The first in a 3 part series on Mod jewellery, starting with swinging, moving onto Classic Chrome and ending up all Glamorous. Marvellous…..
Not all Mods wear jewellery – certainly not most Mod blokes! But what is true about jewellery is that it is an accessory, and accessories are vital to Mod style, whether it’s a handbag or bracelet or a hat. Attention to detail is paramount. As with any accessory, you have to make sure it matches, and with the case of women’s Mod style, it means you really need lots of different pieces of jewellery to make sure that every outfit is accessorised well. A diamante bracelet will go nicely with a plain black dress, but not that well with a swirly paisley patterned shirt! And plastic daisy earrings would look daft with an early 60’s cocktail dress (unless you’re one of these lucky people who can carry anything off!).
Of course, it all depends on what jewellery you find. Even though original pieces of 60’s fashion are increasingly hard to come by, junk shops are literally heaving with pieces of 60’s (and 60’s-style) jewellery. You can find all different kinds – from big, plastic, square rings to small diamante necklaces. This means it’s up to you, to use your own discretion when matching these finds with the outfits you have.
If you’re what is known as ‘swinging’ or ‘psychedelic’, diamante and pearls are probably not your cup of tea. A quick look around you at any Mod night will tell you that most girls seem to be more along those lines than the early 60’s style. My own reading of this is that, because most Mod nights are in need of air conditioning, it’s far more comfortable to be wearing a shift dress than a suit or a roll neck or a cardigan. And as the shift dress figures so predominantly in the swinging and psychedelic look, it is perhaps little surprising that most girls at Mod dos adopt those looks. Especially in the case of younger Mod girls, the early 60’s look isn’t flavour of the month.
And so we enter the realm of plastic jewellery, seeing as most girls own this more than they do diamante and pearls. The range of jewellery available is only hindered by the imaginations of its manufacturers and designers. With the case of a material as chameleon as plastic, it is little surprising that so many styles can be found made with it.
Enormous rings are available made from plastic. Some of the best of these are slightly transparent, in colours such as orange or yellow. Following on from this, perhaps, was the fad (I don’t know, it might still be continuing) for wearing rings with huge lumps of amber set in them. And these are worn both by men and women.
Gigantic plastic earrings were very popular in the 60’s, as can be seen by the number of women wearing them in 60’s films (Adrienne Posta’s vast collection in ‘Up the Junction’ being a prime example!). I can’t claim to ever having seen a mod bloke wearing this type of earring, but who knows what some of the crazier element get up to…! One problem with wearing this type of earring is purely practical – they can feel quite heavy after a while, so make sure you have a handy pocket or handbag to stow them away in!
I own a pair of plastic daisy earrings which shout ‘swinging 60’s’ – perhaps rather to loudly, as you can see in the above photo! It is impossible to be subtle in plastic earrings, especially in the biggest size ones, which can reach down to your shoulders. This means that they must match what you are wearing – they are so obvious that if they don’t go, it will only emphasise your fashion faux pas. But that’s not to say you shouldn’t attempt this style. One way to carry the look off would be to wear a dress of the same colour as your earrings, or to wear bold, contrasting colours, such as white earrings with a black and white dress, or pink earrings with an orange dress with pink dots. You see what I’m getting at…. It might even be a good idea to match the colour of your plastic earrings with your shoes or handbag or other pieces of jewellery. This is where your own innate sense of style will dictate what you should do!
Plastic bangles are quite fantastic, and would be a good way of harmonising your plastic earrings with the rest of your outfit. They’re quite easy to find new on the High Street. Although that may make it seem like they’re not ‘exclusive’, at least by buying new, you can avoid the brittleness which you get with old items of plastic. I once had a 60’s necklace, with a black and white design in plastic, but it snapped! Boo-hoo!
So as long as your jewellery matches your clothes, and vice versa, you can’t go wrong.
© Helen Barrell 2001 – 2012 [Published 16 August 2001]
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