Pearls of wisdom? Wear pearls!

I first noticed it at the Hollywood premiere of The Ugly Truth in July. Katherine Heigel, resplendent in an ethereal gray Lanvin dress was sporting a spectacular thick choker of pearls and chains in multiple sizes and colors. (This turned out to actually be two necklaces cleverly paired together.)Next I listened as the new issue of InStyle Magazine trumpeted the return of “ladylike style” for fall complete with the requisite pencil skirt, twin set and of course, pearls.

Finally, just today I saw an ad for Chicos — the model was heaped in ropes and ropes (and ropes!) of pearls twined with chains and beads. Slightly edgier, many of these strands of pearls were strategically placed at “stations” along a length of chain.Is it inspiration from our elegant First Lady and her famous triple-strand or maybe Mad Men has instilled a secret desire for a return to 50’s housewife glamour (minus the girdles)? Whatever the reason, pearls are a resounding “yes” for fall, which is good news because most of us have a strand or two (or more) languishing in the jewelry box!

Whether real or faux, there are many ways to wear pearls that look fresh right now. These are some of my favorites:

A la Coco Chanel with masses of chains. Simply find the strands of pearls and larger chains that you may not have worn in a while. Multiple sizes, shapes and lengths all work together! Since this is a real attention grabber, keep all other jewelry to a minimum or eliminate altogether.

Anchored on the side with a vintage brooch. One or two strands work well with oversized costume  jewelry from the 50’s and 60’s. Even some of the colored rhinestone pieces from the 80’s look great. Be careful you don’t overload the pin back!

Surrounded by preppy grosgrain ribbon. This is an easy fix with a quick trip to your local craft supply store. Balance the width of the grosgrain with the mm size of the pearls. Twist along the length, and finish off with a bow (worn on the side, or hidden in the back). Ribbon can also wind through several strands of pearls and chains – in this case it’s best if all the strands are the same length.

Doubled (or tripled) and worn short as a choker. Instant elegance for a strapless dress for evening or a simple white blouse and jacket for work.

Need more inspiration? The upcoming film, Coco Before Chanel (coming to theaters in New York and Los Angeles, September 25, 2009) chronicles Chanel’s incredible rise in the fashion world. The costuming itself is enough reason to go!

Susan McNeill is a wife, mother, author, entrepreneur and social activist. In addition to Susan Said What?! Susan also writes for Style on a WHIM, It’s how you play the game!, and Success Won’t Wait!

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