At age 16, before I got a fake ID, I would sneak into dingy Connecticut bars and clubs with my best friend to listen to bands and drink whiskey sours. Our theory, that wearing lipstick and a pair of long earrings made us look closer to 21, seemed to work at the time. In retrospect, I’m sure the earrings had nothing to do with it. But now, far into adulthood, I still rely on several pairs of dangly earrings to give me a jolt of confidence in situations where I feel inexperienced or new to the game. Like makeup, earrings are a finishing touch, punctuation to an outfit that helps me feel a little more adult in certain situations. They’re the armor I put on before leaving the house.
For the past few years, my earrings have come almost exclusively from COS. The budget minimalist’s dream brand, which is owned by H&M, feels more like a mashup of Muji and Marimekko — minus the vibrant floral prints. I own a few pairs of COS jeans and have gone crazy over shapeless dresses and boxy jackets at some of their sales. But it’s the jewelry at COS, in my opinion, that makes the brand special. The current collection includes mismatched gold-tone studs, wood and brass drop earrings, and a ’60s-inspired pair of amber-colored resin baubles — ideal for women who want to make a medium-size splash. And the quality is solid so the stuff never looks cheap.
My current go-tos are a wobbly pair of silver-toned solid brass earrings that hang down just below my jaw and make a little clinking sound when I touch them. They give off hoop energy but actually attach to my lobes with posts, satisfying my simultaneous desires for practicality and flair. (I have lost more earrings than I can count due to insecure backings.) Each earring is made up of two interlocking rings that have been hammered to give them an imperfect, undulating shape. While I bought them online for less than $50, including shipping, I think they look like more like they’re from a small indie line stocked at Need Supply or Bird Brooklyn. And I get just as many compliments as when I wear a similar $200 handmade pair from In God We Trust.
Like my other COS earrings, they’re extremely lightweight and go with everything in my closet from beat-up overalls to formal wedding attire. I have worn them to work, to dinner with my boyfriend’s parents, to art openings, and to coffee with a new very stylish friend I wanted to impress. On days when all of my clothes feel lame or like they don’t fit me the way they should, I pull these earrings out and instantly feel a little bit cooler, like a stylish woman with her shit together.
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