• Jacqui Williamson

One Brooch Many Ways

Updated: Jan 9, 2021

The focus for this post is on brooches, an underrated and well-kept fashion secret. Having experimented with styling a gold tone, wrapped wire, leaf sprig brooch from the 1970s for the purpose of this post. I thought it would be interesting to delve a bit more. Why are they so appealing?

Wire leaf sprig brooch on blouse G&BA

Many of us love fashion whether it’s straight from the catwalk looks, high street, vintage, our own version. Some of us hit all four. With fashion accessories giving us the option to individualize and update our clothing looks, change outfits from casual to smart, day to evening and being available to suit all budgets and ages, expressing your individual style has never been easier.

Brooches have existed since ancient times and were first seen during the period of some of the greatest African civilizations thousands of years ago, later appearing in Europe. Made from precious metals, inexpensive metals, alloys, precious stones, semi-precious stones, imitation stones, the material or style doesn’t affect the ability of a brooch to be striking nor beautiful.

It is interesting that so many styles are available and from so many eras, and with each era there have been common themes. During the Victorian era western brooches often featured floral/nature inspired motifs and swirls, and were made from many different materials. During the Edwardian era western brooches tended to be slightly less ornate than those in the Victorian times. 1920s and 30s Brooches were generally less blousy, with more straight lines and more obvious geometrical references. With the 40s things became more delicate in brooch design and pins and their look was often based on floral motifs. The 50s featured a mixture of styles and textures with the start of the Brutalist movement impacting on brooch design. 1960s Brooches were also popular in floral inspired designs, asymmetrical and Brutalist styles, and were often on the larger size. With the 70s came yet more abstract designs for brooches often featuring different textures. Asymmetry and a larger scale jewellery was still popular. During the 80s there was a huge trend for wearing brooches with men and women, the bigger the better, although they were favoured in many different styles and sizes. Diamante embellished brooches and enamel brooches were popular choices. The 1980s was the age of statement jewellery and bling. Brooches were often worn covering the top button on white shirts or on tailored boxy jackets, but this wasn’t the only fashionable way to wear them, they were worn everywhere and looked fabulous. Think Janet Jackson, Annie Lennox, Madonna and more recently fashion icons such as Michelle Obama, consistently one of the world’s best dressed women.

Brooches exist catering to all budgets whether they are new or second hand, when they were first worn they were a status symbol and were often worn as fastenings. These days they are often seen near the neckline area of tops, on winter coats, on or near the collar, try wearing them to ruche necklines and side seams to adjust the fit of your clothes. On denim brooches look amazing. Try pinning several grouped on a denim jacket in the chest pocket area. Add a statement brooch to the front of jeans in the double pocket area to create a more unusual look for casual outfit. Wear to secure woolly scarves during the winter months and on woolly hats to add interest to them. A pretty brooch worn on the brim of a hat or crown band really individualizes them for spring/summer, and autumn/winter styling. Wear a beautiful brooch to fasten a cardigan or shawl.

Brooch like additions have been seen on designer handbags, designer handbag straps and shoes for the past few seasons, not a new trend, but one that will always resurface. The list goes on. They are in my opinion one of the most versatile types of jewellery as they can in worn and used in a variety of ways. Having styled a golden wire leaf sprig brooch from the 1970s era to give you a few ideas, some outside of the norm, I hope to inspire you to start wearing brooches if you don't already. How will you wear yours?

Next post, makes for the retail shop opening in March 2020? Gwen and Bert's Attic are looking for crafters/makers local to Hertfordshire who wish to sell their items in a store on a well established and busy High Street. Look out for Gwen and Bert’s Attic on Insta, Pinter and Facebook. What have we been getting up to check out Gwen and Bert’s Attic Adventures on Insta and Pinter, it’s not all work and no play? Thanks for reading!

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Wire leaf sprig brooch on front of slip G&BA
Wire leaf sprig brooch styled on shoulder of slip G&BA

Another way to add interest to a black slip by ruching the shoulder with a statement brooch, or wearing one in the front to stop gaping and add an unusual touch.

Wire leaf sprig brooch on hat brim G&BA
Wire leaf sprig brooch on hat band G&BA

Try this on more structured hats, can you imagine this on a straw hat for summer or a felt fedora for winter, on beautiful, elegant hat for a wedding or other formal event.

Wire leaf sprig brooch on head wrap G&BA

Tie a colourful vintage blouse into a turban and add a stunning brooch for a unique look.

Wire leaf sprig brooch on belt G&BA
Wire leaf sprig brooch on cross body bag strap G&BA

70s Leaf sprig brooch added to cross body bag strap (left) and belt worn back to front (right).

Wire leaf sprig brooch on front of jeans G&BA

Wire leaf sprig brooch on inside shirt collar G&BA

Wire leaf sprig brooch on neck scarf G&BA

Wire leaf sprig brooch on rain coat collar G&BA
Wire leaf sprig brooch at rain coat neckline G&BA

Wire leaf sprig brooch on rain coat belt G&BA

Wire leaf sprig brooch on turban hat G&BA
Wire leaf sprig brooch on bikini top G&BA

A plain black bikini top and turban hat never looked so good...what brooch would you use?

Wire leaf sprig brooch on wrapped gift G&BA

Run out of topper ideas? Brooches make amazing toppers. Criss-cross two rows of velvet ribbon and add your brooch of choice for unusual gift presentation.

Wire leaf sprig brooch embellishing bow on bottle G&BA
Wire leaf sprig brooch embellishing a cushion G&BA

Gift giving? Why not present your bottle with a bow and brooch, how chic does this look? The brooch pinned onto a plain black cushion completely changes how it looks.

Wire leaf sprig brooch embellishing head band G&BA
Wire leaf sprig brooch embellishing vtg hand bag G&BA

Add a brooch to a vintage handbag or to ruche your head band, great for summer or winter.

Wire leaf sprig brooch worn on ribbon at neckline G&BA

A length of ribbon tied into a large bow and embellished with a leaf sprig brooch from the 1970s era makes simple choker style necklace.

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