THE ICONS

THE STATEMENT EARRING

THE OUTNET’s Content Editor, Jess Wood, loves nothing more than… is that sparkle? Wait, it’s in earring form? Bring it here! Ahem, as we were saying, she’s a devoted believer in the power of bold jewelry, especially when it comes to jaw-dropping ear candy form…

Wedding pictures
Blue cashmere sweater

As a fashion editor, I used to have a recurring nightmare every season, just before leaving for the shows in Milan: that I’d leave my earrings at home. And, one season, the nightmare became reality. Fresh off the early-morning flight from London, I dashed into my hotel room for a lightning-speed outfit change before heading to the first show. Rummaging through my cases, cold panic set in. Where were all my velvet pouches of ear candy? I had to meet my editor-in-chief downstairs in 5 minutes! I may have been wearing a fairly punchy Marni dress, but it was nothing without that pair of Shourouk colored-crystal drops! Oh, the humanity!

Reader, I admit, I nearly hid in my hotel room for the week. Thankfully, I managed to hustle up an emergency loan from a kindly fashion teammate. Statement earrings are no less than my armor, particularly when marching into any challenging situation. Perhaps it’s their position, sitting so close to the face, that gives them their power. Staring down peers from rival titles, seated five rows ahead of me (the shame!) at the season’s hottest show, I’d swish my tasseled Oscar de la Renta shoulder-sweepers and feign indifference. Trying to coax juicy quotes out of a designer who (very clearly) would rather be elsewhere? Wearing my biggest, brightest earrings has helped spark chat and hypnotize reluctant interviewees on many occasions.

When my future husband first took me out for dinner, he was so transfixed by the raffia Ranjana Khan earrings winking at him from across the table, he barely noticed what I was saying. Cascading layers of tasseled leather, dangling with pom-poms, it’s the ideal way to semaphore glamour and wit. Especially when you’re too nervous to say much except, ‘I’ll have a large Pinot, please.’ And of course, the statement earring has taken on a new importance over the past year. When both work and social life have to exist on-screen; eye-catching earrings have become a focal point as never before.

Blue cashmere sweater

Friends and family like to scoff at my heavy emotional (and financial) investment into my enormous treasure trove of ear-gear. But a delve into the history of the sparkling studs explains a lot. Through millennia, earrings have been totemic and talismanic in equal measure. The fact that Europe’s oldest known preserved human wore them hints at their deeper significance. When the frozen remains of Ötzi, thought to have died sometime around 3300 BC, were discovered in the Alps, his earlobes had large pierced holes. The Ancient tribes wore earrings to ward off demons — thought to enter the mind through the ear. Persian soldiers wore them into battle, believing they provided protection. A little bit like those icons of 1980’s glamour, Krystle Carrington and Alexis Colby in the TV drama Dynasty, in fact. The bigger Joan Collins’ diamante earrings, the more explosive we knew the catfight was going to be. Sailors even wore them to combat seasickness and thought they could prevent drowning, while pirates wore them to signal that they’d survived a shipwreck. And then of course, we all know about the Dutch artist Vermeer’s 17th-century Girl With a Pearl Earring, the inspiration for Tracy Chevalier’s best-selling novel, and later a sumptuous film starring Scarlett Johansson. But, it was also a pearl earring that Cleopatra was said to have used to impress Mark Antony — legend has it that she dissolved the priceless piece in vinegar.

As Elizabeth Taylor — the woman who would have sold her Oscars before her earring collection — clearly knew, nothing perks up a casual sweatshirt or tee like a pair of Swarovski gemstone drops. Peruse the Liz-worthy options on offer from brands like Kenneth Jay Lane and Bounkit. If you’d rather add edge to a ‘dressy’ dress, a well curated ear is the perfect fix. Pile lobes with an eclectic mix of gold hoops in organic shapes or dangling styles with mini gold coins from Cornelia Webb, Noir Jewelry or Ben-Amun. But if you’re really looking to dial up your accessories game, Simone Rocha is a stand-out. A pair of her beribboned bow designs are the gift my ears are hoping for this holiday season. They may not protect me from demons or a shipwreck, but they’ll certainly give my Christmas spirit a much-needed lift…