There are two possible reactions to hearing that Jubilee Jones is bringing back the dress clip:
- Joy and delight (my reaction).
- Confusion (the reaction 90% of the people I told).
That’s why we’re going to start today with a definition.
What is a dress clip?
A dress clip is a brilliant piece of jewelry that peaked in popularity around the 1930’s. Dress clips are versatile brooches that attach via a clip, rather than with a traditional pin fitting. They latch onto the edge of a piece of fabric, fur, shoe, glove, or lock of hair. You can put them on basically anything.
Dress clips are usually made in pairs or sets: rather than just one piece, they’re two identical pieces that can be worn together or separately.
Ava Gardner / Carole Lombard / Wallis Simpson
Coco Chanel / Agnes Moorehead / Tallulah Bankhead
If you’ve ever looked at photos of devastatingly stylish women of the past, you’ve seen a dress clip. I’ve rounded up just a few here for you. I actually found so many great examples that I started a Pinterest board just for dress clips.
Many dress clips, especially the higher end Art Deco versions, include mechanisms for the two separate clips to join together into one larger piece or sometimes other pieces of jewelry as well. This bang for your buck probably helped the dress clip trend hang on through the Great Depression, when the concept enjoyed great success in the hands of many costume jewelry manufactures.
The dress clip is a fantastic piece of jewelry, and I’ve always loved them and thought it was a shame that they had no modern equivalent…at least, they didn’t until now!
Chelsea, the design genius behind Jubilee Jones, collected vintage dress clips from flea markets around LA for years before deciding to start making them herself. A longtime jewelry lover with a fashion background, Chelsea’s favorite part of dress clips are their versatility.
In her own words:
I have to credit Queen Elizabeth II for sparking my love of jewelry and introducing me to dress clips in the first place. She has arguably the most impressive jewelry collection in the world and it includes a diamond and aquamarine double clip brooch by Boucheron her parents gave her for her 18th birthday. That was back in 1944 and she still wears it regularly. After seeing tons of pictures of it over the years, I wanted to hunt down a costume jewelry version and learn everything I could about dress clips.
Each Jubilee Jones piece is made with great care and attention – we use Czech and Swarovski crystals and each stone is set by hand – in the hope that they can be worn and enjoyed for decades to come.”
Jubilee Jones was kind enough to lend me some dress clips to play with and let me tell you, it was hard to give them back. I loved them.
They’re so easy to throw onto anything, and because they’re a clip and not a true pin, they don’t leave any holes in your clothes (or shoes, or hats, or bags).
The dress clip allows you to do one of my favorite things to do with any piece of jewelry: sparkle in an unexpected manner. Even when you’re wearing a small dress clip, the fact that they let you adorn yourself in an out-of-the-ordinary way means that you stand out, even when your look isn’t particularly flamboyant.
Every time I wore them, I’d be asked about them the second I took off my jacket. Usually it took people a minute to figure out what was catching their attention: “Oh, you look great! Is that…a new dress? Or…oh wait, are those part of the dress?”
I had so much fun wearing the Jubilee Jones Bette dress clip at this wedding that I forgot to take any pictures of myself at all. The only evidence I have of my outfit is this photo booth strip where I’m wearing a fuzzy hat shaped like the poo emoji.
This was the wedding where I also discovered an unintended benefit to the Jubilee Jones’ dress clip.
I don’t know about you, my dears, but I am not built in a way that lets me go braless under fancy dresses. Usually when I go out for the night in a dress with wide straps, or even short sleeves, I have to constantly push my bra straps back up.
But with a dress clip holding on to each of my bra straps, those suckers didn’t budge an inch. I didn’t have to adjust them one single time – they just stayed where I wanted them, firmly held to the fabric of my dress.
To be clear: I was at a good friend’s wedding in the middle of the desert. The activities were: champagne, celebrating, dancing, champagne, frolicking among cacti, and champagne. Bra straps did not budge.
I really put the dress clips to the test. And they performed brilliantly.
Since each Jubilee Jones dress clip is made with crystal, rather than diamonds, the price point is truly achievable: the smaller ones start at under $100. And with the coupon code I’m about to give you, you’ll be able to take an additional 15% off of your whole Jubilee Jones order!
JUBILEEINTHELIBRARY will work from now until June 30th, which gives you just about two weeks to decide which dress clips you want.
Which do you think you’ll choose? I’m torn between the Bette dress clip or the Flora petite dress clip.
Images c/o Jubilee Jones or by me unless otherwise credited.
Have you entered my giveaway yet? 5 of you will win a copy of Brilliance and Fire: A Biography of Diamonds!
Cheryl Peterson says
I love dress clips. I can’t afford the real ones but have a couple of rhinestone ones. I am trying to single handedly revive sweater/collar clips. I make them using vintage clip earrings. Check it out:
I would love to buy one someday!
They’re pretty fabulous! And the 15% off coupon code is good through the end of June if you decide you can’t live without one 😉
Jaenice Palmer says
Dress clips? I FAINT. I’ve known about them for a little while now and these examples are gorgeous! I’d think about it from time to time, some variation of “would someone pretty please bring back dress clips”, and now here they are. Beautimous!
Ahaha yes!! My feelings exactly. And she’s done such a good job: they have everything that was so amazing about vintage dress clips, but they’re well made and fit so well with modern style.
You know, with the coupon code, most of these are around or under $100. For how frequently you’ll be able to wear them, that’s basically a steal. (I’m probably going to buy two different sets.)
Jaenice Palmer says
Hmm–I’ll keep that in mind the next time I go shopping for presents! (And boy, do I have a backlog to catch up on, when it comes to shopping for presents, but that’s another story.) I do like the Art Deco platinum look of the clips, although most of the time I’m more of a golden girl myself.
Yes, she has done a good job, and I hope she expands the collection! The clips from the Retro phase in jewelry, I think, are a beautiful inspiration–how adorable would it be to have pieces with names like Kate, Roz, Babs, and Eve? It is a pity clips fell out of fashion in the 1950s, and I don’t understand why Fred Leighton insists on converting dress clips into earrings!
It’s so much fun to ‘meet’ some more dress clips fans via Diamonds in the Library.
So glad you like the clips and yep – we’re excited to have a new collection in development that will launch in the fall! Thanks so much for the feedback on liking gold finishes as well – it’s on our list! Oh, and amen to not converting vintage dress clips into earrings or anything else – they are just so beautiful as is…
Jaenice Palmer says
I was reading the article that mentioned Fred Leighton doing this, and my immediate thought was, “Whaa? Why would you do such a thing?” Look, I get it–even if brooches are often seen as “old lady” (how that makes me cringe as I type the words!), more people understand them than they do dress clips, which is a pity. But we find vintage-loving vixens abandoning Spanx and tights in favor of corsets and stockings with garters, so why not promote dress clips over a literal interpretation of a giant gladiolus? Not that I have anything against gladioli, but the profusion of flora and fauna in jewelry can only go so far. I think that’s one reason why I like dress clips–they’re abstract beauties in a host of shapes and forms that can take you from office to party without too much fuss.
I’ve always liked gold, and whenever I see the perfect marriage of craftsmanship, wit, and whimsy expressed in gold, I can’t stop smiling for hours afterward. So of course when I see something in platinum or what have you that I like, I catch myself saying, “Would they have that in gold too?” Sometimes the same design does show up in gold, which is when I break out my dancing shoes for sheer happiness. And sometimes it doesn’t, so I’m left baffled and frustrated. And then of course you have different variants–rose gold, red gold, so on and so forth.
So you are launching a new collection later this year! I wondered a little about that. I look forward to seeing it!
i adore dress clips! i have a couple of vintage sets, and some stray singles, and i have found them delightfully versatile little beauties. how wonderful that at least one designer is bringing them back…
Isn’t it just the best news?? I was so excited when I first heard (and I still am, really). I’m so glad I’m not the only member of Team Dress Clip anymore.
OMG! Team Dress Clip! I might have to join it. And the fact that they’ll double as a brooch…sold! When it’s scarf weather, I wear the pearl sunburst pendant/brooch I won in your drawing a few years ago. It pins the scarf in place and serves as a bit of sparkle when a necklace wouldn’t show. I bet a dress clip could work too! One of the small clips could be fixed to a mitten since rings and bracelets wouldn’t do… so many possibilities! (It’s so hot down here in East Texas that all I want to think about is winter!)
Yes!!! Team Dress Clip has so many fabulous members now.