Inspired by Attire: Using Clothing to Inspire Jewelry Designs

Mar 26, 2008

Today's guest editor is Danielle Fox, editor of Stringing magazine and author of the new book, Simply Modern Jewelry. Danielle shares her tips for using clothing to inspire jewelry designs. Even if you are already perfectly accessorized, you might want to try this idea as a personal design challenge using a piece from someone else's closet or flipping through some fashion magazines or catalogs. Hmmm . . . Wonder what kind of jewelry a purple Hawaiian shirt, a pink 1980s prom dress, or pair of Doc Martens would inspire?--Michelle Mach, Beading Daily editor



Inspired by Attire

Danielle Fox

As the editor of Stringing magazine and an editor of Beadwork magazine, I’m often asked to “make this” or “make that.” Make a collage project (Beadwork feature). Make a project using these particular stones (Beadwork’s The Challenge column). Make a project with a nautical theme (Stringing project—assignment to self). While I pretty much enjoy making any kind of beaded project, these broad, basically limitless, assignments often leave me dumbstruck for hours—even days—after getting them. Yikes! Where do I begin? 

That’s why I love to design jewelry to accessorize clothing. Clothes give you parameters to work within--like color, style, neckline, motifs. All these details help narrow down design possibilities, a must for an indecisive person like me! That said, you won’t be surprised to learn that being inspired by attire is a topic I discuss in my new book, Simply Modern Jewelry. The project shown here, Golden Everglades, is my example of how a favorite dress determined the length, style, and color of a now-favorite necklace.

Preview Free Project:  Golden Everglades
One Week Only:  March 28-April 4, 2008
The preview period has ended.  You may now find instructions for this project in the book Simply Modern Jewelry by Danielle Fox.

Here’s the story: This green silk dress was purchased for no particular reason. I just liked it. I think the black-and-white polka-dot detailing sealed the deal. Or maybe it was the watercolor quality of the print. (I’ll spare you further insight into my shopping thought process--it is too dizzying!) Anyway, I knew right away that I wanted to make a necklace to wear with this dress--that I wanted to translate its beauty into another medium. A choker, maybe made of all black beads, might have looked nice with the V-neck, but I decided I wanted to create a long, chain-based necklace, something that filled the deep neckline and cascaded over it. I chose gold chain and findings because I thought they looked better than silver against the warm shades of green in the dress, and I used those shades of green to help pick out crystals--jet, emerald, apple green opaque, light azore champagne, and jonquil matte--the prettiest palette I think I’ve ever worked with. After a fair amount of wireworking, my necklace was complete and so was my outfit.

Perhaps you have a favorite dress, shirt, or jacket. I encourage you to use it to inspire an accessory. Just determine what attracted you so much to the clothing item (the mix of colors, the "flowiness," the pattern, etc.) and let that inform your jewelry design. If you need to go shopping to find a dress to practice this with, I give you my permission. Just don’t give your significant other my contact information, please! 




Meet Danielle Fox

Danielle Fox will be signing copies of her book at Bead Expo Portland on Friday, March 28, 2008 from 1-2 p.m. and Saturday, March 29, 2008 from 2-3 p.m.

If you have comments or questions for Danielle, please post them on the website. Thanks!




Beading Daily editor Michelle Mach will be at Bead Expo Portland this weekend. Stop by the Interweave booth Saturday morning (March 29) and say hello!   And even if you can't go to the show, be sure to check out the beading tips from the show's instructors.



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on May 19, 2008 2:18 PM

have done this out of frustration when my daughter couldnt find just the right thing for her formal dresses but (duh!) never thought of doing it for inspiration...i'm going to raid my closet now....cya and happy beading!

Comment by: T S | March 28, 2008

Love that dress! In my eye, the necklace looks perfect for it. I do this all the time. In fact, I have several pieces (necklaces, bracelets, earrings) to go with an outfit. By that I mean (2) different red necklaces to go with my black and red outfit, etc. So, when you feel like you have been wearing the same old thing, just change your jewelry, it looks different and feels different!. I also get inspiration from clothing, especially teenagers. They seen to mix up some really unusual colors, but it looks good. Before I make a piece of jewelry, I usually think, what will I be able to wear this with? Have fun everyone!

Comment by: Noreen N | March 28, 2008

What a lovely necklace! I can see it with that great dress, too. It would certainly perk up everyone's good old standby little black dresses nicely, too. (Don't we all have at least one?)

Sometimes, I'd like to see necklaces displayed on a person in magazines like Stringing, even in an inset, just to see the length, drape, and way it fits with a neckline. Anyone else agree?

Comment by: Jan G | March 28, 2008

Jan G, yes, I do agree it would be nice sometimes to see the piece of jewelry displayed on a person with a piece of clothing. Don't you just love Stringing magazine? Its the best! Of course, I get all kinds of beading magazines, but that is my favorite.

Comment by: Noreen N | March 29, 2008

I like the idea, but the way you have photographed the necklace makes it really hard to see what the necklace looks like. The little boxes or baskets obscure the details. Background is always a problem when photographing our work . . .

Comment by: Nedra F | March 29, 2008

I was on vacation and missed the v-necklace on wk. 3/21 - thru 3/28. Anyway to get it now.

Comment by: sue k | March 29, 2008

I do this all the time! I have co-workers, friends, and family alwys asking me to make them an accessory in a particular color for a new outfit. Being able to make your own jewelry and put your style to it is so much fun and then have other's admire your handiwork is awesome!

Comment by: Tammy C | March 31, 2008

i also think being a jewelry designer u should dress the part always look a litle more chic even when shopping for groceries u NEVER know who is watching u for maybe that next party or wants to comment on what a great peice of jewelry u have on has happened to me many times. just my 2 cents.

Comment by: libby k | April 4, 2008