How to wear a brooch, according to style experts

A small accent can turn a plain outfit into something effortless chic. Decorative jewelry like brooches, for example, can act as the ultimate functional accessory to upgrade any classic ensemble and make it très chic.

Shop TODAY talked to stylists about the accessory’s significance, along with the best ways to style a brooch for day or night.

What is a brooch?

For centuries, brooches have been worn as a practical approach to fastening clothes or as a symbolic accessory. The brooch “dates back to the Bronze Age where styles were invented for the practical reason of holding clothes together,” said footwear and accessories senior editor for WGSN, Jane Collins.

While a brooch can reference an ornament from a gilded era, these pin fasteners are more than just a fancy decorative piece. In fact, “brooches have a lot of symbolism going from royalty to the military and whether you had a higher rank,” added costume designer and stylist Jennifer Rade.

“In time, brooches became popular and decorative as they were a good tactic to add a dash of drama and personality to a woman’s outfit. Every era has a signature brooch: I must say my favorites were the lavish diamond Cartier Art Deco clips of the ’20s and the outlandish David Webb pieces of the ’80s,” emphasized personal stylist and wardrobe consultant Elysze Held.

Why are brooches popular?

The versatile fashion accessory has seen an increase in search interest over the last year, according to Google Trends. This accompanies the resurgence of vintage, retro-inspired looks in the fashion community.

“It’s also important to note that we are seeing the trend for brooches continue [to] align with emerging aesthetics. Pre-Fall ’22 presentations see styles accompany modern occasion styling and what we are classifying as ‘business casual’ looks, a comfort-first approach to smart workwear,” added Collins.

Whether you need to add some glamour to an outfit or need a quick update, brooches are also very versatile. “A brooch [pin] can change the look of a sweater, scarf and a jacket (or add a trio on the lapel works best if similar in size), and the silhouette of a dress or shirt, especially if [the] fabric is voluminous,” said Held.

From Chanel brooches to jewel-encrusted pieces, there are also numerous shapes to be found in the market. “Because brooches have such a historical background, there is an endless supply in the vintage world,” added Rade.

How to wear a brooch

According to Rade, a brooch can be worn in multiple ways. From fastening the side of a dress to making a ruched silhouette or adding a velvet fabric and adding it as a headpiece, brooches have infinite possibilities to accessorize an outfit.

“You can slide it into a piece of ribbon and make it into a choker; put it in front of a belt to alter the design; [or] you can also gather the fabric of a shirt for a more revealing cut,” said Rade.

In addition, a brooch serves to draw attention to a certain part of your outfit. “A brooch can give a favorite hat a whole new look, or be used to secure a scarf around your head. It can also be attached to a belt loop on a pair of pants to give something a little extra besides a belt. [Also], you can secure one to your favorite hairstyle instead of typical barrette,” shared Held.

Rade also likes adding brooches on the side of a boot, a blazer, jeans and even cashmere to secure it. “I would be thoughtful when it comes to accessorizing brooches. I wouldn’t do a big brooch and statement earrings,” said Rade.

Brooches vary by size, shape and price and can be found in many vintage shops (and also grandma’s jewelry box!). To make your search easier, we’ve compiled some modern and vintage choices for your accessory collection.

Stylish brooches to shop

Vintage Plant Leaf Brooches

Perfect for the plant lover in your life (or if you’re a plant mother yourself), this brooch is an essential piece for your accessory repertoire. The leaf brooch features some pearl detailing that can complement staples like blazers and sweaters.

Light in the Box Classic Leaf Elegant Vintage Brooch

Keep it minimalist with this timeless, small leaf brooch. Pin it to the lapel of your shirt, the pocket of your jeans or a scarf for a soft, elegant detail.

Dainty Gold Pearl Brooch Pin

This dainty accessory from Etsy is ideal for those that want to zhuzh up a neutral outfit. Wear it with a blazer for adornment or wear it during a special occasion.

Zara Sparkly Lizard Brooch

If your winter coats need more spark, add this lizard brooch to add some oomph. This wild accessory can be worn with prints and patterns for an elevated style.

Punk Wolf Head Long Chain Brooch

Turn your basic shirt into an elegant blouse with this chain brooch. This is a unisex style that can be worn on the lapels of a shirt or to the side of a pocket for a classy finish.

Crystal Bow Jewelry Clips

Give your shoes a touch of glam with these bow-shaped clips. Additionally, you can attach it to your purse or your jacket for a glamorous upgrade.

Anthropologie Embellished Grooved Flower Brooch

Build up your outfit with this gold flower brooch. Add it to your go-to winter hat for a Parisian look or pin it to your belt to turn it into a statement accessory.

Anne Klein Crystal Flying Butterflies Brooch

Give your outfit a luxury effect with this butterfly brooch featuring pink crystals. You can pin it to a piece of fabric and rock it as a trendsetting headpiece.

Pearl and Rhinestone Circle Brooches

Tap into the Pinterest-lauded pearlcore trend with this bestselling brooch that will definitely add pizzazz to your outfit. Redefine pearls with this small accessory and add it to a scarf or a white button shirt.

Anthropologie Chain Fringed Stone Brooch

This is a nod to the elegant brooches worn in the 1920s. Pin it to the collar of your shirt for a more dressed-up ensemble, or simply add it to your favorite sweater vest for a sophisticated vibe.

Banana Republic Cocktail Brooch

If you’re going for a wanderlust-inspired aesthetic, this brooch will accentuate whatever resortwear you’re rocking. This colorful brooch will add instant polish to your ensemble and turn some heads to boot.

Chico’s Cappuccino Faux Pearl Goldtone Bow Pin

For those wanting to jump in the grandmillennial trend, this gold brooch is a natural fit for your accessory collection. Add some elegance to your blouse with this ribbon-shaped pin with a Victorian-inspired design.

Vanessa’s Vintage Hattie Carnegie Gold and White Glass Pin

Give the upper of your shoes a vintage flair this starburst brooch, made with high-end materials like milky glass and resin.

Lele Sadoughi Sweetheart Oversized Crystal and Pearly Brooch

This bright pin from Lele Sadoughi features pearly acrylic teardrops and a heart-shaped crystal that adds femininity to your outfits.

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