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

Tanzy Ward


Brooches courtesy of the Zanathia Jewelry Collection


The glory days of the brooch are not gone. 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 finally included looks such as the black and gold engraved Victorian era mourning brooches and monogrammed c-clasp pins of the 1900s. The c-clasp pin had 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. Mid-century brooches became an everyday accessory to adorn dresses and sweaters. The 1950s cocktail brooch included highly curated designers such as DeLizza, Elster Juliana, and Weiss. Mid-century brooches/pins ranged from elegant bejeweled pieces to artsy/Brutalist designs handcrafted by artisans. By the end of the 20th century, there was a brooch for everyone and their style. No longer just considered an elegant 'high class' accessory, brooches are now a fun and refreshing way to accessorize an outfit or re-purpose it for another function. 
Brooches can be personalized to fit your unique style and re-purposed in many creative ways that sometimes may be overlooked. I love the versatile clips/pins and composed a list of refreshing ideas for wearing the classic accessory.
1. Take a Pin/Brooch and Turn it Into a New Pendant or Necklace. Many brooches/pins can be used as a pendant as well. I've found some brooches that also have an opening for attaching a chain or cord (a few are available at Zanathia Jewelry for purchase). You can also make a brooch a focal point for a plain choker, a vast modern trend. Taking a dainty Victorian pin and creating a new collar is a great modern way to re-purpose older accessories into refreshing looks. I love brooch/pendant hybrids a little better because they can be worn pinned on an outfit one day, then transformed into a unique pendant the next. This is also an excellent 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 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, like brooches. So, it would be a perfect match, depending on the scarf. This duo has many options and is 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 also be worn daily. 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 transform or re-purpose a brooch into a new hairpin completely.
6. Pair Pins/Brooches With Your Favorite Denim jacket or Coat. Since brooch designs range from pop art and retro elegance to abstract designs...pairing one with your favorite outerwear can be refreshing. 
7. Make A New Modern Bracelet. Recently, a remarkable trend has been securing vintage brooches to plain leather or metal cuff bracelets. The clip 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 an excellent 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 unique earrings, place a few on your favorite jeans, and glamorize a belt...the possibilities are endless. Antique and vintage brooches are unique, 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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