Fab Collab: The Ageless Appeal of Pearls at Forty-Plus

4 women ages 40 to 70 style pearls in a modern way.

Pearls have been harvested and treasured for centuries. Ever since that first fisherman discovered the iridescent beauty inside the shell of an oyster, each generation has found its own way of wearing pearls.

This week, Jodie and her crew from JTouchofStyle.com have been kind enough to join me in a Fab Collab to demonstrate how four decades of women carry on this centuries-old tradition. You’ll not only get to see how we wear our pearls, you’ll get a peek into our personal histories and hear a little about our connection to these precious gemstones.

Throughout this week, I’ll link back from my blog and social media to each of Jodie’s posts. I recommend also subscribing to her blog so as never to miss out on a moment of the fun.

The Value of a Pearl Necklace

In order to understand the value of my pearls, we first need to go back to Oklahoma just a few years before it became a state in 1907. My great-grandmother was just a toddler. She and her family moved to that territory from Missouri in a covered wagon with hopes of making a better life for themselves by farming the land.

To my knowledge, the greatest success they had was in the love their family members had for one another and the support they offered each other. They never saw riches of the material sort, not even after my great-grandmother married (at 15 years old!) and started a family of her own. Her husband died when he was in his 40s and she lived out the next 50-plus years on her own. Needless to say, she was not rolling in dough.

An old black and white photo of my great-grandmother and her adult children.
My great-grandmother is the white-haired lady at the center of this photo. Her many surviving children surround her.

So, you can imagine my mother’s surprise when my great-grandmother gifted her with the pearl necklace shown below. It is real and none of us know how old it is. We don’t know if it was a family heirloom passed down from one generation to another or if our grandmother saved her pennies for the day when she could buy this special gift for my mom.

A double-strand pearl necklace

My mother tells me that she only wore the necklace rarely because she was afraid she would break it or damage it somehow. The irony is that I have had the necklace for years not knowing that it was real, not knowing that it was a gift from my great-grandmother, not realizing how truly valuable it is to our family. It’s not that I’ve banged it up, but had I known more about its history, I would have cared for it as more than just costume jewelry.

My mom dressed in 1950s-era pink lace, gloves, and pearls.
This is the only photo I have of my mother possibly wearing the necklace. It’s hard to tell if she’s wearing pearls or something else, but the time period is about right — she’s about 16 in this photo.

 Styling a Family Heirloom

As much as I would love to tell you that I’m in love with the outfit I paired my necklace with, the truth is, I’m not. This project is about me pushing my boundaries to find my signature style. This week, I’m giving you a look that I put together when nothing else seemed to work. It is a fall-back on the way I have dressed in the past — jeans, black jacket, cream-colored tee.

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At least the dog is still in the background for comic relief!

In spite of it being a fall-back option, I will say that I like how the jacket provides a frame for the necklace. That was what was most important to me. Other tops I tried swallowed up or blended in with the pearls. The color of the top, along with the scoop of the neckline, echoes the color and scoop of the necklace. The black jacket sets it all off.

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Classic urban casual look with black jacket, cream top, jeans, and a strand of pearls, complete with a side of husband silliness.
Bonus photo: This look isn’t complete without a photo-bombing husband and the consequential giggles.

What I Learned

This Fab Collab has taught me more than I ever expected when Jodie and I first started talking about working together. Not only did I learn the history of a special necklace I have in my jewelry box, I learned the next steps I need to take with this blog. I need to start pushing my boundaries more, trying things that have, in the past, made me feel uncomfortable (like lace!), and seeing just how far I can go away from the sea of black, gray, brown, and blue currently in my closet.

Coming up in April, my blog’s theme will be April in Paris — A whole month inspired by the iconic fashions of Paris, complete with colors, patterns, and all things “girlie.” Even lace. (ACK!)

Also, Jodie and her crew will be back in July! We had so much fun doing this collaboration, we’ve got more in store for the future!


Shop this Look:

Pearl Necklace (gift): Similar  |  Zenobia blazer (thrifted): Similar, Similar on ThredUp in 2P  |  Eileen Fisher cream-colored silk tee  |  J.Crew Matchstick Dark Wash Jeans (thrifted): SimilarExact on ThredUp in 25S  |  Salvatore Ferragamo shoes (thrifted): Similar

 

 

  • You are such the storyteller girl!! Could you imagine your great grandmother’s life?
    And I really like the blazer with pearls—there’s a dichotomy of business vs. elegance that is fabulous!!
    Your pearls are such a nice weight—very big and stand outish—I’m hoping you end up wearing them with lots! Don’t forget you can always layer other necklaces with them !! jodie
    http://www.jtouchofstyle.com

    • You are the awesomest, Jodie!! I’m so so so thankful we connected and worked together! And I can’t wait for July when we do it all again! You’re the greatest!!

      Smooches! 🙂
      – Sherry

  • I love hearing stories behind pieces and this was wonderful. And I like the simplicity of the look with the pearls.
    As I mentioned over on Jodie’s blog I wore pearls on my wedding day – a 3 strand illusion necklace with matching illusion bracelet earrings. Pearls are my birthstone and they are known as the ‘stone of sincerity’ so they were such an obvious choice for a day about making vows!
    Love your photo bombers – both!

    http://petitesilvervixen.blogspot.co.uk/

    • What a wonderful story about your own pearls! Like you, I love hearing stories about pieces and I can just imagine how elegant — and sincere — your pearls were on your wedding day. Are there photos on your blog I could see? (I’ll run over and see if I can find any!)

      • No, no photos of my wedding pearls on my blog BUT I have worn them quite alot since getting married. And funnily enough quite often for weddings! Um….. maybe I should do a post about them in June which is the month related to pearls! Thanks for the idea!

  • What a great story. We need to do more story telling and I think it is equally important to hang on to treasures that have been passed down to us. Your pearls are the perfect example. I like the way your styled it will the black jacket as well. Elegant, but casual. Thanks for sharing. – Amy-
    http://www.stylingrannymama.com

  • What fascinating reading! How lovely to have such a special heirloom and along with your grandmother’s gorgeous brooch you featured in Girling Up La Garconne, it shows style and good taste are in your genes Sherry – you can’t fight that! What a shame nobody knows how your great grandmother came by the necklace – maybe you will uncover the full story some day. In the meantime, she would be so proud to see it looking so beautiful on her great granddaughter. A perfect classic look – I love the smart jacket (a bit like a tux jacket, which is on my wish list!) and jeans and I can’t ignore your two hilarious photo bombers – Director doggie and his assistant! 🙂

    • What wonderful comments, Astrid! Thank you! You really picked up on something I hope to do with my blog, which is sort of this mix of today’s fashion with my own personal history, including family history. At the risk of sounding completely corny, my ancestors are a part of me and, if I can somehow integrate who they were into how I dress too, I feel more whole and fulfilled somehow. Thank you for calling that forward.

      I would love to know the back-in-time story behind where the necklace originated. You’ve got me thinking — maybe an appraiser with some knowledge on antique jewelry would be a good place to start? They could at least date it for me, don’t you think?

      As for my photo bombers — it makes me so happy when they get involved in my photos shoots! The pictures seem to turn out better too!!

  • What a surprise to find that necklace was so valuable! Your great grandmother must have been a strong woman to be the head of the family and manage to do it all by herself. Your mother looks beautiful by the way.
    Laurie x

    • Hi Laurie! Yes–my great-grandmother fit Shakespeare’s description in Midsummer Night’s Dream: “Though she be but little she is fierce.” She was smaller than I am. And yet she had five children who survived to adulthood and they all ate as well as they could and they all knew they were loved. My grandmother always talks about that — how they all knew they were loved. That’s something pretty special.

      The other part of this story I haven’t told yet is that this family–the people I grew up calling grandparents–adopted my mom when she was a pre-teen. My great grandmother had only known my mom for five or six years by the time she gave my mom the necklace, but she loved her like her own flesh and blood. I just realized this makes the necklace even more special! 🙂

  • What a wonderful story!
    That necklace deserves to be worn and worn.
    So pretty….and real quality too.
    I loved the photobombing from your dog…and your naughty hubby!
    XXX
    Samantha

    • You’re so right, Samantha! I was just thinking about wearing the necklace as a bracelet if I can get it to work around my wrist well. And those two photo bombers are characters!

      Hope you’re having a great weekend!!

      – Sherry

  • What a special necklace!!! I loved learning its history!

    And I like your fall-back outfit! It looks great on you, and it’s so important to have a couple fall-back options that you know will work when nothing else does… I have been playing more and more with pearls lately (real ones I got on my wedding day as well as costume ones), and I’ve found I can’t force it. The times it works, it just happens naturally and often unexpectedly…

    • Thank you, Andrea! I’m learning through this blog how to broaden my horizons, but I’m also learning how to embrace my own tendencies and appreciate what they bring. Your comments help me do this.

      You’re also right about it being an organic thing wearing pearls (real or otherwise). I tried to force them on other outfits and none of them worked. I wonder if this is true for other pieces of jewelry or if this trait is special to pearls. I don’t wear a lot of jewelry in general — I tend to wear it when something speaks to me in that organic way. So now you have me thinking. 🙂

  • Sherry, I found you on Jodie’s blog, which I am now obsessively reading backwards. Your story and the pearl necklace itself are exquisite. The outfit you chose showcases the necklace perfectly. I am a fashion and style obsessed lady of 63 with a love of all things pretty, great and small. I’ll be reading your blog now too! While I enjoy the fashion and beauty mags I look through at the salon each month, it is WAY more fun for me to look at lovely, stylish women who are AT LEAST 40! Thank you for doing this blog.

    • Hi Kathleen! Thank you so much for visiting my blog and adding such a thoughtful comment! It is definitely more fun to visit real people’s blogs for inspiration. I have found the Over-40 community overall to be welcoming, passionate, and authentic. I hope you find it to be so as well! Stay tuned for new posts from me in the near future!

      – Sherry

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