The current economy has certainly put a damper on our shopping habits, but you know what they say: When life gives you lemons, make lemonade. (Or, in this case, the look for less.)
The emphasis in fashion this season is on making a bold statement through timelessness and versatility, and nothing says timeless elegance quite like pearls. Forget the iconic single strands of pearls worn by Jackie O or Lisa Simpson, however: This season’s pearls are at once punky and feminine, layered and tinged with touches with lace, ribbons, and whimsy. Fashion is all about making something your own, and by simply adding ribbons and closures to existing pieces, you’re not only making something tired into something trendy, you’re recycling and reworking necklaces to fit your own unique sense of style.
With just a few bucks and a trip to your favorite charity shop or craft store, you can score the season’s hottest looks for less — like these five inspirations under $5, created by Shoestring staffers:
1. Brooches and Baubles Necklace (see above)
- Faux pearl or beaded necklace
- Clip-on earring
We found this layered faux pearl and glass bead necklace at Goodwill ($2.99). At the closure, we combined one earring from a set of vintage clip-ons from Salvation Army ($1) and a piece of white ribbon (left over from the holidays) to create this elegant look, which easily dresses up jeans and a T-shirt or a classic little black dress.
2. Not Your Mother’s Pearl Necklace
- Strands of mother-of-pearl discs
- Silver chain necklace
- Organdy ribbon
- Jump ring
- Small needle nose pliers
These three strands of mother-of-pearl ($3.99) came from Michael’s craft store. Using a jump ring, we attached the strands to a tiny silver chain, also from Michael’s, then tied it off with a piece of gold organdy spool ribbon (on sale for $0.50).
3. Navy Wife Pearl Necklace
- Single-strand pearl necklace, any length
- Velvet ribbon, any color (matching color to chiffon)
- Sheer chiffon ribbon, any color (matching color to velvet)
Pretty much every major retailer is selling a version of this single-strand pearl necklace, tied at the nape of the neck with a grosgrain ribbon. We created ours with a strand of faux pearls from a new local junk shop ($3.99) and added two pieces of navy blue ribbon ($0.50 each per spool). We paired one strand of velvet ribbon and one strand of sheer chiffon ribbon to add a bit more depth and texture, making the look feel more luxurious and dressy.
4. Sunrise, Sunset Necklace
- Double strand necklace of colored pearls or beads
- Coordinating satin ribbons (two colors)
- Clip-on earring
If spunky and splashes of color are more your thing, pink pearls are a classic choice. We found this double strand at Goodwill ($2.50) and wove two pieces of satin ribbon, one coral and one white, through the strands. We attached the pieces of ribbon together at the closure with the other half of our clip-on earring set ($1) to create this couture look.
5. Garden Blooms Necklace
- 1/2 yard organza fabric (any color)
- Silk Ribbon (coordinating color to organza fabric)
- Sewing scissors
- Pearl beads
- Needle & thread
- Fabric glue (optional)
Pearls don’t have to be the main focus of your necklace, either; they also make great accents. For this look, we bought half a yard of organza fabric in off-white at Jo-Ann Fabric ($1.89), cut out flowers of different sizes, and then layered them for volume. Each flower was then tacked on to a piece of ribbon and topped with a single pearl “bud,” sewn through the flowers to secure them to the silk ribbon necklace.
Story & Photos: Copyright 2009, Shoestring LLC.