There is surely no surprise that we’re all browsing fashion websites these days — the surprise is what we’re looking for.
If I want to buy clothes, I go straight to the place I know I’ll find them: a button-through summer dress (zara.com), a good pair of khaki trousers (irisfashion.co.uk), but when I’m lockdown browsing, I’m more interested in the dreamy catalogue images: the pretty tiled floors, the flowers on the table, the cracked leather armchair, the scarf around the model’s hair and always, more than anything, the earrings.
They’re not always credited, sadly, because when the stylists put these images together, the earrings were just a detail to set off the little black dress or the little white swimsuit —they weren’t to know the earrings would become the main event. We won’t be needing a black dress any time soon, let alone a swimsuit, but earrings are newly appealing.
Hoopla! Kaia Gerber on the Proenza Schouler catwalk at New York Fashion Week in September
When a change of top, a slick of lipstick, plus ear jewellery is our new three-step (Zoom) party preparation, earrings have roughly 65 per cent more going for them than they did before coronavirus.
The other irresistible thing about earrings in May 2020 is you don’t have to try them on. Lockdown bullseye.
There are no rules when it comes to great earrings: one woman’s glamorous candelabra is another’s gaudy Christmas bauble. You need to go with what suits you, including your height and the length of your neck. If you’re short, you don’t want a giant earring swinging around at chin level.
EARRINGS: the NEW RULES
Add a drop or a charm to a small hoop.
Gold and misshapen pearls work well together.
Mismatched or single earrings are newly smart.
Pick earrings bold enough to show on camera.
Striking the right balance between eye catching and distracting is all important; what looked fabulous on the Stella McCartney catwalk (earrings so big they grazed the shoulders) may well look comical in real life, and beware ‘statement’ earrings. Generally anything prefixed with the word statement is something you’ll wear once and tire of.
If you want earrings with impact, that flatter your face, then pretty materials — the glow of gold or the brightness of turquoise — deliver the best bang for your buck.
As for what’s in fashion right now, it ranges from tassel fans to anything featuring a charm or droplet. Hoops are still going strong, and now they’re often embellished — see Whistles’ pearl hoops (£21.75, whistles.com); Simone Rocha’s beaded hoops (£195, matches fashion.com) or Anna + Nina’s rainbow enamelled hoops (£100, anthropologie.com).
Another trend that’s not going anywhere is mismatched earrings, which look chic providing the earrings have some common ground. If in doubt, asymmetric charms on small hoops is the safe way to go and you can find plenty of quirky combinations at jewellery brand Timeless Pearly (£250, matchesfashion.com).
Alternatively, Anna + Nina (sold at trouva.com) do charming individual earrings to pair up with a plain stud or hoop; these work particularly well if you have more than one piercing per ear and can wear several at once. Take your pick from the single turquoise stud, to daisies, pearls in a peapod and evil eyes.
The beauty of these charms is if you decide they don’t work as earrings for you, they’ll work as a gift — on a chain or sleeper earring — come Christmas.
Pictured: Georgia May Jagger at the British Fashion Awards in 2017
This isn’t a time for fine jewellery; it’s a moment for mixing it up and having fun.
One of the best brands for gold and pearl earrings is Alighieri. The designs have the raw beauty and simplicity of late medieval heirlooms, at a fraction of the cost.
The infernal storm earrings (£350, alighieri.co.uk) with their chunky baroque drop pearls are my favourites.
Another reliable, more affordable brand is Arlette Gold, where you can get coin hoop earrings (£43, arlettegold.com) or turquoise studded huggies — the fat hoops you wear tight to your ear (£32).
But if you want to go for the best, that would be the queen of semi-precious jewellery, Pippa Small; her gold vermeil turquoise studs from her less pricey Turquoise Mountain range are top of my wish list (£80, pippasmall.com).
J.Crew does excellent quality earrings. Two stand-out pairs at the moment are its dangly white beaded ones (£44, jcrew.com) — white is a surprisingly effective colour for earrings at this time of year — or the raffia fan earrings (£73).
Otherwise, Accessorize is always worth a look, and its pearl hoop set is a steal at just £4 (uk.accessorize.com).