Recently on the beadwork forum I'm a member of, there's been a bit of talk about how beadwork isn't "in," as well as a discussion about what people are wearing. Now, in my own little world (population: me), beadwork is always "in" and it's appropriate for every occasion. You know, to the point where I say "Oh, I need to go to the grocery store, what necklace shall I wear?" But I also recognize that not everyone feels the same way.
In my experience, there are two basic reasons why people do not purchase and wear beadwork. One is a matter of value, perceived or otherwise. Traditionally, jewelry made of gold and precious gems is well-regarded due to its value. Gold is always worth money, in a pinch you can pawn it, sell it, melt it down, whatever. The cost of fine jewelry comes from the intrinsic value of the materials, as well as the jeweler's time.
Beadwork, on the other hand, does not have as much intrinsic value. To be certain, there are necklaces just dripping with precious stone beads, but they are invariably of a much lower quality gem than you might find set in a ring. More often, the beads are made of glass. The cost of beadwork is not so much in the materials (although some of them can be quite dear), as in the jeweler's time.
The important thing is to realize that jewelry does not have to be an investment. I think of my beadwork and the artist's beads that I collect as art. While some people display their art on the wall or a pedestal, I choose to display mine on my body. You can as well! The added benefit is that when your art is stationary, only people who come into your home can enjoy it with you. When you wear it out into the world, you share it with everyone.
The other basic reason why people do not wear much beadwork is that they seem to feel overwhelmed by it. I often hear people say "Oh, I could never wear that" or "I have no place to wear it" or of course "I have nothing to wear it with!" Excuses all. If you really love something, you'll find an occasion to wear it and an outfit to wear it with.
Remember that not all beadwork is completely over the top and dominating. You can start out with something simple and subtle, with little more substance than a gold chain. I particularly like herringbone twist necklaces like Magic Twist or Shadow Twist for a comfortable "barely there" feeling. Eventually, you may even feel like moving on to something bigger or bolder.
In regards to having no place to wear it, well, that argument always falls flat with me. I'm sitting here in my living room wearing beadwork, after all, and I was wearing even more earlier when I went out thrift-shopping with my family. Although there were once etiquette rules which stated that one saved fine jewelry for the evening, nowadays such things have fallen by the wayside. There's no reason why you can't wear a nice necklace to go out to Wal-Mart in the middle of the day, if that's what you feel like doing. You can even wear it to work!
When it comes to having nothing to wear it with, I'm of the mindset to buy an outfit to go with the jewelry. That's just me, however. Just remember that black goes with everything, so if you buy black jewelry or black clothes, you can wear any color with them. If you buy black jewelry and black clothes, then you'll be a lot like me.
To me, there are three standard approaches one can take to the relationship between clothes and jewelry. The jewelry can accent the clothing, the clothing can be a backdrop for the jewelry, or the jewelry and clothing can be equal partners in helping you feel beautiful. Allow me to give an example of each one.
When the jewelry accents the clothing, it's usually a subtle touch. A single Crystal Bracelet or a simple pair of earrings makes a nice addition to your daily wardrobe, without being in any way overwhelming or too flashy. This is especially nice for casual or very professional settings. It's also nice when your outfit is simply so gorgeous already that you don't want your jewelry to draw attention away from it.
Clothing serves as a backdrop for jewelry when you wear very basic, almost simple clothes with a stunning piece. This works especially well with elaborate necklaces like Queen of Love and Beauty or Lady Ghost. I personally own a lot of black tops and skirts, as I feel that they're perfect for looking elegant without distracting people from the fact that I'm wearing something really nice around my neck. Other neutral or subtle colors also suit themselves well. If you want your clothing to serve as a backdrop, avoid prints or trims. For tops, I enjoy camisoles, v-necks, or turtlenecks, depending on the style of the necklace.
The best of both worlds come together when your outfit and your jewelry perfectly compliment each other in a matching ensemble. Although the best way to achieve this is to have jewelry custom-made to suit your specific outfit, or to go out and buy clothes to match your new jewelry, sometimes you can pull it together with a little less work. I like to pick out color combinations or motifs and use them to match jewelry to clothes. This leads to a very polished look that will have everyone commenting on how stylish you are!
If you have any questions or comments along this vein, I would really love to hear them. Either post in the comments section here on the blog, or drop me an e-mail!