Wednesday, March 23, 2011

{Jewellery Week} Dress Clips

There's a whole world of jewellery that's fallen out of fashion since around 1950: Dress clips. Dress clips had a heyday in the 1930s and 40s, but have been rather neglected since. They can come singly or in pairs, or sometimes in the form of a "Duette", where a pair can be fastened together to form a brooch.

How to wear dress clips

Dress clips can be worn in much the same ways as brooches, except that by their nature their primary use is to accent a neckline.

♥ Fasten a pair on either side of a sweetheart neckline.
♥ Clip into the pockets of a jacket, as worn by Ella Raines, 1947.
♥ Add interest at the point of a V neckline, as seen on Betty Grable, 1949.

♥ Clip at the collar of a shirt dress, as worn by Barbara Stanwyck.
♥ To accent the strap on an asymmetrical dress, as seen on Gene Tierney.
♥ Wear two on the same side of a V-neckline for a twist on the usual.

♥ Clip a pair into the top of a collared dress or blouse.
♥ Dangle from a velvet ribbon to make a statement necklace, a la Ann Miller.
♥ Use a single clip on one side of a V-neckline.

♥ Wear an oversize clip to add drama to a wrapover or surplice bodice.
♥ Clip a pair to the shoulder straps of a glamorous evening gown (source).
♥ Wear in the corners of a square neckline.

Vintage celebrity photos from Morning Glory Antiques.

Improvise dress clips

If you're still looking for the perfect pair of Art Deco dress clips but want to try the look, vintage clip-on earrings can do double duty as dress clips.

Sparkly hairclips would also work just as well. You could even make your own by attaching beads, buttons or a lightweight broken brooch to a clip back (you can get clip-on earring backs on ebay or etsy).


  1. lovely, I love dressclips they're so neglected! My favourite way to wear them is on the corners of a square neckline. Theres a beautiful image of Jane Greer in "Out of the past" wearing long dressclips; my favourite wearer to imitate!

  2. Ooh yes that's a wonderful outfit - here's a link:

    If anyone else has any photos of celebrities wearing dress clips please share - I'd love to see!

    xx Charlotte

  3. What great inspiration! I recently stumbled upon one for sale on etsy and I might have to go search some more out!

  4. I have 3 dress clips and none of them match I use mine in my hair sometimes.

  5. This is a great post, and a good reminder for me! I've always thought dress clips were neat but have never really figured out HOW to wear them. Where do I put them? Etc. These scans gave me a whole new perspective!

  6. The clip on earring idea is brilliant! I often see a lot of huge clip-ons that look silly as earrings because of their size. I'll re-think them next time! :)

  7. I love dress clips on a square neckline - such a lovely detail. What a great idea about the clip on earrings! I hadn't ever thought of that. I have quite a few pairs that I love, but make my ears feel like exploding after 5 minutes, so I will re-issue them.

  8. Make sure you're careful if you use clip on earrings as dress clips! I have some dress clips, but they have little sharp hooks on them so they don't fall off of fabric, earrings won't have that!

    Having said that, I think clip on earrings can make wonderful shoe clips as well!

  9. Wow I'm not sure how I've missed out on this fabulous jewellery item for all these years. Thanks for enlightening me..and thought I knew a fair bit about jewellery!

  10. very impressive, you are web designer that is reflected from your blog posting here. Lovely presentational including write up as well.

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  11. ah! I have a pair from my Nan's collection in a classic art deco style. The centre brooch is broken but thanks to you I can still make use of the clips (which I mistook for clip on earrings... ouch!)


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