Fashion and The History of Earrings

The use of earrings as a fashion statement has been around since the early Middle Ages – with both men and women. Earrings were also worn in different cultures. The piercing of ears could be considered one of the oldest known forms of body modification. Many museums have on display earrings from archeological digs from as early of time as the Persian Empire. Other ways the history of earrings are determined is through art and literature.

With art, it is shown that in Western Europe, earrings went out of style temporarily and then came back in the Late Middle Ages. The appearance of earrings in a piece of art made a statement about the character, showing that they were not a part of the norm. That is, maybe the person depicted was from another culture such as East Africa. Earrings therefore were considered exotic.

Earrings have also been worn in many ways by people throughout the ages.

Some have pierced just their earlobe while others have preferred clip-ons.

For sailors, piercing the earlobe was preferred. An earring was a symbol that one had sailed around the world or had crossed the equator. Tales also state that sailors wore gold earrings in payment for a proper burial in the event that they might drown at sea. If their bodies were to wash up on shore, it was hoped the earring would serve as payment for their proper Christian burial.

In modern culture, pierced ears in the United States became quite popular in the early 1900s. This trend shifted until the 60s to clip-on earrings and non-piercings. Clip-ons from this era were typically large and ornamental.

By the late 1960s, when piercings came back, it was mostly through the hippy and gay communities. Piercings were done at home. Teenage girls would pierce each other's ears at slumber parties with the use of ice, a needle and a cork.

Then came the punk rock culture and the use of safety pins and multiple piercings. This trend carried throughout the 80s when many popular male musicians had piercings. When professional athletes also began to pierce, especially men, one saw that earrings were for both sexes without a presumption of one's sexuality.

With men getting their ears pierced, women began opting for multiple piercings. Women began wearing a second set of earrings, ear cuffs, and then began opting for cartilage piercing.

Today there are numerous types of piercings one can opt for. They include the tragus piercing, antitragus piercing, rook piercing, industrial piercing, helix piercing, orbital piercing, daith piercing, and conch piercing. There is also earlobe stretching.

With all of these piercings, came a variety of earrings one could purchase. Earring varieties include:

* The Hoop – This is the most ancient of styles. Hoop earrings were wore by the Romans. A hoop threads over the ear and hangs from just inside the ear, above where ears are pierced. Mobiles or other dangles can be hung from the hoop to create a variety of styles. We also think of the hoop as large hoop shaped earrings.
* Clip-On – The clip closes around the earlobe using mechanical pressure.
* Chandelier – This earring has multi-level branches that hang down from the earring base.
* Drop – These earrings are styled with one larger gemstone with other shapes or charms hanging from the earring base. The earring hangs in a straight line from base to end.
* Stud – These earrings are called stud or post but are quite simple. One round gemstone such as a diamond are put through the ear with a back holding them on.

Related Fashion History Articles