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I Only Want to Own Tortoiseshell Accessories

Only part of the author’s vast tortoiseshell collection.

Did you know that tortoiseshell cats (called “torties”) are almost exclusively female? Some other little-known tortie facts: They often have hot-tempered personalities (called “tortitude”), and are considered tokens of good luck in Ireland and Scotland.

In a way, you could call me a tortie: I anger easily, have two X chromosomes, and decorate myself more or less entirely with tortoiseshell-patterned accessories.

I always have. I bought a set of tortoiseshell barrettes from J.Crew in elementary school, wore tortoiseshell glasses through high school and college, and have delighted at the recent spate of acrylic tortoiseshell accessories: earrings made by designers like Alexandrine Paris and Jennifer Matchett, a tortoise version of the perennially popular Cult Gaia bag, and tortoiseshell patent-leather slides from Maryam Nassir Zadeh.

A tortoiseshell pattern is adaptable: It enhances the studiousness of a pair of glasses; the elegance of a hair clip, the charm of a set of flatware, the cuteness of a cat. And it’s timeless, too: A recent Christie’s sale included 18th- and 19th-century tortoiseshell lighters, hairbrushes, bangles, and brooches; a recent Need Supply email blast listed a tortoiseshell toothbrush, hairbrush, and pair of teardrop earrings.

Below, a few of my favorite 2018 takes on the century-old pattern.

Clip

Parcelona French Large Celluloid Claw
$10 at Amazon

This is a very cute thing to throw in your hair when you’re wearing a simple outfit.

Toothbrush

Koh-I-Noor Jaspé Natural Bristle Toothbrush Soft
$25 at Needsupply

Guests will think, Even her toothbrush is elegant, when they use your bathroom.

Sunglasses

Sun Buddies Courtney Sunglasses in Blonde Tortoise
$165 at Needsupply

Just great sunglasses. And Sun Buddies are extremely solid and long-lasting.

Bag

Cult Gaia Acrylic Ark Mini in Tortoise
$195 at Need Supply

It must be that tortie luck! This Cult Gaia bag in tortoise is 30 percent off.

Sandal

Melissa Cosmic II Sandal
$90 at Nordstrom

My colleague recently became enamored with these cool sandals. It’s set off a bit of a chain reaction.

Maryam Nassir Zadeh Lauren Tortoiseshell Patent-Leather Slides
$209 at Moda Operandi

Or you can try the slightly splurgier — but on sale! — MNZ sandal.

Reading glasses

Eyebobs Spank Me 45mm Reading Glasses
$89 at Nordstrom

My dad swears by Eyebobs. When I asked him where he first found the brand, he said, “Canada.” No further explanation.

Earrings

L. Erickson Skinny Mini Hoop Earrings
$38 at Nordstrom

A cheaper alternative to MNZ or Bird.

Fortune Tortoise Kate Hoops
$44 at Etsy

The aforementioned Jennifer Matchett hoops.

Bird Medium Square Hoop Earrings
$70 at Bird

But if you have to have them.

Lighter

Tsubota Pearl Tortoise Lighter
$40 at Tetra

And this. This lighter was in our 2017 Gift Guide, and I’m still completely obsessed with it.

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I Only Want to Own Tortoiseshell Accessories