Jewellery Fashion, Style, Julius Caesar, Coco Chanel and Pearls


First Friday of the month is evening work drinks for my husband & I decided to gate crash.

I was sitting next to 3 learned gentlemen, and one of them said.

"Lynaire, give us a topic of conversation, aside from work, politics and religion"

Having just shared with them a recent indulgent purchase, a sense of mischief played across my mind…. so I said 'Fashion'


"Fashion, you say?"

An interesting conversation ensued about a podcast one of them had listened to.

Ref: Freakonomics – radio episode "How did the belt win?"

I have recently taken the time to listen to the podcast.

It discussed the functionality of belts from ~ 3000yrs BC – cinching in clothes and holding swords, to becoming a symbol of strength and accomplishment – as worn by cowboys, soldiers & sportsmen – to the 1920's, post WW1 when the Duke of Windsor made it a fashion statement.


An important point from the podcast is that fashion & adornment 'signal' messages to other people.

A further idea I wanted to discuss was – "Do we have the right to tell someone what to wear?"

An answer, "No, style is not a science."

Style may not be a science but we do recognise that particular 'cuts' of clothing and colours suit us more than others.

What are the dictionary definitions (Oxford & Collins)

Style ;- A form of appearance, design, type or make
- Elegance, refinement of manners, dress.


My reason for the question arose from a conversation I had had with my pearl wholesaler.

He mentioned that the N.Y. stylists tell women not to wear pearls:
"You look like your grandmother!"

This is an interesting turn around – albeit a few thousand years later– from the time of Julius Caesar.

Julius Caesar

* "Sumptuary laws were enacted by Julius Caesar to limit the display of pearls.These laws forbade the wearing of pearls below a certain rank, thus making pearls an immediate indicator of status."

Roman commentator - Pliny

Writings from a Roman society commentator – Pliny

'Our ladies quite glory in having pearls suspended from their fingers, or two or three of them dangling from their ears….Nay even more than this, they put them on their feet, and that, not only on the laces of their sandals, but all over the shoes; it is not enough to wear pearls, but they must tread upon them and walk with them under foot as well. (Historian Naturalis, 9:56)

*(Ref: Pearls: A Natural History Neil H. Landman, Paula M. Mikkelsen
Rudiger Bieler, & Bennet Bronson)

Coco Chanel

Moving back to our N.Y. stylists – does their image of a grandmother come from the era of twin sets and pearls?

Let us scroll time back from the twin set era to an iconic lady of Fashion & Style; a lady I would happily call my grandmother.

Gabrielle Bonheur Chanel – Coco Chanel

A feminist of her time, she was the woman responsible for the removal of the corset and for designing clothes that allowed freedom of movement, while remaining chic & elegant.

Coco Chanel lived life & wore clothes to her own tune.

CC quote "The most courageous act is still to think for yourself aloud"

Her tune often included lashings of pearls.


Never be afraid to wear pearls, with anything or for any occasion.

Pearls dance to their own tune.

They have been a part of society, fashion, style and statement for thousands of years.

Finally - Fashion is what you can wear, but style is what you make of it!


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