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My Favourite Fashion Discovery

17:22 Posted by Alison
Everybody has one. The cringe-worthy story told by a friend or relative that you just know will crop up in a speech on your wedding day or a milestone birthday. I have two (three, if you count me defiantly announcing to my mum that I didn’t want a baby brother because that meant I couldn’t call him Sarah), and they both feature the same theme.

When I was merely months old, my parents entered me into a baby competition at a local fair. All was going well and my chubby face was beaming, until one of the judges decided to look at all the entrants one last time before picking a winner. As she approached, I spotted her silver chain and suddenly, I was fixated. I obviously don’t remember what happened next, but I am told that with a glint in my eye, I made a desperate beeline for her dangling necklace. Arms outstretched and bracing myself against my mum as she struggled to hold me, I was on a mission to grab the delicate links as they glittered in the June sunlight.

Moments later, the spherical pendant was within my grasp and I simply refused to let go. For an agonising thirty seconds, the poor woman was at my mercy as I stared at my distorted reflection in the shining bauble and marvelled as I moved it around inches from my face. Needless to say, once it was prised away from my grip by one of the many red faces towering above me, I didn’t win the contest.

A year later, a similar scene played out in my own home. I was in my grandma’s arms whilst she stood in front of a large mirror trying in vain to get me to look at a series of faces she was pulling for my amusement. However, my determined gaze was directed elsewhere and seconds later my fingers were wrapped around the glass beads of her necklace in a small, tightly locked fist. This time, approaching the terrible twos and with growing strength, I refused to give up as easily and a tug of war ensued. Suddenly and with a jolt, the necklace snapped and sent prism-like beads cascading to the floor.

Perhaps my magpie instincts were with me at birth. Maybe they were ignited during those early incidents, but the fact remains that for as long as I and those around me can remember, I have been fascinated by jewellery. Since discovering its mesmeric properties before I could walk, I have been an obsessive accessoriser and never feel dressed and ready to face the day without some form of adornment.

From the classic pearls of Chanel to the twisted skulls of McQueen and Pamela Love, jewellery has always been on my fashion radar. I spot and mentally note minute details on the runway and in pop culture, register designs in snatched red carpet snaps and am forever foraging for eye-catching rocks amongst the racks when I head out on the high street.

I love jewellery because it is versatile. Whether it is bold and brash or a tiny sliver of shine carefully draped over joints and limbs, it acts as a final flourish, a scribbled signature or personalised stamp on an outfit of your creation. It can transform a look, drawing the eye to areas and highlighting your assets or melding with your own shifting shapes to form an extension of your very being. It can be a talisman, a trophy or a shield; a structured exoskeleton that states your identity to the world with a quiet confidence.

You can say things with jewellery that are impossible to articulate with other items of clothing and the creative design possibilities are endless. Crafted, found, suspended or adapted, any article, existing or yet to be imagined, can function as a decorative or symbolic item. As precious as silver, gold, platinum and flawless teardrop diamonds may be, there is also little pressure to indulge in a material hierarchy with jewellery. Sometimes a length of cloth, plastic or wood shaped and slung on elastic around your neck can provide what’s needed to complete an outfit and so often holds a higher stylistic value.

Reinvention is a breeze. Irony and nostalgia can be conveyed in an instant by pairing pieces with contrasting ensembles and originality is only one juxtaposed choice of trinket away. This also means that jewellery is essentially timeless, and its one-size-fits-all capability enables you to discover vintage bracelets, brooches and beads or stow away their newer counterparts in very little space before returning to them at will.

The overarching power of jewellery in society can be seen in the way entire eras are often encapsulated in embellishments. Since the beginning of time, gilded mementos have been our most treasured possessions and have defined civilisations. In more recent generations, we have held onto Marilyn’s assertion that diamonds are a girl’s best friend, had the image of Hepburn’s Breakfast at Tiffany’s pearls etched into our consciousness and watched as NYC icons Madonna and Carrie made faux-rosaries and name necklaces must-have wardrobe additions.

As seasons and trends come and go, I delight in selecting items to mash with military, place alongside flirty florals or team with tribal chic. I have created my own jewellery, been gifted a range of inexpensive and investment items and inherited the beautiful and downright bizarre, but feel that nothing can taint the gleaming surface of my passion.

Like millions of others, I have diligently amassed an array of ornamental pieces throughout my twenty-three years and have no plans to stop. I am proud that my treasured jewellery box -okay, boxes- act as a giant charm bracelet, mapping out my life, loves and lessons learned, and I look forward to adding to them as my journey of discovery continues.
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All original content is ©Alison Rowley 2012. No words or images may be reproduced without permission from the copyright holder.