Cool Ways to Wear Pearls Without Looking Like Charlotte York

You may not be on board with pearls, which is totally fine. I really respect your willingness to disagree with me and as a matter of fact, I admire it. But in the event you are intrigued, I ask you to consider the following: we have known that pearls would abandon the profile implications of their past life as the official armor of housewives on Nantucket, both aspiring and not, the moment Phoebe Philo sent them down her runway as earrings last September for Spring 2017. From there they would maintain an air of edge, iconoclasm, even an air of cool.

Of course, a strand of pearls wrapped around your neck is different from the small, dangling mother of pearl earrings Philo showed, but this is the joy of fashion, people! Interpretation. That is, abandoning what is so literal (putting pearls in your ears) and charting a course (that includes them around your neck, for example) that suits you better. Or me better. So here are five ways I plan to wear pearls as modeled by Juliet Johnstone, an artist you might recognize from the Outdoor Voices billboards that currently freckle downtown New York.

1. The Obviously Unexpected Way

Leather and pearls! The most cliché of contradictions this side of HBO. But what if you decide to forgo a shirt all together, keep the jacket unzipped, make sure your strands are layered neatly and then put a fresh flower in your hair? Or maybe I can do you one better: what if you wear shoes on your hands? Bet no one saw that coming.

2. The I’m-Not-on-Vacation-but-Man-I-Wish-I-Were Way

One basic principle that I strongly believe will soften the blow of winter includes wearing a straw hat through the season because, you know, if I can’t de facto be on the beach, I sure as shit can pretend. Add a sweater, don’t bring an under shirt, and layer something gold with another strand of pearls because we are a versatile, non-discriminatory people and as far as I am concerned, all precious metals (heads? Stones?) were created equal.

3. The Loulou de la Falaise Way

I spent so much of summer talking about how to look like a lady of leisure without actually needing to be one (we are working women with places to go and people to see, dammit). I’d like to suggest bringing that dressing tenet into fall with turbans and extravagant costume pearls and this exquisite jacket with satin lapels. Just do me a favor: I know it is tempting but don’t light up a cigarette. That shit will kill you.

4. The “Oh This Old Thing? I’ve Had it For Years!” Way

The most digestible way to wear a strand of pearls is probably with a crew neck t-shirt. You can try any number of tees: that of the vintage variety, something striped, something really new, but I would suggest you keep it crew neck, have the pearls hug your neck for dear life like they are never going to come off and add an earring or two for good measure because you’re just wearing a t-shirt anyway — have a little fun with your lobes. You’ve got nothing to lose (other than, probably, elasticity). Per the sunglasses: definitively optional, but so much fun.

And finally!

5. The Way with the Striped Shirt

Please excused her uncuffed sleeves! It is unbecoming of someone who mastered the Jenna Lyons sleeve roll (see: this video) but I digress. Consider this lewk your, uh, passport to nowhere with its triple strand of pearls, two rhinestone earrings clipped into a single lobe and that one dangly guy, a conversation starter at worst and the reason I’m still alive at best.

What was that? Nothing, never mind. The point is this: are you in or are you out?

Photos by Edith Young.

Leandra M. Cohen

Leandra M. Cohen is the founder of Man Repeller.

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