5 Tips to Be on Point with Pins

With historical dramas more popular than ever in movies, television and online, pins and brooches have made a fashion comeback. 

If you follow these types of shows, you’ve probably noticed stunning pins and brooches, particularly those set in the early and mid 1900s. From The Crown (a British drama about the reign of Queen Elizabeth) to The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (which focuses on a Jewish housewife in NYC in the 1950s and her unusual gift for comedy), brooches and pins are prominently displayed and given beautiful historical context by the show’s producers.

Whether wearing a pin for sentimental value or using this key accessory to punch up your style quotient, here are five fresh ideas for being on point with pins this season:

#1 As they say in real estate, it’s all about location, location, location.
Your dress, top or jacket has limited area to showcase a pin, but don’t let that stop you from being inventive. A sparkly brooch draws attention to cleavage when placed at the point of a deep v-neck or emphasizes an hourglass figure when pinned at the center of a nipped in waist. Try a standout pin on the neckline or shoulder of a simple dress, à la the character of 1960s advertising secretary Joan Holloway on the series Mad Men, to make a particularly bold statement with your pin.

#2 Consider your point of view.
If you’re unable to make your point with just one small pin, try arranging multiple pins on the shoulder or lapel of a suit. Three small pins can make a bigger impact than just one.  Former Secretary of State Madeline Albright, famously known for wearing pins to communicate her point of view and celebrate many events in her life, once squeezed an entire set of jazz band instruments on her shoulder before attending a public concert. The look worked because she was able to keep all the pins the same scale, color and theme which connected them well. To learn more about Madeline’s unique use of pins, I highly recommend Read My Pins, her 2009 memoir that showcases her breathtaking pin collection and the subtle (and not so subtle!) political messages behind them.

#3 Search outside the mall.
While an heirloom pin can be purchased at an expensive jewelry store and passed on for generations, reasonably-priced costume jewelry can make just as much of a statement as high-end versions. Vintage pins are often available in every type of metal and embellished with gemstones or formed in unique shapes such as Scotty dogs, beetles or handbags. Scouring secondhand or vintage shops is a fun and inexpensive way to start a collection of brooches and express your identity and interests.

#4 Fabric matters. 
On a practical note, consider the fabric of your garment that will serve as the backing for your jewelry.  A tweed or brocade can withstand the weight of a heavier pin, while thinner weight fabrics, like polyester or silk, will show holes more easily.  A large pin with colorful rhinestones or a metallic finish can brighten a wool winter coat on the dreariest days. Smaller pins add color and interest to the lapel of a serious suit, while a medium size beauty is perfect on a solid shift or A-line dress or even pinned to a handbag or tote.

#5 Quick change artist.
If wearing pins on your clothing is not of interest to you, consider wearing pins as pendants instead. Vintage pins often have a small opening on the back that allows it to be worn on a metal chain. Your local jeweler can easily add such a loop to modern pieces, or you can purchase an inexpensive brooch converter, creating a more versatile piece for your jewelry collection.

Last word
To ensure its legacy, be sure to examine the clasp on your pin before wearing, no matter its age or price tag. I have had many clients report that they have lost a special pin or had it fly off at the least opportune time and often break because they did not take the time to properly secure it. If you need to replace the clasp to wear it well, do so. Dressing Well often requires some preparation. Jewelry repair and maintenance should be part of your plan!

Editor’s Note: We’d love to hear the stories of your pins and how you wear them well. Please share in the comment section below. We welcome your pin inspirations!

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