Sunday, 15 December 2019

How to dress like a grown up with Shane Watson: Pearls

How to dress like a grown up with Shane Watson: Why pearls are having a moment

  • Shane Watson shared advice on wearing pearl earrings to look fresh and modern
  • She says a solid gold hinged hoop with a drop pearl is the look of the moment
  • A good place to shop the style is to head to Orelia, Posh Totty Designs or Mango

This week, a funny thing happened. I found myself drawn to the box at the back of the drawer containing a pair of earrings — mismatched, mini-egg-sized, cream and dark grey drop pearls on gold-plated hoops — bought from the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York in the Eighties.

I probably last wore these earrings 30 years ago. In all that time, I haven’t been able to find the right occasion to wear them, because they’re pearls, and pearls, as you’ve probably noticed, have been in jewellery Siberia.

Maybe you’ve been wearing them in the interim — the Queen certainly has — but I’m guessing that most of us who were neck and ear-deep in creamy pearls, who went from pearl studs to baroque drops topped with a grosgrain bow, and back to warm grey double drops, have been wearing anything but.

Pearly great: Shane says a fabulous gold and pearl earring (the pearl has to be a drop), worn for its own sake, suddenly looks fresh and modern like Jameela Jamil

We’ve forgiven shoulder pads, we’ve got back into frilly high collars and bold block colours and sheer tights (some of us have), but pearls until now have been a step too far.

However, the ones that sent me rushing home to find something vaguely similar, because they’re way beyond my budget, are by Jessie Thomas, striking hinged gold hoops with detachable pearls (made to order from £400, jessiethomas

I spotted them on a stranger, in a shop, who was wearing a rough grey polo neck, canvas sailor trousers and Blundstone work boots.

You see where I’m going with this? It’s now about the way you wear your pearl earrings, about the unexpected opulence of a fat pearl drop in daylight with a messed-up ponytail.

Had it been night time at a party, and had the stranger been wearing a lace dress with a fur shrug, the earrings might not have caught my eye.

The LBD, and the context, would have made them kind of ordinary, conservative even, precisely what we’ve been keen to avoid all these years.


  •  Go for small hinge hoops and bigger pearls.
  • The best pearl drops are baroque and irregular
  • Wear your pearl drops with jeans and at night.
  • Try a single pearl drop in one ear, a plain hoop in the other.

But now, a fabulous gold and pearl earring (the pearl has to be a drop), worn for its own sake, suddenly looks fresh and modern. Don’t worry, you don’t have to put away your pearl earrings at night. You’ll just wear them with a velvet suit and not much else.

This pearl moment is mainly about earrings — the easiest and most inexpensive option — and the look is simple and bold; no delicate tremblant seed pearls welcome, only ones you can see from the other side of the room.

A solid gold hinged hoop with a drop pearl is the look of the moment: Orelia does a 2cm gold-plated hoop with a pearl drop (£28, or you can get a similar style in 9ct gold from Posh Totty Designs (£89, poshtotty, the founder of which, Alice Rivers-Cripps, was one of Inspire’s Mumpreneur Award finalists this year.

And, believe it or not, my Met museum earrings are still on sale ($75 (£56), store.met The hoops can be small and tight to the ear (‘huggies’) or irregular and beaten (‘molten’ as they are called). Jigsaw has a good version (£35,

Baroque pearls are the ones that look a bit misshapen, like pearlised chewed gum, and they’re more dramatic and dressy. Mango’s pearl pendant earrings on a twisted hoop (£15.99, are more in that vein, as are the pia baroque pearl hoops (£80,

If in doubt, make sure the hoop is on the small side, 10mm is the ideal diameter — you want the pearls close to your face, not swinging around your collar bone.

One step further away from the formula, there are rose gold hoops with the pearl nestling inside the arc (£90, or assymetrical drop earrings from D.A.Y Boutique (Audrey, £29.90,

But if you have the money and want to go mad, the best variation on the theme would be the Rolls-Royce version of those Jessie Thomas hoops — with gold-capped pearl drops, like pearl acorns (from £695,

Something to work towards, then.

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