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.
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