The year 2022 is in full swing and all the fashion trends that were predicted last year have come to fruition. One of those trends, casual pearls, is making an appearance on and off the runway. We're seeing them on basic t-shirts, cardigans, jewelry, handbags, and other accessories.
When most people think of pearls, they’re quickly reminded of Queen Elizabeth II, Audrey Hepburn (in Breakfast at Tiffany’s), Jackie Kennedy, and Coco Chanel. All of these women are considered to be sophisticated, fashion moguls who wear pearls or wore pearls to signify importance and luxury.
But pearls have taken a slightly different approach in 2022, with pearls being worn more casually. Gone are the days when pearls are only worn on special occasions or seen as a status symbol. Now, pearl jewelry, in particular, can be worn with cutoff shorts or graphic t-shirts.
Ahead, learn more about how to casually wear pearls in the new year and why they’ve earned their claim to fame.
The History of Classic Pearls
Pearls are the world’s oldest gemstone that can be traced back to the year 420. In 1893, pearls became more accessible and companies were creating them on farms. Still, pearls continued to be seen as a status symbol and wealth.
In the 21st century, runway models began wearing pearls to reclaim outdated "mother's pearls" and turn them into cool fashion pieces.
Pearls are no longer seen as just "ladylike." In 2018, baroque pearls were displayed on the runway in various shapes, colors, and sizes. Designers like Sonia Rykiel, Alexander McQueen, Phoebe Philo reinvented baroque pearls to look edgy, mismatched, and imperfectly perfect.
By 2021, faux pearls in costume jewelry were so commonplace. Today, people still wear pearls with a little black dress or blazer with leggings, but they also wear them with casual outfits and street style.
Styling Casual Pearls
From pearl chokers to pearl rings, there are many ways to style casual pearl accessories. Below are a few styles that we absolutely love.
Pearl Drop Earrings: Antique with a modern twist, the gemma pearl drop earrings can be worn with a casual look.
Long Pearl Necklace: Carolina Wong's pearl lariat necklace features small natural white freshwater pearls and 14K recycled gold wire. It also comes with whimsical and colorful charms.
Baroque Pearls: This necklace is handmade with white baroque white pearls and 14k gold-plated beads and clasp. The designer, FARRA Jewelry, is known for freshwater pearls, natural crystals, gemstones.
Single Strand Pearl Necklace: Single strands don't have to be plain and boring. Take this long pearl necklace for example: It features 14k gold plated coral and shell charms that add a modern twist to a typical string of pearls.
How to Wear Casual Pearls
Take a cue from Harry Styles and wear pearls over a chunky sweatshirt or a graphic t-shirt. At night, you can mix it up with a fun blazer or cardigan.
Billie Eilish is also a big fan of casual pearls. She's been seen wearing a subtle pearl choker under sweatshirts and tank tops.
This month, Machine Gun Kelly (who recently got engaged to Megan Fox), walked the Milan runway for Dolce & Gabanna wearing a white silk double-breasted suit covered in pearls. In 2020, he was also seen wearing pearls in the form of a choker over a sleeveless pink turtleneck.
If you take a walk down the streets of New York, you'll see casual pearls worn by teens and adults alike. In a way, people are reclaiming this look that was once reserved by Julius Caesar for the ruling class in ancient Rome. Anyone who is anyone can wear pearls, which was also seen for a while as a woman's only accessory.
In ancient history, men wore pearls all the time, but in modern years it was considered to be "feminine." We're happy to see that men have adapted this trend again that contributed to a senseless gender stereotype. The New York Times called this movement of men wearing pearls a "gateway to genderless fashion."
However, kids have yet to wear pearls casually. Some parents will pierce their baby’s ears with pearl studs, but in general, they reserve pearl necklaces for newborn/infant photoshoots. Parents who like to make their babies look more sophisticated hop on this photoshoot trend, but we've yet to see babies wear pearls casually. For now, pearls (real or costume!) are typically reserved for adults. But we’ve still come a long way. At least now, boys and non-binary people feel confident to wear pearls.
You can find more handmade pearl jewelry by independent designers at idPearl.
- By Bonnie Azoulay