I have sadly developed a new interest this year, one that, if taken to its logical conclusion, will end up costing me lots and lots of money. No, I haven't taken up designer drugs or overpriced yoga wear - I've started browsing online for jewelry.
I was never really a jewelry person. My friend Rachel is - she has a wall of bangles and barrettes, of feathered hairpieces and bauble necklaces. She buys from thrift stores and local boutiques, and has such an array of choices that she can, and will, create a look that is literally like something you might see in the pages of a magazine. Aside from her irrational attachment to the colour mustard, Rachel is one of my most stylish friends, and a lot what she does to finish her looks is all in the way she accessorizes.
I have my standard choices that affect my look from day to day, like my stretched-out earlobes that offer a peek at the landscape behind me, but are small enough not to scare the children. Those earrings give me an ever-so-slightly edgy look, which I forget about all the time because I've worn them for so long. When I worked at a bakery five years ago, I had to take them out for health and safety reasons - a ridiculous notion, because the earrings literally screwed into my earlobes. My bosses insisted, which definitely contributed to my general malaise at that job - that, and all the ambient flour, leading to a dryness level in the bake shop that led to nosebleeds.
Ahem. I digress. In high school, I had stretched ears, but my look was a lot more day-glo raver girl, a look that was, in hindsight, very stupid. I also dyed my hair pink and wore orange eyeshadow, so, like, you know - not a style icon, I was. Thank god I didn't wear a ton of jewelry, or I would have probably ended up looking like one of classmates, who wore a hemp necklace threaded with jawbreaker-sized wooden beads. (Let's just all agree right now that the intersection of late-1990s fashion trends and the reasoning power of a 16-year-girl's mind led to very bad decisions regarding accessories and leave it at that.)
I never really follow trends when it comes to jewelry, mostly because I can't afford to follow trends in jewelry. The upper style eschelon always seems to be suggesting that women dangle beads from their head or wear enormous hats, looks that work best for women who spend most of their time in front of cameras or donating money, and rotating between bangles and brooches and rings and all the others is damned expensive. For the plebes, most women only have a few pieces of fine jewelry throughout their lives - engagement rings, maybe a nice bracelet for an anniversary, or a gift to one's own self once the divorce is finalized.
So my new interest in jewelry is a little unsettling, because I just can't afford to love anything I see - it costs me in either heartbreak or cash, and neither is fun. There are a couple things baby investments I've made in the last couple months, like Catbird's dreamy little memory ring. (Catbird is my jewelry spirit animal - I covet so many of their little gems, because their jewelry combines subtlety and beauty in a way that a lot of modern designers skips.) I've got a little cache of bike-themed pendants, and friends and family spoil me with more. But I troll online for rings and pendants, and I'm not sure why.
I think part of it stems from being set up in life - I've got an apartment, a job, a closet full of not unstylish clothes, and so I'm not wanting for anything. At the same time, I can't afford the frivolities in life, so nice jewelry is out of the question. It becomes part of the window-shopping landscape - things that are theoretically in reach, but that actually purchasing them would make me very hungry indeed. They're the things that make life prettier, lovelier, but not necessarily worth the dip in quality of life they would cost me.
But maybe one day, I'll treat myself to a quail egg on a string and smile at myself in the mirror.