Today I was posting a photo of my niece and her best friend when they were around five years old on FB, in honor of their fifteenth birthday. I can’t fathom, for the life of me, how they got so much older, while I miraculously stayed the same age… That aside– the process of posting their pics took me back to memories of–parties and presents past. I couldn’t help thinking about how we start out wanting to be just like all our friends and then wind up wanting autonomy– how we learn throughout the years about what does and what doesn’t fit our personal styles.
In the beginning, there were princess parties with my niece Sammie wanting to be the southern beauty Belle with a bib necklace, Jasmine with the exotic jewels and Cinderella, who went from rags to riches, and basically piled on everything (a look my niece came to adore). There were Alice in Wonderland tea parties with over the top pieces: large floral cocktail rings, and animal motifs necklaces and earrings.
By the time she was six, we’d pile basket full of trendy, inexpensive, costume jewelry up at Claire’s. She’d hold up dangly earrings to her ears, pile power bead bracelets up her arm to her elbow and layer necklaces down her (THEN) tiny chest. She started emulated Amanda Byne in What a Girl Wants instead of Ariel in Little Mermaid .
Two years later I was called in to host her ‘jewelry birthday party’ and teach a group of eight year old girls how to create bracelets out of stretchy wire and all different kinds of colorful beads, charms and silver initials. Around this time, my niece started trying to separate her own style from her pack .”My favorite color is green now, but I like it mixed up with a bit of purple and blue, and I don’t want it too girly or matchy-matchy. I want it more bohemian,” she explained.
“Where did you learn these words?” I asked. “From you, of course,” she said.
When she got her ears pierced, she wants hoops and studs and frogs and moons and a variety of other motifs–all cute and age appropriate–and then, last year, soon after she had turned 14, she had told me that she had pierced two more holes in her cartilage. What did your mom say I asked. “She freaked. But dad calmed her down.” Luckily my brother was used to situations like this, since I came home at approximately the same age with two more holes in my left and one more in my right ear, pierced with a sewing needle and ice by some guy named Vinny.
Throughout the years she’s gone through the feminine right of passage: she has tried on the styles of her favorite pop stars and celebrities and traded friendship bracelets (that have come back into style) with her BFFs. She still doesn’t like anything “matchy, matchy,” or too overwhelming, preferring pieces that add to and compliment her look. She’s into mixing up tough and tender, has gotten the hang of goth girl goes feminine and rock and roll goes retro. Since she is still in high school, she will continue (for a while longer) to have a similar style as her friends, although many of the times she has her own take on what works best for her.
Recently she told me “Big funky rings, dangly earrings or multi studs for her multi holes, macrame and leather bracelets and long necklaces. ”
Although, she sounds and looks all grown up, (something I am getting a real charge from my younger brother as a dad, having to navigate )–she will always be the sparkly princess, the little girl in a tiara, dumping my jewelry box over on my bed and draping herself in layers of necklaces, piles of bracelets, with strands of Mardi Gras beads worn as royal sashes–the more glitz and twinkle the better– And I wish her the happiest of birthdays this year! I know that however she celebrates (she has not divulged this info just yet), that she will look beautiful in whatever she wears and always, in her ongoing development of her personal style.
For all of you who have daughters, nieces, friends and other family members…a few companies to try out for great gifts for teens: Dogeared who has every trend imaginable, Kacey K for well priced 14K gold, Katie Diamond for great pendants and stud earrings in real gemstones and vermeil and Kamofie’s new line of friendship bracelets on various colored leather.