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As a little girl, some of my most treasured memories took place at my grandparents’ house. I have fond recollections sitting beneath their big magnolia tree and standing in their garage, watching my grandfather roar his prized, red MG convertible to life. But the most precious moments took place at my grandmother’s dressing table. My grandmother is not the most fancy of ladies, but she loves little accessories that give add color or another interesting angle to her outfits. A fellow sentimentalist, she has treasured pieces from my great grandmother’s collection and further back into history. My eyes would sparkle when I sat next to her and she would show me all the bobbles. To this day, I think I could still spend hours in that tiny room between her yellow tiled bathroom and bedroom with a double bed, just looking through the dainty and delightful pieces she’s saved over the years, and I know I’m not the only one.
In women of a certain generation’s closets, you can feel a sense of polish that’s hard to acquire in today’s world of fast fashion and over-consumerism. We rarely think twice about purchasing something until we find it months later, tags still on. I think it’s safe to say my grandmother has never experienced this phenomenon. She learned from an early age to use everything she had, from stretching leftovers to wearing silk scarves in a way that will never go out of style. While her collection of Talbots and Lands End clothes will remain timeless, it’s the little things that I’ve seen popping up more and more into popular culture. I mean, Rihanna wore a brooch during her half-time performance; Kate Middleton was styled in a pair of gorgeous opera gloves for the BAFTAs. Gems from the golden age of accessories are coming back in full swing, and most Southerners are already ahead of the trend whether you know it or not.
We talked to several experts from across the South who know what’s popular and what you should grab, or politely ask for, from your mother, grandmother or favorite aunt or friend. Hey, you might even have some of these pieces in the back of your own closet, you just have to take a look.
Everyone can have a Grace Kelly moment with this elegant accessory. As a quick scroll through Richmond, Virginia based Halcyon Vintage’s Instagram will show you, this versatile slip of fabric can transform any outfit into something chic. “People of all ages like them,” says Halcyon’s owner Didi Chisholm. She says that silk scarves are one of the biggest sellers in the shop, and with all the ways they can be styled: from wearing a scarf in your hair to using it as a shawl, there are plenty of reasons for this item’s popularity.
Meredith Schmidt, an Austin based content creator, can’t stop thinking about Legally Blond when it comes to a silk scarf moment. “There’s a scene where she has a silk scarf tied around her briefcase, and that’s just such a cute way.”
“The bigger the better,” says Beth Cook, the owner of Reinvented Resale in Charleston, South Carolina. Even though big is in, Cook says her clients aren’t compromising their taste to get the desired look. A vintage Oscar De La Renta necklace that sold at her shop a few weeks ago shows that even though large necklaces are popular, people aren’t grabbing just anything. A simple t-shirt and cardigan combo or a solid-colored dress go from getting groceries to grabbing brunch with the gals with a statement necklace in your collection.
For Schmidt, a lover of Pinterest and nostalgia, charms and dainty jewelry pieces passed on through generations are prized possessions. She often wears a heart charm around her neck that was her grandmother’s as well as a beloved watch from her mother. Every time she puts these pieces on, she thinks of the women who wore them before her.
Schmidt also loves that charms of a charm bracelet or necklace can be purchased to make certain milestones in one’s life, from graduations to marriages to christenings … the list goes on.
It’s perfect for “when you just want one thing to make your outfit stand out,” Schmidt says.
While some of you may argue that belts have always been in vogue, a good vintage belt that has spent a few decades in the depths of a closet might just deserve a little dusting. “Depending on what my outfit is, [a belt] can really add a lot,” says Chisholm. “Even though some belts definitely look dated and they look like they are from a different time period I feel like it’s something that you can wear year after year.”
Wide Brimmed Hats
Many Southern women have at least one hat in their closets. From Easter to the Kentucky Derby, hats are at the heart of our regional fashion, particularly in the spring and summer. Cook says that in Charleston, floppy hats are making an appearance. “It’s a statement by itself,” she shares, but the versatility of wide-brimmed hats also allows them to be a vessel for all sorts of treasures like feathers and brooches.
We’ve already written about this trend, but Southern style watchers are seeing these bedazzled pieces come back in real time. The more they sparkle, the better!
Straw, beaded, embroidered and needlepoint bags are all the rage. Unconventional materials like these might not always be the most stylish, but this just goes to show you that trends do come back if you just give them a little time. Cook shares that in Charleston, bags from the Whiting & Davis Collection and other bags in a similar beaded style are getting particular attention from shoppers. Even though some more unique trends are flying off shelves, Cook says that vintage leather bags are also having a moment. She explains that finding a good leather bag is like a diamond in the rough. “You just have to shine it up a little bit,” she says.
Watching a family member pull off an earring before picking up the landline is a memory that many Southerners saw time and time again in years past, but clip-ons will forever and always be a Southern staple.
Maybe you haven’t caught onto this trend from our previous recommendations, but this accessory tells you loud and clear that the larger pieces of costume jewelry are back and better than ever. “Coming out of the pandemic, people are looking for a little bit of glam,” Chisholm says. “People are looking forward to doing things and being able to accessorize.” She shares that people want necklaces, earrings, brooches, you name it, all with a little sparkle.
Now, if your Southern family is anything like mine, you already knew that these little gems would have to make an appearance on this list. When in doubt, put on a string of pearls or a pair of pearl earrings to give any outfit a little bit of an extra polish. If you don’t just have a string of pearls hiding in a jewelry box but want the same look, many resellers and thrift stores have a few strands that don’t pull at the purse strings.
In Nora Ephron’s romantic comedy You’ve Got Mail, there’s a scene where Meg Ryan’s character pulls out a handkerchief from her pocket embroidered with a daisy to give to a little girl. In the scene she asks, “Do children not know what handkerchiefs are?” Well, according to Chisholm, you might want to have a handkerchief on hand. The long-time vintage collector finds a level of sentimentality with this item that is hard to be replicated. “People gave them as gifts to people with a monogram,” Chisholm recalls. It was a way to add personality without having to go overboard.
Don’t we all love a dramatic moment? And few things in life are more dramatic than a pair of gloves, but even if you find some in the back of a closet or in a resale shop, you might want to make sure that they fit first. “We do get a lot of requests for those white gloves from the up-to-your-elbow or even the short ones, but the ones that I get truly from Grandma’s closet are so tiny. The hands are so tiny,” Reinvented Resale owner, Cook, shares. However, just because they are a little bit harder to find doesn’t mean that gloves are any less in style. We know Rita Hayworth would approve.
From Your Family’s Sewing Box: Ribbons
Maybe you are excited about the comeback of ballet flats, but we can’t help but think about another dance-inspired trend that’s coming back with gusto: ribbon. Throw a silk or velvet ribbon in your hair, wrap one around your waist as a belt or tie the ribbons around your feet to make your ballet flats look as if you just popped out of the studio. We imagine that you can find some beautiful ribbon hiding in a family sewing box or stored with your Christmas wrapping materials.
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Read the original article on Southern Living.