Bring on the sparkling brooches

— by Alyson Walsh

Photo for the Daily Telegraph: Claire Pepper


Happy New Year. I hope you had a lovely time. I took the whole week off and had a proper digital detox. No news, no social media, just lots of films and books and I even managed to do a quite-complicated jigsaw. Phew. My brain needed that. Anyhow, let’s talk brooches!

Maybe it’s a 1980s thing, but when I shared this picture from my Telegraph Ageless Style column on Instagram, one of my younger friends said, ‘Love a brooch – never thought of clustering though!’ Following this up over Christmas with a photo of a fine, tonally arranged lapel-gathering. Excellent accessorising.

My style inspiration this time round came from Ladies Gaga and Hale, and fashion revolutionary Orsola de Castro. Back in the day, I’d often wear a bevy of brooches – either vintage or costume – pinned onto a denim jacket. But when I looked inside my jewellery box expecting to find a sparkling selection there were two slightly disappointing diamanté designs, not enough to form a cluster. This dearth needs addressing. First stop, VV Rouleaux… In the run-up to Christmas, I walked past the store on Marylebone Lane and snapped this stunning, brooch-tastic display. Next time I’m in the area, I’ll be going inside that glorious treasure trove to treat myself to a decorative pin. Probably one of the glittering flowers, I prefer natural references and floral arrangements and it’s good, though not entirely necessary, to have a theme.


Brooch Heaven. VV Rouleaux


Being a lover of Casual Glamour (blending day and eveningwear, all year round), tried-and-tested everyday clothes form a reliable foundation, a great starting point on which to build and embellish. Adding a little sparkle to a cosy cardigan (I’m wearing a Jo Gordon in the photo and I also like this responsibly-sourced wool cardigan from Whistles, available in a gorgeous bright red and faded denim blue), a tweed overcoat or utility jacket, is the perfect pick-me-up. There is sartorial happiness to be found in revisiting old favourites, wearing something for yourself and not just because it’s in fashion. Putting together a refreshing, casually glamorous ensemble can make you feel good.

This year, I’m going to continue to make a conscious effort to experiment and make the most of the clothes I already own, to buy carefully and considerately, to embrace slow fashion. Sparkling brooch and statement earrings, why ever not?


Vintage Victorian brooch photo: Niki Groom



Other good places to buy brooches, include: Butler & Wilson, Susan Caplan (also available via John Lewis) and Bristol-based designer and illustrator Niki Groom creates fabric corsages to go with Victorian, silver-stamped keepsake brooches.

Wishing you all a Happy New Year, looking forward to easier times ahead. Don’t miss The Lost Daughter Maggie Gyllenhaal’s highly acclaimed directorial debut starring Olivia Coleman (my friend Edward K. Gibbon designed the costumes), and The Tourist with Jamie Dornan on BBC1. Perhaps he could be the new James Bond…




Style Notes: the burnt orange wool cardigan is from Jo Gordon. Organic cotton corduroy skirt is by Toast. The two smaller brooches are vintage from Susan Caplan, the larger is a newer version from Anthropologie (now sold out). All items were loaned for the Telegraph shoot and returned. The gold vermeil hoop earrings were a gift from Auree jewellery

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  Happy New Year. I hope you had a lovely time.