“Pearls are always appropriate.”
So goes Jackie Kennedy’s famous remark, and who’s going to dispute her? Certainly not Audrey Hepburn or the Queen of England, who both donned them regularly.
If you think you’ve been seeing more pearls around lately, you’re not wrong. Pearls are having a moment. Again.
But the current crop is not your grandmother’s pearls, or Queen Elizabeth’s, for that matter. So what is the latest iteration, then?
“I call it a high-low hybrid,” Stolch says. “We take something ‘high’ — conventionally more dressy, classic, timeless and polished — and combine it with something ‘lower’ like a T-shirt or streetwear. I love the play of pearls mixed with interesting fabrics like a leather jacket or with suede or lace giving it contrast.”
That anything-goes spirit also extends to mixing in other jewelry types.
“I’ve seen quite a few designers pair pearls with mixed metals or in layered necklaces,” says Atlanta-based personal stylist Rachel Nicole.
Some of her favorite jewelry brands with a modern take on pearls are Rebecca Pinto (“who has beautiful freshwater pearls within her collection”), AUREUM (“a trendy brand right now at a good price”) and Dylan Lex (“especially for big, chunky pearls”).
But there’s also no need to spend a fortune on real pearls. The ones popping up on social media — gracing the necks, ears and hairstyles of Gen Z fashionistas — are playful, often low-priced options from Urban Outfitters or Anthropologie. In fact, Nicole recommends that you try faux pearls before investing in the real ones to see if you like them first.
Here are several ideas for how to incorporate pearls (at various prices) into your look.
Wes Earrings and BENI necklace, Dylan Lex
The modern, fashion-forward way to wear pearls is to add dimension to your look by mixing them with metals. Anything goes here, be it gold, silver, rose gold etc. — and feel free to mix darker and lighter pearls. In other words, the look is the complete opposite of a stuffy, stiff, classic pearl necklace.
“For a woman who thinks of pearls as something that only someone older than her would wear, this way of wearing them is much more conducive,” says Stolch.
Arya Silver Pendant Necklace in White Pearl , Kendra Scott
Pearls are so versatile that you can use them to play up any style type. The look in the photo above involves a subtler mix of jewelry, but it still manages to present the pearl necklace in a modern way.
“I’ve noticed that many brands pair a silver chain with a pearl,” Nicole says. But here, the silver chain is being worn alongside two gold ones. “And see how the chains are staggered there?” she asks. “Mixing necklaces in a staggered way [lets you] see all of them.”
Buy Arya Silver Pendant Necklace in White Pearl at Kendra Scott for $60.
Pearl Drop Earrings, Anthropologie
Pearl drop earrings like the ones above have long been associated with a bridal look, but not anymore.
“You don’t have to save statement earrings like that for a special occasion,” Nicole says. “You can wear them with a cool blazer and a T-shirt, and elevate [your outfit] with a fun little pop.”
Buy Pearl Drop Earrings at Anthropologie for $48.
Draped Pearl Organza Hair Bow Double Barrette, Urban Outfitters
The modern pearl trend isn’t limited to necklaces and earrings, either.
“If a pearl necklace feels too obvious or overt, you could have hints of it in other places,” Stolch says. “You could do hair side clips or a really cute pearl headband.”
Buy Draped Pearl Organza Hair Bow Double Barrette at Urban Outfitters for $15.
Nora Pearl Choker, Cult Gaia
And if you’d like to wear a statement choker like the one above?
“This you might wear with a boatneck dress or a jumpsuit — something a little more elevated,” Nicole says.
Buy Nora Pearl Choker at Cult Gaia for $248.
Mini Nugget Pearl Beaded Necklace, Monica Vinader
Nicole is all for pairing pearls with a T-shirt. But in that case, she says, “I’d probably do one string.” A super-trendy look of the moment is a necklace that’s half pearl, half metal, like the one pictured above.
“If you’re wearing a V-neck and you have that negative space there, adding a pop of a pearl adds a little bit of fun.”
Buy Mini Nugget Pearl Beaded Necklace at Monica Vinader for $175.