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Isn’t it great when a fashion trend doesn’t require you to spend any of your hard-earned money? That’s exactly why I’m a fan of the growing popularity of wearing a cluster of brooches on coats, jackets and blazers. And to be honest, I’m not sure if I’d necessarily call it a trend, since I’ve been clustering brooches for a few years now. I’m just glad to see that it’s becoming a standard for those seeking to make a bold style statement.

For a long time, many have considered brooches a dressy accessory that is commonly associated with women of a certain, more mature age. Just a few years ago, if you were under the age of 40 and caught wearing a brooch (in the most stylish way possible, of course), the fashion world deemed your style as “granny chic.” Now, it’s just plain chic, regardless of your date of birth.

The treasure hunt

Brooches are one of the few fashion accessories that look better with age. A slight tarnish shows that it’s been loved. A missing stone or pearl exudes character. This is exactly why rummaging through Mom’s or Grandmom’s jewelry boxes (or in my case, Mom’s multiple dresser drawers) is the best way to source vintage pins. And don’t just stop at the brooches. Vintage post earrings can also be worn as pins, and as a pair they will help you grow your collection at a faster pace.

Once you’ve started to build your own mini arsenal, you can venture out to local vintage shops or street markets to find even more interesting pieces. I tend to hone in on pins with intriguing background stories or those that come from iconic, but now-defunct stores like Marshall Field’s. If you prefer shopping in the comfort of your own home, sites like eBay and Etsy will keep you occupied for an hour or five. Prices can range from under a dollar to tens of thousands of dollars, depending on the metal, stones and the era in which it was created.

Mix, don’t necessarily match

Similar to the lapel pin trend, there are little to no rules when it comes to wearing brooches in a cluster. It really depends on your personal preference. In most cases, I stick to wearing the same metals (e.g., all brass or gold, all silver tone) at any given time. But don’t let my aversion to metal mixing hinder your creative thought process. I’ve seen many people pull off mixing metals effortlessly. Also, don’t be afraid to combine high and low. That vintage Chanel pin will work just fine surrounded by a cluster of inexpensive brooches.

Another tip for creating the perfect assemblage is to avoid extremely big statement pins, since the smaller ones allow for more flexibility with the arrangement.

If scouring for vintage finds simply isn’t your thing, your local department store or favorite online shop has a selection of new pins to choose from. The key with buying new is to look for jewelry that gives off a retro vibe or has an antique-like finish, with clear crystals or pearls set in dark or slightly tarnished metal. ASOS has a few options, some of which are sold in packs of two or three, and all of which are priced under $20.

Regardless of where you source them or how you cluster them, brooches are a great way to express your individual style. Thank you, Granny, for the inspiration.

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