Beaded Bracelets and the Art of Aging (Un)Gracefully

Feb 12, 2008

Today contributing editor Jean Campbell tells us how to age gracefully (or not) with the help of that ancient beauty secret--beaded bracelets.  Even though I'm still in the single bracelet phase of life, I'm happy to know that I can look forward to even more beads in my future! --Michelle Mach, Beading Daily editor 

Knock Knock

Do you remember those old lotion commercials that said something like "Because you don’t want to age gracefully"?

Yes, that is my wrist under all those bracelets! 

I remember being really offended by that. Granted, I was in my twenties, with a tight little body and boobs above my beltline. So aging gracefully seemed like something I could do. The dignified thing.

Then I aged. And as I have done so, I see that I haven’t done it as gracefully as I imagined. I haven’t let myself go gray. I spackle my crow’s feet smooth. I strap on an underwire and sometimes Spanks. And I own a baby-doll top for goodness sakes! My twenties were a lifetime ago, but I seem to be kicking and screaming to get back there.

Does any of this sound familiar? If so, welcome to the psychotic little club. If not, well, you’re either a forty-plus woman who’s more balanced and mature than I certainly am, or you’re young enough to not care how important it is to do your Kegel exercises.

It may be a bit cliché (especially on this website), but one of the things I have to keep me young is beading. I mean it. Yeah, I need magnifiers and bright lights to bead now, but it keeps my mind sharp (I think?) and makes me slow down.

Because I’ve been beading for so long I’ve got a pretty big jewelry box, and I’ve been mining it more often lately. I’ve taken on an eccentricity—wearing bracelets. And I don’t just mean one tasteful bracelet to complement an outfit, as I would have done twenty years ago. Now I wear two or more on one arm, whether I’m wearing my low-rise jeans and a tank top (Mom? Are you really going out like that?) or sweats.

Bracelets kind of whip around while you’re doing life, like mixing up oatmeal or hauling hockey bags or wildly gesticulating as you gossip about your neighbors (three things I did today). For some reason all that glinting and whipping and sparkle reminds me of my youth (disco?). And I figure the more reminders the merrier—thus the proliferation at my wrist. So yeah, another symptom my knock-knock-who’s-there-Queenada-Queena Denial, but it’s a nice one. Better than girdles, that’s for sure!

Tips on Wearing Multiple Bracelets

  • Wear bracelets that have the same general feel. Jumbly tumbly or straight and narrow.  
  • You can easily mix colorways but do it so the colors complement each other.  
  • Chain is still really fashionable, as is anything that’s primarily metal. So throw in at least one bracelet that has a bunch of metal on it. It also looks great to wear primarily chain or metal bracelets and then add one colorful bracelet to the mix.  
  • Follow the lead of your outfit but don’t get too hung up on being matchy, matchy. That’s not what this is about. 


Jean Campbell is the contributing editor of Beading Daily and writes about beading and life every Wednesday.   If you have comments or questions for Jean, please post them on the website.

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LynneD@16 wrote
on Feb 13, 2008 2:11 PM
Jean - you are an aboslute hoot! I'm so glad you've been added to the Beading Daily family of writers!
JaimeG wrote
on Feb 13, 2008 2:21 PM
Welcome back Jean! It's so great to hear your voice again. I missed you.
Elizabeth wrote
on Feb 13, 2008 2:26 PM
I haven't laughed so hard since I started reading Beading Daily! I'm also glad you have been added the the BD family! We're about the same age and I'm trying to learn beading. Stringing bracelets and necklaces is what I've learned so far. I look forward to your next post! :)
AlevA wrote
on Feb 13, 2008 2:29 PM
I love reading your pieces Jean. You have a very healthy sense of humor. Keep up beading _and_ writing.
LindaB@226 wrote
on Feb 13, 2008 2:29 PM
Amen Sister!! I'm way ahead of you on the aging thing, but it's quite a trick to do it as gracefully as we would like.
SandiO3 wrote
on Feb 13, 2008 2:33 PM
I have looked into beading as my passion of choice. I LOL reading Jean's comments and now I won't let magnifiers or bright lights take away from the anticipated enjoyment.
Sandi O.
Coley J wrote
on Feb 13, 2008 2:34 PM
That's awesome! I thought I was the only one who felt more youthful (...or, fun? I'm only 23) when I wear bracelets. I love the feeling, kind of like when I just got my nails done. Bracelets have this way of making a day brighter and way more fun and less stressful for me. :) Thank you!
Mrswtownsend wrote
on Feb 13, 2008 2:37 PM
Jean, your article had me rolling in the aisles! I love your sense of humor! I am looking forward to reading more from you in future newsletters!
Nedale67 wrote
on Feb 13, 2008 2:49 PM
Jean!! We all missed you lots and are so happy to hear from you!!!!!!!!!!! Please keep writing, let us know where to look for more of your writing! Nancy D
LesaG wrote
on Feb 13, 2008 2:55 PM
Today is my daughter's 23rd birthday and while we celebrate (and yes, I pat myself on the back that I had a hand in this wonderful person's existance)I can't help but wonder where the years went. Your post hit the spot! Loved it!!
NancyB@5598 wrote
on Feb 13, 2008 3:00 PM
Hi Jean, You forgot the laser treatments for sun damage, permanent make-up and massage. All things needed to go down a kickin and a screamin. What's wrong with that? at 64 I've got another 20 years or so. The beading just keep me sane.
Glad your voice is being heard again. Love, Nancy B.
LindaP@117 wrote
on Feb 13, 2008 3:03 PM
Jean - There is one advantage to age and it's accompanying arthritis. When I'm beading and have something else I should be doing - I just tell myself that beading is therapy for my arthritic hands and mental therapy for my aging brain.
FlorenceF@4 wrote
on Feb 13, 2008 3:05 PM
Amen! And just in time for me! I needed the kick in the pants to help me remember that I am as young as I feel...when I go out today, I will wear lots of bracelets instead of just the one that 'matches.'
Happy Beading, Florence
on Feb 13, 2008 3:09 PM
Hey Jean,
Don't feel too bad about getting old, God's word says that gray hairs are a sign of wisdom! Wow! (I'm not one to talk though, I'm only 16!)
Stay young at heart, 'cause all of us "new beaders" love hearing from you!
Have an awesome day! ~ KJ Helgesen
EvelynW@8 wrote
on Feb 13, 2008 3:18 PM

I am laughing so hard that I can hardly type my comments. I have spents $$$ on beads, etc. but I can never finish anything because nothing ever looks good enough. I keep tearing things apart. Any suggestions?
KellyH@41 wrote
on Feb 13, 2008 3:18 PM

I have to say that I'm a little offended by your comments. My 9 year old loves beading and she reads as much information about the subject as possible. Thanks to your article, I have the priviledge of explaining Kegel exercises to her. Please be mindful of your younger readers in the future.
CynthiaD@21 wrote
on Feb 13, 2008 3:31 PM
I love many, many bracelets stacked on my wrist. Why? Well, at least my wrist is still the same size I was when I was 20 and the jangle and motion make me feel a bit less responsible, just like you, when I am doing all those tasks that seemed so far away when I was young...
DebraS@38 wrote
on Feb 13, 2008 3:32 PM
Just joined Beading Daily and I am right were you are in life. I just started a year ago beading and I am addicted. Even though I use magnifying glasses and bright lights. But it does slow you down and relaxes me.
Look forward to more Beading Daily.
jf2033 wrote
on Feb 13, 2008 3:41 PM
YEAHHHHH Jean. You are my HERO!!!! I find that I have thought the same thoughts you have (earlier of course because I am OLDER than you) but YOU GO GIRL. It is really so much fun not being tied to all those RULES of yesterday. Thanks for making my day, Jeanne
SharonA@18 wrote
on Feb 13, 2008 3:42 PM

I'm way ahead of you on the age scale, but I find myself enjoying "young" stuff lots more than I did when I was the right age for it. I have time and money now - didn't then. Anyone who can't appreciate my fun, well, phooey on them. Loved your article and have always loved your work. Thanks for the laugh.

Timaree wrote
on Feb 13, 2008 3:44 PM
This was so right on for all of us "at a certain age". Had my good laugh for the day!
Nancyzl wrote
on Feb 13, 2008 4:19 PM
Your comments hit the spot!
Thanks so much for making me laugh!! Nancy in NJ
DonnaB@97 wrote
on Feb 13, 2008 4:25 PM
Thanks for the laughs!

I love to make and wear bracelets - after all, when you wear a bracelet, you are emphasizing one of the smallest parts of your body.

And I hope people notice my bracelets instead of my age spots. :-)
JoyceP@20 wrote
on Feb 13, 2008 4:37 PM
You are definitely a breath of fresh air!! It's way better to laugh and enjoy life than the alternative! Keep up the humor and disregard any negatives that come your way.
BarbaraM@143 wrote
on Feb 13, 2008 4:43 PM
I love your thoughts on bracelets and aging. As a 50+ "young" woman, I'm not concerned with what's in, but I do love and wear silver bracelets - 5 on one wrist and 6 on the other (and they don't come off!) Now I'm making beaded ones to wear with them - love the look! B from West Texas
franiscranny wrote
on Feb 13, 2008 5:42 PM
Wow Jean, an article I can finally sink my teeth into. I read every word and I can relate! Thx,for the great lift and I don't mean face. I'm trying to age gracefully too and beading seems to appeal to everyone in my circle from the grandaughters to the co-workers from 30-70.
PamelaM@45 wrote
on Feb 13, 2008 6:58 PM
Jean- I laughed reading your article today, because I too, have found myself wearing multiple bracelets! Having just turned
"50", I'm trying to keep myself FEELING and THINKING younger,while I try to age gracefully!!! Jewelry was not a luxury afforded to me growing up, so I'm trying to make up for it now!!(I've been making Jewlery for 2 years, and I LOVE IT!) Thank-you for the chuckle!
AllegraC2 wrote
on Feb 13, 2008 8:46 PM
Hahaha, I guess I am guilty of being one of "those people" who are too young to care about Kegel exercises. I am 22, but I am already hooked on beading! You're hilarious by the way. Your kids are very fortunate to have a "cool mom".
MarshaK@12 wrote
on Feb 13, 2008 9:57 PM
hey bracelets are good--my six year old grandsons drew a picture of a stick figure with lots of circles on each arm. Surprise--grandma and her bracelets. Go for the jingle and be memorable.
Sally322 wrote
on Feb 13, 2008 11:09 PM
Oh good gawd, Kelly H....somebody's always gotta rain on the parade! If you're going to allow a child to be on internet sites that are not geared toward children, she's going to read a lot worse than that. Jean keep the humor coming and remain being mindful of your largest target audience---adult subscribers. Sally S.
on Feb 13, 2008 11:14 PM
As an over-40 member, I had a wonderful belly laugh over todays message from Jean! I am ready to go dig out all my bracelets and start to layer them...
CharC@3 wrote
on Feb 13, 2008 11:40 PM
I had to check to make sure I was actually reading about beading when I found myself laughing hysterically at your article Jean! How I can relate! Gravity is the pits! But hey, I've seen your picture, and honey, I would trade with you in a second! Please keep the humor coming!
on Feb 14, 2008 1:27 AM
Loved the aging ungracefully. the older I get,the more into funky jewellry I am. Makes a great statement....
Right on, sister!

Cheryl Petro wrote
on Feb 14, 2008 7:14 AM
I am looking for a flat cellini bracelet pattern with beaded toggle. Cheryl Petro
HelenE@33 wrote
on Feb 14, 2008 7:15 AM
Dear Jean, Looking at your picture I find it hard to believe that you wrote this article about aging gracefully or any way. You look like you could wear any kind of jeans and look great! But then I know that pictures CAN be deceiving at times. However, I so agree with all the things you said although I am 60+ now. I do wear a LOT more jewelry than I ever did 30 years ago but I sure love it now! The more the better. I love this site and keep up the good work. Helen Elliott
EleanorJ@8 wrote
on Feb 14, 2008 7:25 AM
Living in the UK so 5-7 ahead of you I have to wait until the next day for each of my BD newsletters. Jean, I'm a FIFTY year old beader who vowed at my last birthday to grow old disgracefully and wear more of my own bling. Bracelets especially. I'm going to LOVE Thursdays from now on!
ColleenK@15 wrote
on Feb 14, 2008 7:54 AM
Amen!! Today's post about Aging (Un)Gracefully was absoutely the best way to start my day as it described me perfectly and gave me such a chuckle. Thanks.
Lu-AnneA wrote
on Feb 14, 2008 8:01 AM
Jean - I so enjoyed reading you piece. I have been wearing multiple bracelets (mine are all silver and some have a heart theme going on) for quite a while but in earnest (I have 7 on everyday). After my mother passed away a year ago, I started wearing hers all the time and it has made me feel connected to her in a small way. Mine give me a lot of pleasure and I love being different in this way. I get lots of comments - all positive - and I do add more when I go out. I guess it does make me feel younger but that's not the main reason. I just love bracelets! Thanks for sharing Jean! Lu-Anne
Adams, Toronto Ontario Canada
LuciaT@3 wrote
on Feb 14, 2008 9:36 AM
have just joined and am now trying to rip myself away from one of the best everything for the the new beader as well as an "OLD" one,Jean...actually i think i'll go back for just a little more and then really should think about.....oh ok...beading!...lucia
TonyaP@3 wrote
on Feb 14, 2008 9:44 AM
Jean, you and your article are GREAT! I've been beading for about 4 months now and I feel addicted to it!! I love beading but I feel I should be selling and making some money from it. But how?? Any sugestions??
Samantha E wrote
on Feb 14, 2008 10:49 AM
dear jean love your column, very funny, I will be 38 this year and I have noticed already that I want to wear much more jewellery and much bolder stuff too!!!! And I'm with Sally S on the content of your column,no offence to the kiddies, but this site is aimed at adult subscribers!!!!
Keep it coming Jean its a brilliant laugh, and by the way, I am English and I have not heard of Kegel exercises but I am guessing that sneezing and coughing may be a problem or laughing very hard!!!
RhondaK@12 wrote
on Feb 14, 2008 12:11 PM
Dear Jean, It's eerie how your thoughts echo mine! I love beading and I love wearing bracelets (and I'm above the age of 40!). I got on a spiral bracelet craze about a year ago, and I've made all kinds of colors and sizes. I mix and match them with outfits and also wear my Hawaiian bracelets with them.
Katt4321 wrote
on Feb 14, 2008 12:40 PM
dear Jean, I am just as crazy about wearing my bracelets too. Sometimes they are a great ice breaker about making jewelry and finding a sale. So I usually wear two or three.
ElisaB@5 wrote
on Feb 14, 2008 3:44 PM
Isn't it just hateful to want act on a moment of creative inspiration and DARN IT...Can't find my GLASSES! I am with you! Let's go kicking and screaming and live long enough to annoy our kids (who will laugh at (with?!!) us anyway! The one who dies with the most beads wins!!!
AllegraC2 wrote
on Feb 14, 2008 9:37 PM
I agree with Samatha E and Sally S, and I am a young adult, so if I agree then Jean, you know you didn't do any harm with your post. For goodness sakes, Kelly H, you could have lied about what Kegel exercises are to your 9-year-old. And anyways, wikipedia is just another click away for her with much more vivid descriptions than what is found in Jean's post.
RoxD wrote
on Feb 14, 2008 9:43 PM
You made me laugh hard and feel better about being part of the psycho club myself. I've reinvented a bracelet style I call arm kandy and I love them. They look like three or four bracelets but sneaky, sneaky, one long strand on memory wire AND you can get them on and off with one hand!
SusanH@70 wrote
on Feb 14, 2008 10:37 PM
Does anyone have any patterns for shawl pins? I would like to make pins to match my shawls. ANY help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks & God Bless
AllegraC2 wrote
on Feb 15, 2008 12:44 AM
I just found a bead in my umbrella.... make what you will of that one! lol
Arachne54 wrote
on Feb 15, 2008 10:47 AM
This editorial was so incredibly timely! This past Monday, Feb. 11, was my 60th birthday. I know at a gut level that I got here by not dying before this, but I still don't understand it. I wear bracelets I've made every day but, starting tomorrow, I'm going to give them company. No more standing at jewelry box and agonizing over which to wear. I just might wear them all...and purple, too. Thanks, Jean!

Kate G
RuthG@32 wrote
on Feb 15, 2008 11:29 AM
Dear Jean, I wondered why I was wearing so many bracelets. I had to apply for my Medicare card this week. I tried to tell them I really wasn't that old but they wouldn't listen. I shall wear more bracelets tomorrow. And if I can't lift my arms so be it.
Viviebeads wrote
on Feb 16, 2008 2:37 PM
This is absolutely hilarious, I just love my beading daily email. I look fwd to them because I always have something entertaining to read, this one really hit the mark!

Ungracefully laughing out loud,
Annita - VivieBeads
tinakstep wrote
on Feb 20, 2008 12:20 PM
Still laughing over this one so forgive my bad spelling. Typing with happy tears in my eyes! Keep the humor coming and as always ladies, monitor content BEFORE your kiddo go surfing. I agree, btw, wear it all and wear it proudly. I am especially fond of buttons on most of my bracelets and have also gotten into throwing them all on an antique plate at the end of the day...then the next day fun combos will spring up as if out of nowhere! PAX and keep laughing wile you bead...only the work that brings us joy is worth the time.
Jcheek wrote
on Feb 20, 2008 8:45 PM
I had to laugh out loud at the "many bracelet" theory...I've been doing it for years out of defiance! I'm 54 years young and just getting into doing what I want without caring much about what anyone thinks about it...including loading up my left arm with lots of wonderful bracelets I make. I jingle when I walk, and love it. Thanks for the bonding moment.

Jane Cheek
Prescott, Arizona
KrisH@12 wrote
on Mar 4, 2008 8:40 PM
I'm 55 & only own 3 bracelets = guess I'll make some - I'm catcing up on old e-mails - I needed this today - to the lady who keeps ripping them out - keep trying - and the other re kegels - well she's gotta learn some way - may as well be from a great place and person (this place & mom)
Jean - loved the article - thank you