Whilst shopping for spontaneous vintage finds in the upscale Notting Hill area of London – and after being dazzled by the likes of Chanel’s signature little black tweed jacket – I passed by a store that presented many strings of endearing beauty. My single most adored fashion item hung in the windows of the shop, luring me in with their elegance and modesty.
Pearls. Oh sweet pearls!
As it turns out, my day of vintage shopping ended in two purchases, both technically non-vintage but vintage enough for me. A pair of pearl earrings and a long string of pearls rested neatly in my purse as I bounced my way merrily back towards the tube. Having purchased my first “rope” of pearls – which refers to the longest string in pearl terminology – I quickly decided that I agreed with Coco Chanel: “A woman needs ropes and ropes of pearls.”
There’s something about pearls that have always captivated me. Perhaps it was the rope of pearls around Carrie Bradshaw’s neck as she settled into bed next to Big, or perhaps it was the scene with her gallant scanter to Miranda’s house in her pyjamas, her string of pearls bouncing as she greeted her friend just in time to ring in the new year. Maybe on a subconscious level I’ve been influenced by the fashion statements of the iconic Audrey Hepburn, or maybe on some level I’ve always understood the historic value of these natural gemstones. (Though I certainly hadn’t realized that two pearl necklaces once funded the purchase of Jacques Cartier’s landmark store on 5th Avenue in the early part of the twentieth century nor did I know that pearls were once reserved exclusively to adorn the noble rich).
Whatever the reason, I’ve always loved them. And somehow pearls haven’t lost their classic reputation, adding a demure look to ladies everywhere. From the time I received my first pearl necklace (as a family tradition of sorts) from my mother on my 21st birthday, I’ve been unable to shake them from my daily ensemble. They’ve so become a part of me and my image that I don’t feel whole unless I have my pearl earrings in, and should I be tempted to wear something more extravagant for a particular outing, I’m regretful always. When it comes to jewelry, the old saying proves itself true: sometimes less is more. And what I love most about the look is that pearls match with virtually everything: whether with jeans and a tank top or an evening dress, pearls are always a wise choice.
And a woman unleashed can do anything in pearls: from scrubbing the spilled coffee off the kitchen floor, to falling in love, to conquering the world.