How to Wear Dress Clips

Art Deco diamond and platinum dress clip.

There once was a time when every well-dressed woman owned dress clips. Movie stars of the 1920s and 1930s wore them in films and more importantly, dress clips were worn in real life. Dress clips remained stylish through the 1940s, but by the end of the decade the more traditional brooch had become the fashion darling.

So what exactly are dress clips? They are a pair of matching pins that were generally fastened to each side of the neckline of a dress. While you may find a single dress clip, they were most often found as pairs. The always innovative Louis Cartier is credited with developing and patenting the mechanism that allowed two dress clips to be combined as a brooch in 1927. This new backing added versatility to these jewels that were the epitome of chic, creating desire for this glamorous accessory that could now be worn as one clip, two clips or as one brooch. Vintage dress clips are an adaptable jewel that you can easily wear with today’s clothes. We’ve put together a few suggestions to help you style your dress clips in a modern way.

Wear Dress Clips on the Neckline

Art Deco diamond and platinum dress clip.

Dress clips, which are distinguished by the triangular shaped clasp on the back that had a spring mechanism, allowing it to fasten to the edge of a garment, were often worn on the straps of a dress or on the neckline. This classic approach to wearing dress clips is casually elegant in an off-hand sort of way when worn with a basic sleeveless top. You can position them on the sides of the neckline or choose to wear just one at the center of the neckline. If you have narrower straps on a top, wear the clips directly on the bottom of the strap.

Wear Dress Clips as a Brooch

Art Deco diamond and platinum dress clip.

Double dress clips come with a frame that allows the two dress clips to be connected to form a brooch. There are many ways to wear a brooch, one of the easiest is to follow the hollow of your throat straight down to your clothing and then pin the brooch. A double dress clip brooch takes a plain black sweater and makes it glamorous enough for an evening out at the fanciest restaurant in town. This was a fashion hack that women used in the 1940s during World War II when it was harder to buy new clothes because everything, including fabric, was rationed. Women used dress clips to turn an ordinary daytime outfit into a showstopping evening ensemble.

Wear Dress Clips on a Sleeve

Art Deco diamond and platinum dress clip.

One very cool way to wear dress clips is on the cuff of your sleeves. Dress clips are particularly good for sleeves because there are two of them and you can wear one on each sleeve. If you’re feeling more subdued, you can always wear just one clip on one sleeve, or go for all out sparkle and wear one on each sleeve. Be bold and wear your dress clips with prints; it’s especially fun paired with an animal pattern.

Wear Dress Clips on a Collar

Art Deco diamond and platinum dress clip.

If you’re heading out for a more casual event, but you want to add a little sparkle to your look, add dress clips to a jean jacket. You can wear one on each collar point, or wear them next to each other if they look better, which is exactly what happened when we were on set styling this image. The original plan was to place the clips on the collar points, once we added the dress clips they didn’t sit quite right, so we changed the plan and put the clips next to each other on the collar of the jean jacket. It’s always good to play around with your jewelry to get the best placement. Don’t be discouraged if you don’t get the clips placed correctly the first time, experiment with different ways of placing the clips until you find the placement that is exactly right for what you are wearing.

Wear Dress Clips on Shoes

Art Deco diamond and platinum dress clip.

When dress clips first came out in the 1920s they were worn head to toe. Dress clips were not only worn on clothes, but also on accessories. They were clipped on hats, handbags and even shoes, until shoe clips were introduced. If you want to instantly impress, take a pair of pumps, or other shoes and add dress clips to them. Wearing dress clips on your shoes is cool girl glam at its best, but it does come with a few caveats.

First, place the clips on your shoes. Put your shoes on. You may notice that the metal of the dress clips hits your toes in the wrong (uncomfortable) place. To remedy the situation, wrap your toes in band aids to cushion them from the metal.

The best time to wear dress clips on your shoes is at your wedding. If you’re the bride, dress clips will make your shoes fabulous and they’ll look great in wedding pictures and walking down the aisle. After that take them off and put them in a safe place so that when you start dancing they don’t fall off and get lost, or get damaged if someone accidently steps on your toes. You can also safely wear dress clips on your shoes during a gathering in your own home. If you decide to wear dress clips on your shoes to a party outside of your home, clip them on just before you walk into the event. Wear them while you’re sitting or not moving around too much. Under no circumstances should you walk through a grassy lawn, mud, snow or sand while wearing dress clips on your shoes.

Wear Dress Clips Any Way You Like

Art Deco diamond and platinum dress clip.

Dress clips are a vintage jewel that is just as easily worn today as they were when they were first introduced. Flappers and other fashionistas of the early 20th century wore their dress clips in a variety of ways from hats to shoes and everything in between and you can do the same thing. Take a look in your closet and you’ll find lots of inspiration for wearing your dress clips in different ways that will express your amazing style.

All images: French Art Deco diamond and platinum dress clip.

Authored by Amber Michelle