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Energize Your Winter Wardrobe with Vintage Jewels

By Barbara Schwartz November 09, 2016 Makeup and Fashion

Autumn is my favorite season. For one thing, I have more energy in cooler weather. But it’s not just the changing temperatures that make me feel this way – it’s the splashes of yellow, orange, and red foliage that seem to be everywhere in the fall months. All three of these warm hues are associated with energy.

Did you know that the colors around you impact the way you feel? And that the colors you wear can influence how you want to feel and how others perceive you?

Why Wear Yellow and Orange?

You probably already wear red to some degree, so I’m going to focus on the less popular yellow and orange. Don’t let them scare you. Color psychologists suggest that we wear these hues whenever we want to evoke pleasant, cheerful feelings, convey a sense of playfulness, or stimulate activity and creativity.

My favorite way of embellishing neutral clothing with vibrant colors outside of my comfort zone is with accessories, starting with the jewelry. Let me show you examples of different types of costume jewels from different decades that will enliven your wardrobe. Some are more colorful than others, so you can choose which ones suit your personal style.


Earrings accentuate the face, and the perfect pair can add the finishing touch to any outfit. Both pairs shown here clip onto the earlobe. Known as clip backs or ear clips, this type of earring can be worn by women with or without pierced ears.

The pair on the left from the 1940s features gold-washed sterling flower petals that surround faceted, oval golden glass stones. The design and use of metal softens the impact of the color. While the 1950s pair by Dior on the right is much brighter, the combination of yellows, browns, and greens seems to melt together.

You could wear either pair with a gold chain necklace and/or a simple gold bangle bracelet.


A necklace is a way to dress up a casual outfit or add interest to a simple one. Both of the necklaces shown here are from the Art Deco era. The one on the left has clusters of yellow and clear glass beads intertwined, creating a three-dimensional effect.

On the right is a variation of a chicklet, a modern name for a type of necklace comprised of open-back, clear- or colored-glass stones set in metal mountings that are linked together. Although the coloration of both necklaces is lessened by the clear beads/stones, the necklace on the right appears much more subdued.

If you want to wear earrings with either necklace, I suggest that you choose a simple pair to allow the necklace to be the main feature. A citrine stud, a diamond (real or faux) stud, or even a small pair of silver hoops would work.


A brooch is the most versatile of jeweled embellishments because of the many ways in which it can be worn. Each one shown here is a definite statement piece, i.e., a bold and unique piece of jewelry that expresses the personality of the wearer. If the colors of these stones are outside of your comfort zone, consider wearing one of these brooches to enliven a dark neutral you like.

The 1950s Miriam Haskell piece on the left has loads of sparkle and color, due to the size, shape, and number of golden stones that contrast with the clear ones. Although the hand-made 1940s Hobé brooch on the right (which comes with matching earrings) is over 4” long, it has a much quieter appearance – the golden stones are colorful accents to the sterling leaves, buds, stems, and bows that dominate the piece.

For earrings, I would wear faux or real diamond studs with the Haskell brooch and either the matching earrings or sterling hoops with the Hobé.


From the time of Cleopatra to the present day, bracelets have been popular and easy-to-wear decorative accessories. If you’re timid about wearing yellow and orange tones near your face, a bracelet is the perfect alternative for adorning yourself with these colors. If you typically wear long sleeves, consider turning back your cuffs and adding a bit of sparkle to your wrist.

On the left is a 1950s creation by Elsa Schiaparelli. The brown glass stones are intricately faceted, and the gold-tone scroll settings are linked with single yellow stones. Simple gold hoop earrings would complement this piece.

The Art Deco bracelet on the right has four large faceted yellow stones set in sterling silver, with filigree links. You could wear Art Deco dangling citrine earrings in a simple design, sterling hoop earrings, or citrine studs with this bracelet.

How to Wear These Jewels

You can see these pieces styled with contemporary fashions in my blog post on wearing citrine and topaz, the popular gemstones in shades of yellow and golden honey.

Do you wear vintage costume jewelry? What is your favorite jewelry accessory? Do you wear shades of yellow and orange? If not yet, do you plan to try? Please join the conversation below to share your style story.

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The Author

Barbara Schwartz is a costume jewelry historian and the proprietor of TruFaux Jewels, a boutique of exquisite costume jewels from the 1920s-1950s. Through her blog, social media, and private coaching sessions, she helps women create their unique, personal styles by accessorizing contemporary fashion with vintage costume jewelry.

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