Fashion Update

Does Anyone Wear Clip-On Earrings Anymore?

This is one style trend we’ll never let die!



If you’re tempted to believe that clip-on earrings have gone the way of rotary phones and gossip benches, think again: They’re as popular as ever.

“Whether someone has sensitive ears or never got their ears pierced, we get requests for a lot of clip-ons,” says Nicola Bathie, a San Antonio, Texas, jewelry designer known for her statement-making baubles. “When a bride places an order for all her attendants, there is almost always one person in the party who needs clips.”

Practicality may be one reason for clip-ons’ enduring popularity, but they’re rooted in history too.

While the first known evidence of pierced ears dates back to somewhere around 3300 BC (Otzï, a mummy discovered in the Italian Alps in 1991, was found to have large holes in his ears, suggesting that he wore heavy baubles for much of his life) , they’ve swung in and out of vogue in the years since. At the turn of the 20th century, when Victorian morals ruled the roost, and for a few decades after, pierced earrings were thought to be unrefined and even a bit crass, so the practice fell out of fashion for polite society. If someone were to wear earrings, they would opt for a screw-back option that allowed them to accessorize without having to—gasp!—pierce holes in their ears. The 1930s brought easier-to-wear hinged clip-ons, and by the 1950s, clip-on earrings came in a variety of backing styles and were popular among housewives and the high-fashion set alike.

“Think Jackie O. and Babe Paley in the ’60s — they always just had these pops of candy anchored on their ears,” says MK Quinlan, who curates an elevated collection of vintage clothing and jewelry at her eponymous shop in Birmingham, Alabama.

It’s a style that has major staying power, she notes. “It was a chic, almost playful look that my clients are really seeking out these days. The ’60s in general are a huge trend in vintage right now.” Another of-the-moment favorite? The ornamental gold clip-ons from the ’90s, made popular by the likes of Princess Diana. “It’s a very Versace look that’s coming back hot,” says Quinlan. “We have trouble keeping this style in stock at the store.”

But whether you wear them for practical reasons or simply favor the vintage look, one thing remains true: clip-on earrings make a statement. “They’re often much bigger in scale than earrings for pierced ears,” says Quinlan of the ‘button’-style ones in particular. “They bring a much bigger splash to an outfit.”

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