You may not be on board with pearls, which is totally fine. I really respect your willingness to disagree with me and as a matter of fact, I admire it. But in the event you are intrigued, I ask you to consider the following: we have known that pearls would abandon the profile implications of their past life as the official armor of housewives on Nantucket, both aspiring and not, the moment Phoebe Philo sent them down her runway as earrings last September for Spring 2017. From there they would maintain an air of edge, iconoclasm, even an air of cool.

Of course, a strand of pearls wrapped around your neck is different from the small, dangling mother of pearl earrings Philo showed, but this is the joy of fashion, people! Interpretation. That is, abandoning what is so literal (putting pearls in your ears) and charting a course (that includes them around your neck, for example) that suits you better. Or me better. So here are five ways I plan to wear pearls as modeled by Juliet Johnstone, an artist you might recognize from the Outdoor Voices billboards that currently freckle downtown New York.

1. The Obviously Unexpected Way

Leather and pearls! The most cliché of contradictions this side of HBO. But what if you decide to forgo a shirt all together, keep the jacket unzipped, make sure your strands are layered neatly and then put a fresh flower in your hair? Or maybe I can do you one better: what if you wear shoes on your hands? Bet no one saw that coming.

2. The I’m-Not-on-Vacation-but-Man-I-Wish-I-Were Way

One basic principle that I strongly believe will soften the blow of winter includes wearing a straw hat through the season because, you know, if I can’t de facto be on the beach, I sure as shit can pretend. Add a sweater, don’t bring an under shirt, and layer something gold with another strand of pearls because we are a versatile, non-discriminatory people and as far as I am concerned, all precious metals (heads? Stones?) were created equal.

3. The Loulou de la Falaise Way

I spent so much of summer talking about how to look like a lady of leisure without actually needing to be one (we are working women with places to go and people to see, dammit). I’d like to suggest bringing that dressing tenet into fall with turbans and extravagant costume pearls and this exquisite jacket with satin lapels. Just do me a favor: I know it is tempting but don’t light up a cigarette. That shit will kill you.

4. The “Oh This Old Thing? I’ve Had it For Years!” Way

The most digestible way to wear a strand of pearls is probably with a crew neck t-shirt. You can try any number of tees: that of the vintage variety, something striped, something really new, but I would suggest you keep it crew neck, have the pearls hug your neck for dear life like they are never going to come off and add an earring or two for good measure because you’re just wearing a t-shirt anyway — have a little fun with your lobes. You’ve got nothing to lose (other than, probably, elasticity). Per the sunglasses: definitively optional, but so much fun.

And finally!

5. The Way with the Striped Shirt

Please excused her uncuffed sleeves! It is unbecoming of someone who mastered the Jenna Lyons sleeve roll (see: this video) but I digress. Consider this lewk your, uh, passport to nowhere with its triple strand of pearls, two rhinestone earrings clipped into a single lobe and that one dangly guy, a conversation starter at worst and the reason I’m still alive at best.

What was that? Nothing, never mind. The point is this: are you in or are you out?

Photos by Edith Young.

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  • Elise

    I saw these looks and nearly smashed my phone I dialed my grandmother’s number so hard.

    • marieta

      you made me laugh with noise

  • Meemaw

    I am Always IN for pearls.

    • Charlie

      Yes – always!

  • Cynthia Schoonover

    I have always loved pearls. They work with everything.

    • Sarah


  • I feel like I put in a request for this exact story like two years ago when my sister bought me a beautiful strand of Tiffany pearls. I have so much guilt for almost never wearing them. They have no edge! Correction: had. I will give them edge. TYSM, Leandra.

  • Sarah Mårtensson

    I feel a sudden urge to call all my older relatives..

  • Leslie Hitchcock

    ::slow clap:: The Southerner-in-exile in me looks at her city-self and realizes all of those bygone pearls need to be trotted out in an unconventional way. Thank you for the inspo, LMC!

  • Caroline Christianson

    Long pearl necklace (pearls large but below the cheap looking threshold) with a knot at the bottom!!!!! !!!!! !!!!! Or many strands starting as a choker – haven’t found the ideal one yet but have been looking for a year now

  • Um, WHY haven’t I thought of pairing my pearls with a t shirt?? Getting outfit ideas for work next week right meow thx guys!

    • Kiks

      I wore mine with a Rolling Stones tshirt and satin gym shorts last weekend. It was pretty fun.

      • Sarah

        That sounds like an amazing outfit! Wanna do the look with my REM shirt but unfortunately I don’t have satin shorts : ( maybe I could wear my lace ones instead?

        • Kiks

          That sounds even better TBH 🙂 🙂

  • Ciccollina

    Dear MR: Are coin necklaces over? I’ve wanted one for so long but I’m afraid I’ve missed the boat.

    • Aydan

      NO! My friend has an incredible gold one that she wears all the time and EVERYONE compliments her–its so gorgeous!!!

      • Ciccollina

        OOooh thank you! Do you happen to know where she got it? I am desperate for an Aligheri one but they are very “treat yourself”.

        • Aydan

          I think she got it at a vintage shop 🙁

  • Lilli

    Buuuuuut Charlotte York is an angel !?!?

  • pearlz4evr

    Pearls: Classic & timeless. I cherish the 18″ strand I bought in Tokyo.

    I’m IN, sista !

  • Megan

    Thank you Leandra, I desperately needed to find a way to wear my grandmother’s beautiful pearls! They all look amaazing but espesh number 5.

  • eden

    *Clutching my pearls* These are cute! I can’t believe I never thought of these.

  • spicyearlgrey

    Look 2 looks INCREDIBLE

  • Greer Clarke

    brb developing an obsession with Juliet Johnston

  • Kiks

    My husband bought me pearls for Christmas last year. At the time, I was in the throes of a suicidal depression brought on by my horrible anxiety and had been acting like a complete monster for months. I know it sounds silly, but realizing that he still loved me even in that terrible state was a really big moment in wanting to get better. So, I wear my pearls at every opportunity and with everything. They remind me that it’s all going to be ok. Thanks for the new ideas!

  • Sarah

    Love love love these looks! The softness of pearls contrasts so well with the edginess of leather and graphic t-shirts, or the boyishness of a button-down.

  • Jessica Amento

    Get out of my head, Man Repeller! I spent all weekend organizing my jewelry and unearthed a few of my Grandmother’s pearls… Amped to rock them.

  • Helen

    I recently bought an Ann Boleyn(/Ugly Betty) necklace and haven’t had a clue how to style it. This is sooper dooper handy, thaaaanks