil skirt, frilly silk blouse with a little cardigan and a big sparkling pin on it. Or your hair in an updo with a sparkly clip in it and rhinestone earrings.

The chavvy/trashy/tacky way of wearing jewelry is (to my mind anyway) huge bling and heavy gold with jeans or sweatpants. Modern jewelry, that looks just bought, custom made with your name on it in diamonds. I don't equate that style with vintage at all. At worst you might look eccentric, but I doubt you'd look trashy.

On preview: I just noticed you said you wear simple clothes, and it occurred to me that J Crew catalogs show a lot of simple lines and colors paired with really large faux-vintage jewelry. Adjusted for ridiculous combinations of shorts with ties and 12 year old models, that kind of thing might give you some ideas. (And J Crew's not particularly original - I'm sure if they combine those things other brands do as well.)
posted by DestinationUnknown at 8:54 AM on December 10, 2010

One's outfit should always be either effortlessly tasteful or gleefully ridiculous. Either choice is equally correct.

One piece of jewelry is effortlessly tasteful. On the other hand, just absolutely dripping with costume jewelry will make you look a bit eccentric, but the best kind of eccentric - the gleefully ridiculous kind.

And there are no fashion rules which you cannot safely ignore as long as you can work it.

You'll know if you can work it if the look you've selected both looks good to you and is in character. This sounds like it would do both.

So get out there, Ms. Banks, and sparkle like a chandelier. If anyone gives you guff (no one will give you guff), tell them FAMOUS MONSTER said it was okay.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 9:00 AM on December 10, 2010 [2 favorites]

I have a former coworker who inherited a large number of sparkly rhinestone pieces from her mother or grandmother. Every day she would wear a single piece to work, as it sounds like you are doing; her other clothes were simple, stylish, and well-tailored, usually in solids, tweeds, or heathers (not prints or plaids).

I always thought she looked fantastic and was excited to see what piece she'd wear every day. So data point in favor of awesome, fun, and appropriate.
posted by athenasbanquet at 9:20 AM on December 10, 2010

Echoing what others have been saying, you are already doing fine. In my opinion, big large costume jewelry are best when worn alone because it's about coordinating your style and people respecting your look. Fine jewelry tend to be smaller and petite, but could be flashy like costume pieces. You could take a few more liberties with that kind of jewelry but the whole point is keeping it simple if you want your style to be respected.
posted by InterestedInKnowing at 9:42 AM on December 10, 2010

You can do whatever you want.
posted by cmoj at 10:54 AM on December 10, 2010 [1 favorite]

I think you should be true to yourself. Less is more and timid styling is all very well if that is you. However if you are a rhinestone kinda gal then, subtle doesn't work.
I think you should just take one lovely piece and be sure to match a colour from the jewellery with an item of clothing - a top or jacket.

Alternatively fly to PARIS or ROME and this would not be a issue, they would love you.

I wear a flower on my jacket or coat every day. I love to dress up - it reflects my personality. If someone says smart casual or worse still dress casually- I panic! So be brave, add a little frosting it will do no harm.
posted by nineteenthirty at 2:23 PM on December 14, 2010

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