How to Wear Vintage Brooches

If you have a shyer personality type, you might feel yourself cringe at the idea of wearing a big, sparkly costume jewelry piece in public, even if you find yourself completely in love with it privately. The good news is, feeling awkward about wearing vintage jewelry could be a simple as not being certain how to wear it properly. Knowing how to wear vintage jewelry to create the effect you want is the biggest step you can take toward gaining the confidence you need to look and feel natural while pinning on your favorite vintage brooch.

The best way to know what will look great on you is to take a look at how different women have worn their jewelry over the years. By analyzing some iconic women from the past, we can identify how to wear our favorite chunky jewelry pieces with pride!

Merna Loy c. 1930s wearing a brooch at her neckline

Myrna Loy c. 1930s wearing a brooch at her neckline. 

Brooches at the neckline

Wearing a brooch at the throat of a dress with a high neckline can create a classic or an avant-garde look. The exact vibe you give off will depend on the style of your clothing and the shape and materials of the brooch you showcase. Myrna’s choice (left) echoes a slightly edgy 1930s sophisticated glamour. If she were wearing a Victorian or Edwardian dress, a cameo or other circular/oval brooch in this location might give off a more traditional air of feminine modesty or properness. Moving this or a similar brooch 4+ inches down on a plunging neckline would draw attention to the décolletage for a bombshell look ala Jean Harlow or Rita Hayworth.

Off center brooches

Wearing a brooch off-center is a look most of us can get behind. It’s a classically feminine approach that can be played up or down depending on your clothing, the other accessories you choose, and the style and type of brooch you are wearing. You can wear an off center brooch on just about any neckline, and it looks equally great on the lapel of a jacket or higher up, on the collar of your shirt. The best part of wearing a brooch this way is that you won’t need too many additional jewelry pieces. A simple pair of earrings should do the trick. There’s no need for a necklace or bracelet as the brooch creates a perfect focal point for you to show off your style. 

Elizabeth Taylor wearing a brooch

Elizabeth Taylor wearing an off-center brooch.

Grace Kelly with a Brooch on her collar
Lucile Ball in an off center brooch

Grace Kelly (left), with a brooch placed off center on the collar of her shirt. Lucille Ball (right) showcasing an off centered floral brooch.

Brooches for utility

Aside from looking amazing, brooches are pins that can do double duty to help you complete your outfit. If you are looking for a way to pin your scarf or handkerchief into place, a well-placed brooch can marry aesthetics with functionality.

Sophia Loren with a brooch

Grace Jones (left) pins her head scarf into place with a sparkly brooch. We love the way she leaves the front of the scarf draped over so that the brooch peeks out from behind. This gives the look an air of mystery and hidden glamour. Sophia Loren (right) finds the perfect folds for her neck scarf and then pins them into place with a lovely sparkling brooch offset by matching earrings.

Having fun with placement

One thing to keep in mind is that you can wear your brooch any way you choose to match your mood and your outfits. The same brooch can give off multiple vibes depending on what you’re wearing and your placement of the brooch. Jackie Kennedy provides one of my favorite examples of a single brooch used in multiple ways.

Jackie creates 3 unique looks using the same brooch. From classical (left), to glamourous (middle), to a stately (right).

While browsing the Whispering City RVA shop, you’ll see I clearly love brooches. I offer a vast collection of costume and fine vintage and antique jewelry that I have amassed over the years. Browse my Etsy shop listings here at or visit my shop on to find the perfect piece to complete your look.

Thanks for stopping by!
– Jennifer

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