Fashion Flashback: Earrings by Morgan Watkins
The earring: an accessory worn widely around the world by women, men and even toddlers. They can totally complete your outfit or be used to balance out any fashion or beauty look while still remaining subtle and timeless. As one of the oldest forms of body modification, getting your ears pierced has remained common practice for countless generations. Read on to learn more about the ever-changing trends of earrings.
The process of piercing ears goes way back to biblical times, but the oldest known earrings trace back a few thousand years ago. Worn by ancient Egyptians, Chinese, Mongolian, and Native American peoples, earrings often represented a myriad of different ideals. They could be used to show marital and societal status, tribal and cultural affiliations, and to heal and protect those wearing the accessories. Various materials were believed to provide certain powers, like pearls being utilized to calm stress and help with heart disease, topaz used to aid those suffering with mental illness, and red coral to take the edge off of pain and heartbreak.
Although these purposes remained vital to those who believed in the power of earrings, they were primarily worn for decorative purposes by the rest of the world. The first to wear the beloved hoop style we all know and love was actually a Sumerian king back in 2500 BC. They were proudly worn to represent the power and wealth possessed by the king, and as this trend spread to places like Crete and Cyprus, earrings were reimagined from their simple gold hoop origins to accessories of embellishment and beauty. Beads were added, pendants were stamped into gold, bronze and silver, and wire was wrapped around hoops to add flare and personality.
Meanwhile in Egypt, ancient civilizations opted for bulky earrings, or plugs; their piercings were larger and stretched the earlobe. These plugs were often round or mushroom shaped. Made from materials like glass and carved jasper, some also featured decorative pendants or engraved images of animals.
(Image from https://www.bodycandy.com/blogs/news/modification-history-pierced-like-an-egyptian)
As Greek and Roman goldsmiths became increasingly skilled at their craft, new and improved designs were introduced. Dish shaped earrings accented by dangling flower drops were all the rage. While earrings transformed from objects only owned by the rich and powerful to jewelry accessible to common folk, it wasn’t until the late 16th century that the accessory caught European interest. Once high ruff collars and elaborate, voluminous hairstyles fell out of fashion, earrings were in all over the continent. Dazzling gems and faceted diamonds were must haves in all earring styles, especially girandoles, which were chandelier-like earrings which branched out and held three dangling gem drops. Even men commonly sported simple earrings, but often just in a single ear.
By the 19th century, earrings became lighter, more delicate and less extravagant. Pendant earrings and matching sets, known as parures, were hot trending styles. Inspiration gathered from Romanticism influence led to a revival of the girandole, but they were refreshed to be more modern and simplistic. Other styles featured tassels and fringe, mosaics, or dropped all the way down from the earlobe to graze the shoulders.
Throughout centuries passed, the earring fell in and out of favor with people around the world, and the 1900s were no exception. Early on in the 20th century, piercings were seen as barbaric and unbecoming in America, as they were often associated with indigenous people who were, at the time, being pressured into cultural assimilation. Luckily, by the Roaring 20s, these hateful stigmas fell to the wayside as earrings came back bigger, bolder and better than ever. Glitz and color, diamonds and onyx — the possibilities were as fun as they were endless.
This extravagance wouldn’t last as the 70s called for more a natural, understated look, but just a decade later, the excess-loving 80s would bring big baubles back into style. By the end of the 90s and the beginning of the 21st century, sparkling studs and large hoops were the pairs to wear, juxtaposed by more grunge trends like safety pin earrings and wide gauges. Ear cuffs were also on the rise, giving any outfit an edgy yet bohemian vibe.
Recently, designers have been playing around with earrings in new and inventive ways. Whether it be mix and matching different sets at Chanel and Alexander McQueen or experimenting with asymmetrical styling at Dries Van Noten, it’s clear that the way you wear your earrings this season and beyond could take your look from zero to 100% high fashion. Need more earring inspiration? Check out talkingfashion.net and our wide array of earrings and other accessories!
(Image from https://www.elle.com/uk/fashion/trends/news/g32581/best-earrings-fashion-week-autum n-winter-2018/?slide=9)
“THE HISTORY OF THE CULTURAL SIGNIFICANCE OF EARRINGS.” Magal Gioielli . Magal Gioielli, 21 Jan. 2015. Web.
Ward, Susan. “Earrings.” lovetoknow. LoveToKnow Corp, Web.