Monday, April 5, 2010

Signature Items



Ring (Tiffany & Co.)
Necklace (Tiffany & Co.)


I'm lucky enough to have grown up with a wonderful and generous style mentor -- my mother.  For big birthdays and events, she took me to Tiffany's, and I got to pick out an item.  It was never so much about the brand,* though that certainly adds some glitz to it, but more so about having nice pieces of quality jewelry.

On my 18th birthday, I chose this silver necklace.  I very rarely take it off, only removing it to put on the occasional statement necklace.  One of the reasons I chose this necklace is its simplicity; it goes with virtually anything, and as such, I wear it with pretty much everything.  While I don't consider it one of my fashion talismans, as it does not necessarily instill confidence in me or make me feel a certain way, I do feel strange if I forget to put it back on after wearing a different necklace.

I received the ring as a 21st birthday/college graduation present.  I love how the frame around the diamond both makes the stone look slightly bigger and gives the classic look a little twist.  It's a small ring that I think is perfect for everyday use.  (Please excuse my unpolished, uneven nails in the picture.)

There are three things that I almost never leave the house without: this necklace, this ring, and a spritz of perfume.**  These pieces of jewelry are absolutely my signature items; they can mark any outfit as specifically "Katie."

While I think having signature items is important, I will admit that having them does cause me to become a little lazy in looking for jewelry.  Wearing these items becomes an unconscious decision, and I can overlook other options because of it.

*I was never into those ubiquitous early-2000s (if I'm remembering my dates correctly) bracelets that said "If found, return to Tiffany & Co." or anything that loudly announced the Tiffany & Co. brand.  Also, look out for more posts coming up on designer branding.
**For me, having a signature scent is key. 

  • What are your signature items?  Do you have signature jewelry like me or do you have an article of clothing that you love, like a cardigan you pair with everything?
  • Are you more into simple signature pieces of jewelry or do you prefer statement pieces?  Or do you have a signature statement piece, like a cocktail ring?


Scholar Style Guide said...

I definitely think you're right about signature items! I definitely associate these pieces of jewelry with your "style."

I mix up my earrings and sometimes necklaces, but the only rings I wear are my wedding rings. When I taught high school, there was a teacher who looked and dressed a lot like me. For several months, we were called one another's names regularly. Then, it was like everybody figured it out immediately. When I mentioned this to one of the ladies in the office, she said "she wears yellow gold jewelry and you always wear white metals, so that's how we keep you apart." Haha!

I think those chunky bangles with the Tiffany charms raise an interesting issue: some women seem to wear jewelry because it is valuable to them (for any number of reasons) and some women seem to wear jewelry because they think it projects value to other people. Those Tiffany necklaces/bracelets always struck me as odd because they were sterling silver but cost as much as a non-Tiffany gold necklace would.


Scholar Style Guide said...

Do I have a signature piece of jewelry, eh? Well, those silver Fossil hoop earrings I've worn for 981238 days straight now? I think they fit the bill, ha.

I certainly associate your necklace and ring with your distinct style, and I like that. To me it's endearing when a person maintains continuity in a personal wardrobe with signature accessory item or scent. Rachel Zoe, for example, has successfully marketed herself according to her sunglasses. And the ever-popular Chanel No. 5 perfume practically defined the style of the 1920s and 30s; many a woman associates her mother or grandmother with that scent. People respond to consistency and familiarity, for sure.

The marketing campaign of Chanel No. 5 bring me to Liz's point about conflating jewelry brand and value: I wonder too if, when it comes to signature accessories or scents, we relate most to intrinsic value or to mass appeal. If a person's signature item or scent is worn by hundreds of others, as in the case of Chanel No. 5, is it still "signature"?

The definition of "signature" seems troubled by the example of the engagement ring: the ring represents both personal decision and unique relationship to another person, yet rings themselves are vastly similar in style and brand. Perhaps, as in this case, there are times when we define sartorial signature apart from distinctiveness?

- Anne-Marie