Being a member of a wedding party and attending the numerous required social events invites the inevitable question of what to wear. When Emily Hopkins realized she would be attending several festive occasions in conjunction with her best friend’s wedding, she immediately set about putting her best clothes together. “I had to prepare for three showers, four pre-wedding cocktail parties, the rehearsal dinner, the ceremony itself, the gala reception, and the post-wedding brunch,” says Emily, “and I needed a wide range of styles from dressed-up casual to elegant formal.” Undaunted by the challenge, she relied on her creativity and, following a current major fashion trend, focused on jewelry and accessories.
Emily was taking her cue from high-profile stars such as Nicole Kidman, Charlize Theron, and Catherine Zeta-Jones, whose Oscar-winning red-carpet looks laced with “bling bling” are propelling fashion and setting the style for women everywhere. A term originated from the way the spotlights reflect off large baubles worn by performers, bling bling has become synonymous with showy, extravagant style, and widespread enough to merit an entry in the latest edition of the Oxford English Dictionary. There was a time when prestigious, high-fashion magazines were the principal dress motivators of the style-conscious. Times have changed and fashionistas now look to the stars for inspiration–that is, the ones seen in movies, on television, and making grand entrances at awards extravaganzas. Indeed, celebrities are even pushing the fashion professionals out of the front row at fashion shows.
“While designer clothes are always important, jewelry and accessories are at the forefront of today’s fashion and are the real show-stoppers on the international runways this year,” explains Chad Crawford, creative director, a New York-based internet retailer. The most sizzling ornamentations merit the superlative descriptive, “bling bling”. From opulent to vintage to American western-inspired, these hot new looks include layers of multi-tiered gemstone necklaces; bangled and bejeweled cuff bracelets; chandelier and hoop earrings; and gem-encrusted, pearl-faced watches with glittering bright bands. Such fashion influences, it seems, are coming from everywhere in today’s media-conscious world–TV talk-show hosts Katie Couric and Diane Sawyer with their gorgeous gams enhanced by Manolo Blahnik shoes; Sharon Stone at the recent Emmy’s in an eye-popping shiny satin gown with dangly cluster diamond earrings; and at the Cannes Film Festival, Angelina Jolie exuding subtle sexiness in a Dolce & Gabbana tuxedo look complete with white shirt and jeweled hoop earrings.
“Fabulous jewelry worn by glamorous mega-stars like Jennifer Aniston, Halle Berry, and J. Lo, are driving our current fashion trends,” says Crawford citing strong customer preferences at “The most stylish consumers are purchasing gems that are ‘red carpet ready’.” For Emily Hopkins, who wishes to look sensational for every occasion, it’s only a matter of “putting on the glitz”. Attending an elegant engagement party she may wear an ultra-feminine black silk chiffon and lace slip dress with glistening crystal and pearl chandelier earrings and a cuff bracelet, and later, at the rehearsal dinner, wear the same dress with a rose quartz and pink garnet heirloom necklace with delicate teardrop earrings. In the bling of an eye, she has a whole new look. The focus on jewelry isn’t confined to the ladies. Guys are even being smitten by the bling bling siren.
Taking their lead from rap stars and athletes, more mainstream males choose to adorn themselves in some form of jewelry. In fact, many established jewelry companies have recently introduced collections devoted exclusively to men. For instance, to go with the velvet blazer, which fashion oracle Philip Bloch, L.A.’s “stylist to the stars”, calls this season’s truly stand-out look for men, guys are choosing handsome cufflinks, tie clips, and unique belt buckles as a great way to finish off a look that’s just right for a bachelor party or wedding lunch. Crawford agrees and is enthusiastic about success with the trendy “Hot Diamonds” and Invicta watch collections – both with several styles for men. So, for both guys and gals, when dressing for wedding parties or other special occasions, it’s not just a matter of what to wear, but how much you want to dazzle. The fun is in putting it all together and finding the right pieces of jewelry and interesting accessories–often great conversation pieces and ice-breakers at any social engagement. The internet is a great source, with online retail sites such presenting an impressive selection of star-style bling bling that will put the wearer on center stage.