Rihanna and (left) Harry Styles have made pearls a part of their signature look. Pics/Getty Images
Not so long ago, pearl necklaces were considered a relic, favoured only by grannies and aunties. Not anymore. Thanks to gender-bending and rule-breaking fashionistas, pearls have received a 2021 update, where they’re being sported with everything from cardigans to shimmery evening gowns.
Fashion designer Sanjana Bubber attributes this shift to changing perceptions about what is considered fashionable and age-appropriate. “The beauty of pearls is that they’re surprisingly versatile, given their naturally neutral hues. With the growing popularity of monotone outfits and fashion provocateurs subverting gender and age-defined trends, we find pearls being paired with peak lapel coats to sweater vests. There are no rules about what works and what doesn’t,” she says. She also points to the recent Met Gala, which saw Barbie Ferreira turning heads in a pearl-encrusted gown.
The key to wearing pearls is to move away from their association with vintage sophistication and pair them with edgier outfits. “Wearing pearls with a lace frock, for instance, doesn’t work anymore. Instead, take risks and wear them with outfits where people least expect to see them. The same goes for single-strand necklaces,” Bubber adds.
Like Rihanna does, you can switch it up by experimenting with a stack of pearl necklaces of varying lengths. Don’t shy away from going a little over the top; this trend isn’t for conformists. However, you can keep your look subtle by wearing pearls with an off-white or cream-coloured monotone outfit, she concludes.