“Ah, she cried. You look so cool…you always look so cool.”
– Daisy Buchanan, The Great Gatsby
Looking through a scrapbook of old family photos this weekend, I was reminded once again of why the 1920s and 1930s will always be the epitome of cool.
My favorite photograph in the book is this one (right).
My late grandmother, Catherine, poses with my grandfather’s car, parked somewhere in Denver’s City Park (we surmise) circa 1928 or 1929. Her size 4 heeled shoe rests on the running board and her hair is tucked under an utterly fashionable hat. I love everything about that shot, particularly how effortlessly and coolly beautiful my grandma looks.
(I find it puzzling that, according to semantics scholars, the word “cool” didn’t achieve its place in the vernacular until the 1940s, nearly two decades after F. Scott Fitzgerald penned his Jazz-age masterpiece in 1925.)
With my own style, I’ve dabbled in this era, its drop-waist dresses, buckled shoes and, most importantly, its gorgeous Art Deco and Art Nouveau jewelry. But try as I might, I will never accomplish the level of cool my grandmother marked with that moment. Or this one (left).
I’ve only been able to successfully incorporate the jewelry of this time period into my wardrobe. (Hats do not become me, and I eschew heeled shoes more often than not.)
Both lines are lovely, but I have personally favored Silver Crane, as it is all sterling silver (albeit more expensive) versus Parisienne’s use of plating. No matter which you choose, you’ll acquire a piece that is exquisitely and simultaneously timeless and dated.
I happened upon the Silver Crane Sterling line in 1997, in what was to become (and will forever remain) my favorite store of all time, Curiosities. (Go there and give Howard your money. You’ll thank me for it.)
The Holland-based line is expansive, ranging from the flowing lines of the aforementioned Art Nouveau style, popularized in the earlier part of the 20th century, to the bold shapes of classic Art Deco and even into styles of today. Whether intricately detailed or focused on clean lines, these pieces and the time-honored styles they help to preserve are something to be prized.
For my wedding in 2012, I accessorized with two of my favorite Silver Crane pieces and presented a third to my sister to wear as my matron of honor. The only other piece of jewelry I wore that day was the ring my paternal grandmother Virginia received on her nuptials in October 1936.
Our event paid quiet and subtle tribute to that golden age of fashion. (No headbands or spats to be found.) I’m so glad it did. Though I lost both of my grandmothers before that special day, I did my best to channel them.