ways to wear pearls without looking old fashioned modern ways to wear pearls

14 stylish ways to wear pearls without looking old-fashioned

Pearls have been used in jewelry making for millennia, since at least 420 BC to be exact. We know this because of the pearl jewelry that was found in the sarcophagus of a Persian princess and is now on display in the Louvre museum in Paris. When you realise just how long pearls have been used in women’s accessories it’s hard to believe that pearls are seen as “old-fashioned” because they’re just so timeless and classic.

However, there are perhaps certain ways of wearing them which can make you look more mature or “old-fashioned” than others. I’ve done a lot of visual research and even tested out on myself some ways to wear pearls in a more modern way. One thing was abundantly clear, if you like feminine or classic styles then pearls are a must have staple for your wardrobe and to my surprise I found many many ways to wear them that look classy and demure without looking old-fashioned.

Related: What is modern classic fashion style and how to master it
ways to wear pearls without looking old fashioned pearl in shell

Are pearls still in style

Pearls were featured in the 2022 Spring/Summer and Fall/Winter fashion shows by some of the world’s top designers and fashion houses including Chanel, Valentino, Tom Ford and Simone Rocha. Beyond the runway however, pearls are considered a staple of timeless fashion that are never truly out of style. 

The term “pearls” itself usually refers to an actual necklace or a string of pearls that’s worn in different layers around the neck. It’s a look that is seen as “traditional” because it’s most associated with Coco Chanel and her little black dress which was then popularized by Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s in the 1970’s. If someone says “pearls are out of style” they are most likely talking about this particular way of wearing them rather than pearls as a jewelry making material.

ways to wear pearls without looking old fashioned avoid traditional pearls coco chanel
ways to wear pearls without looking old fashioned avoid traditional pearls audrey hepburn

The shape of your pearls or the way you wear them might change depending on certain seasons and trends but pearls themselves are a versatile wardrobe staple that can be worn in many different ways and can be paired with almost anything all year round. Pearls have been seen recently on style icons like Kate Middelton, Meghan Markle, Angelina Jolie and Katie Perry just to name a few. 

They may not be wearing a full string of pearls but they have kept it minimal, classy and elegant to really allow the pearls to compliment the outfit rather than stand out as a statement piece. This is the main way to ensure that pearl jewelry does not look dated on you, by adding them in a minimal way as accents or complimentary pieces that won’t attract all the attention in your outfit. However there are a lot more ways to wear them to make sure they look modern so keep reading. 

Related: How to build a classic wardrobe from scratch and long term

Does wearing pearls make you look old

It has to be said that there’s nothing wrong with looking old, and any older women I’ve met always look fabulous not only for their style but for their great attitude and energy. However, I understand that you want to make a particular impression with your style and certain accessories, clothes or even colors carry meaning and can change how you are perceived to a certain extent. 

Pearls themselves are not ageing but a long pearl necklace can make your style look more mature because it’s a more traditional way of wearing pearls. Pearls are used in a variety of different types of accessories however, and there are many ways to wear them that look modern and youthful. Pearls, if worn correctly, can compliment different styles and age groups because they’re so associated with timeless style and femininity.

Related: How to refine your personal style
ways to wear pearls without looking old fashioned rihanna wearing long pearl necklace
ways to wear pearls without looking old fashioned zendaya pearl infused gown

If you love your strings of pearls however, then don’t let the association with a more mature style stop you from wearing them. A mature style does not automatically mean “old-fashioned” and your personal style is an expression of who you are and if you like a certain type of jewelry then there is nothing that should stop you wearing what you want. A pearl necklace can look very elegant and demure when paired with the right outfit and will not make you look older than if you were not wearing it.

How to wear pearls without looking old-fashioned

As we’ve seen on the runway, long strings of pearls are making a comeback in 2022 which should reassure you that your pearls will never truly go out of fashion. You may however want to use this article to explore some new, fun ways to incorporate them into your style so that you can wear pearls all year round, beyond what the fashion trends dictate. Below are some of the best ways to wear pearls in a timeless way that’s not old-fashioned or outdated.

Belt up

Belts are a gorgeous way to highlight the waistline or add a beautiful statement piece to your outfit. It’s edgy enough to get away with a lot and can look great with a lot of different styles.

ways to wear pearls without looking old fashioned woman wearing modern pearl belt
ways to wear pearls without looking old fashioned young woman wearing modern pearl belt

Pearl collar

Pearl collars are a nice way to tone down the formalness of wearing pearls around the neck line while looking clean and contemporary at the same time. 

ways to wear pearls without looking old fashioned young woman wearing modern pearl collar shirt
ways to wear pearls without looking old fashioned young woman wearing modern pearl collar sweater

With a sparkle

When choosing pearl jewelry, try to find one that combines a diamond or bright gemstone as well. This will add a bit more sparkle to the piece and help it to look like a modern pearl rather than an ancient one.

ways to wear pearls without looking old fashioned young meghan markle wearing modern pearl diamond earrings
ways to wear pearls without looking old fashioned young woman wearing modern pearl diamond necklace

Footwear

Pearl embellished footwear is such a fun way to incorporate more pearls into your outfits. It’s a contemporary and summery style that looks great on anyone and will help to draw attention to your beautiful pedicure. 

ways to wear pearls without looking old fashioned young woman wearing modern pearl high heels
ways to wear pearls without looking old fashioned young woman wearing modern pearl sandals

Sleeked back or messy bun

This is a modern way to wear a simple pearl earring with both masculine and sophisticated outfits as well as a more feminine soft look. You can sleek your hair back in a tight bun, leave it a bit loose and romantic or even just pulled back over one ear. This is such a timeless way to wear pearls that will always look beautiful no matter what your age. 

ways to wear pearls without looking old fashioned messy hair bun tied back modern pearl earring look
ways to wear pearls without looking old fashioned young black woman pulled back hair modern pearl earring

Unusual places

Try to find uncommon ways to incorporate pearls into your outfits. This can be in the shoulder straps of your tops and dresses, your eyewear, headwear or even a beautiful anklet. 

ways to wear pearls without looking old fashioned in unusual places back dress strings
ways to wear pearls without looking old fashioned unusual places modern pearl eyewear

Pearl gilets

This one is for the statement piece lovers. A pearl gilet or vest that’s worn over another shirt or on its own is actually a super sexy way to wear pearls in abundance! If you’re a true pearl fan then this one might be a good one for you to try.

ways to wear pearls without looking old fashioned modern pearl beaded top vest
ways to wear pearls without looking old fashioned modern pearl beaded top gilet vest

Clutch your pearls

Every woman should have at least one structured clutch purse that is adorned with pearls. Champagne, ivory or rose, it doesn’t matter. It’s such an elegant statement that adds the perfect touch of glam to even the most minimal and simple outfits. 

ways to wear pearls without looking old fashioned modern pearl handbag
ways to wear pearls without looking old fashioned modern clutch handbag purse

Creative drop

If you’re a pearl earring lover like me, then you can try to mix things up a bit and branch out to find more modern and creative earrings that take pearls to the next level. I’ve noticed that the most creative styles almost always have a drop to them and can come in minimal paired-back designs or more intricate and elaborate pieces. 

ways to wear pearls without looking old fashioned young black woman wearing modern long pearl earrings
ways to wear pearls without looking old fashioned young woman wearing modern long pearl earrings

Miniature Minimal Multiple

Minimalism in jewelry is just like contemporary interior design, it’s not lazy or timid, it’s intentional and balanced. Use different size pearls, and different amounts of layers to balance multiple pearl pieces without looking overdone or too traditional. 

ways to wear pearls without looking old fashioned small pearls minimal necklace
ways to wear pearls without looking old fashioned small pearls minimal necklace layers

Contemporary Vintage Glam

One of my favorites contemporary ways to wear pearls is to embrace the vintage glam that pearls became famous for. This is not an everyday look, its a more glamourous evening wear look but it’s such a timeless classic that looks stunning. The three basic elements are a black ensemble, lots of ivory pearls and a bold red lip.

ways to wear pearls without looking old fashioned vintage chic contemporary glam
ways to wear pearls without looking old fashioned rihanna pearl necklace glam

Hair accessories

A cute, youthful and feminine way to get into pearls if you’re worried about them making you look older, is to wear them as a hair accessory. They’re perfect for casual, everyday wear and look stunning on their own which makes it a great way to wear pearls for those who don’t wear that much jewelry.

ways to wear pearls without looking old fashioned young woman wearing pearl headband
ways to wear pearls without looking old fashioned young woman wearing pearl hair accessory

Perfect imperfections

Contemporary jewelry design is an art itself and there are some stunning new ways that jewelry makers are reinventing pearls. It’s no secret that gold compliments that warmth and luster of a pearl and hammered gold and organically shaped pearls are transforming pearl jewelry into something that’s really sculptural and distinct. If it is a trend then it’s a timeless one that will be in style for many years to come. 

ways to wear pearls without looking old fashioned hammered gold pearl earrings
ways to wear pearls without looking old fashioned organic natural shape pearl

Pearl clusters

Pearl clusters can be found on anything, from jewelry to footwear to headwear. They look so organic and intricate that they can easily conjure seaside and nautical vibes which makes them a great feature to have on many of your summer accessories. 

ways to wear pearls without looking old fashioned young woman wearing pearl cluster earring
ways to wear pearls without looking old fashioned young woman wearing pearl cluster necklace

Whether you’re looking for a way to modernize traditional long pearl necklaces or more contemporary ways to incorporate pearls into your wardrobe, I hope you have found this article helpful. I would love to see how you use this article to find some beautiful ways that you can wear pearls more often so please tag me on InstagramTiktok or Pinterest or you can or send me a message because I would love to see! 

About the author 

Mish has a Masters in Fine Art and she’s passionate about classical design, history and culture. She loves to analyze fashion and style through this lens to help people develop a personal style that’s authentic and tasteful.