In this age of Marie Kondo and the “less is more” folks, how does one make a “capsule wardrobe” less boring? Accessories are the key to making the same clothes look less like a uniform. This can be especially important when traveling.

Midlife women also tend to disappear into the background. A number of accessories can help draw attention to our faces (and words). Some image advisers push scarves, others earrings. Today we will examine the brooch, also known as a pin. The most famous advocate of this piece of jewelry has to be Madeline Albright. Not only was she our first woman Secretary of State (so she traveled a lot), but her pin collection became famous, spawning a museum exhibition and book!

Still a fun read a decade after its publication.

At first, she acquired pins because she liked them. Then she received them as gifts. Unlike other forms of jewelry, her pins were generally affordable. She also used them to send messages. Iraq meetings called for snakes, symbolizing Saddam Hussein. Festive days could be marked with symbols of the country and other Americana. A variety of insects and animals crawl, swim, and trot through the collection.

When she tried to skip the brooch, people wondered what that meant. Was something wrong? Some of her suits have so many piercings that she must strategically consider how to hide them with the pin of the day.

Despite the stories and pictures, my favorite quote in the book comes early on from an unnamed friend in New York City: “The only real difference between a human being and other mammals is our ability to accessorize. “The only real difference between a human being and other mammals is our ability to accessorize.”

Amen to that.


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