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Days of The Brooch Are Not Over: Modern Refreshing Ways to Use Brooches & Pins

Tanzy Ward



The glory days of the brooch are not gone. In fact, there are new refreshing ways to wear them for endless inspiration. In ancient times, brooches were used as a functional item to hold pieces of cloth together, but by the 14th century many wealthy people wore them with gemstones as a social status statement. Eventually, brooches became a popular accessory created with imitation stones such as rhinestones. As time went on, the aesthetic of the brooch eventually included looks such as the black and gold engraved Victorian era mourning brooches and monogrammed c-clasp pins of the 1900's. The c-clasp pin included a lock that kept the pin more secure. As the 20th century continued, the materials used to create brooches became less expensive and more affordable to all people. Mid century brooches became a common accessory to adorn on dresses and sweaters. The 1950's cocktail brooch included highly curated designers such as DeLizza & Elster Juliana and Weiss. Mid century brooches/pins went on to range from bejeweled elegant pieces to artsy/Brutalist designs handcrafted by artisans. By the end of the 20th century, there was a brooch for everyone and their personal style. No longer just considered an elegant 'high class' accessory, brooches are now a fun & refreshing way to accessorize an outfit or re-purpose for another function. 

Brooches can be personalized to fit your unique style and re-purposed in many creative ways that may be overlooked at times. I love how versatile brooches/pins are, and composed a list of refreshing ideas for wearing the classic accessory.


1. Take a Pin/Brooch & Turn Into a New Pendant or Necklace. Many brooches/pins can be used as a pendant as well. I've come across some brooches that also have an opening for attaching a chain or cord (a few available at Zanathia Jewelry for purchase). You can also make a brooch a focal point for a plain choker, which is a great modern trend. Taking a Victorian dainty pin and creating a new choker is a great modern way to re-purpose older accessories into refreshing looks. I personally love brooch/pendant hybrids a little better because it can be worn pinned on an outfit one day, then transformed into a unique pendant the next. This is also a great idea for broken/damaged brooches.

2. Pin Statement Brooches to Your Bags/Purses. A plain neutral tone bag could be revamped into a new exciting look with a few brooches/pins. Pairing a black bag with a gold brooch or your favorite geometric abstract pins are great modern ways to reuse brooches you don't want to wear on your clothes. Since there are so many different brooch looks, the bag can be customized to fit your own personal taste depending on what styles you like.

3. Accessorize a Hat or Cap with a Brooch or Two. I think a hat is a perfect way to wear an old brooch. Brooches can look great paired with a knit skull cap, wool beret, or tam. 

4. Style Your Scarf with Brooches. Scarves come in all sizes, designs,and colors just like brooches. So, it would be a perfect match depending on the scarf. There are many options with this duo, and one of the most versatile ways to wear a brooch.

5. Decorate Your Hair With a Pretty Brooch. Hair ornaments are not just for formal occasions, but can be worn on a daily basis as well. Brooches worn in the hair can include a variety of styles, such as 'boho-earthy' or 'retro-glam'. Just attach it to a large clip or hair comb if you don't want to completely transform or re-purpose a brooch into a total new hair pin.

6. Pair Pins/Brooches With Your Favorite Denim jacket or Coat. Since brooch designs range from pop art, retro elegance, to abstract designs...pairing one with your favorite outerwear can be refreshing. 

7. Make A New Modern Bracelet. Recently, there is a cool trend of securing vintage brooches to plain leather or metal cuff bracelets. The brooch is usually the focal point of the bracelet. I think this is a great idea and very eye catching as well. This is one of my favorites, and is a cool way to preserve and recycle vintage goods while bringing a new life to them. 

8. ....And A Plethora Of Other Options! Create a new statement ring, pair multiple smaller brooches close to each other, decorate your favorite notebook/scrapbook, accessorize a pillow, create new earrings, place a few on your favorite jeans, glamorize a belt...the possibilities are endless. Antique and vintage brooches are amazing versatile accessories to preserve and re-purpose. They are sustainable, refreshing in modern times, and can be continuously worn to create new memories. 

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