Winter is stubborn about going away this year, but the show must go on for bridal and prom—and that’s good news for fashion businesses because these markets provide relief from post-Christmas lulls. The retail fashion industry counts on bridal and prom to boost sales every spring. Fortunately much of the wholesale bridal and prom jewelry that fills their showcases, appeals to both markets.
BRIDAL AND PROM JEWELRY MARKETS ARE HUGE
The mushrooming size of prom spending caught national attention last year when the average spending broke the thousand dollar mark—a 34% increase in a single year. Most of this spending was with small business and mostly local businesses. The article in USA Today breaks it down by average spent on each item.
The number of students attending prom coast to coast is not easy to find, but there are about 4 million 12th grade students in the US and slightly less than half are girls. In addition, some schools have junior proms. Add these up and it’s easy to see the impact this can have on small business.
As helpful as this is for small business, bridal business dwarfs it. Census figures for 2009 show over 2 million weddings and the Wedding Industry Statistics released by The Knot reports average cost at 27 thousand not counting the honeymoon. This is the kind of business that is important for the survival of small businesses. We need to be ready to fill their needs with the bridal and prom jewelry and accessories to suit their tastes.
RHINESTONE BRIDAL JEWELRY
When brides choose rhinestone necklace sets for wedding day jewelry, the choice is usually delicate designs. Most prefer simplicity—jewelry that is understated. Nothing too dramatic because the choice will be recorded in the wedding album for all future generations. Glancing through a bridal magazine, you see very little of this look, but still this is what the bridal shops are buying over and over. This is what is selling.
When we talk about bridal and prom jewelry overlapping, this look that brides-to-be want is exactly the look prom girls also want when they choose necklace sets to accessorize the dress. They love simplicity—Y necklaces, delicate V necklaces, small cascades, and single or double line chokers. Our customers catering to the prom market concentrate on these wholesale rhinestone sets the most. These delicate sets with clear rhinestones in silver plated settings are timeless. Every season, they remain number one.
BRACELETS AND EARRINGS WITH NO NECKLACE
Bridal magazines are showing another look that is popular—dramatic earrings and bracelets without a necklace. When prom girls want to accessorize without a necklace, the preference suddenly changes from delicate to dramatic—bold earrings and wide bracelets. Especially popular this year for prom is bracelet earring combinations in iridescent rhinestones or crystals.
Both rhinestone jewelry and crystal jewelry have the bold earrings and bracelets with iridescent stones. Rhinestone has a finer uniform style using rhinestone chain. Crystal has glued in or prong set stones that utilize a variety of sizes and shapes.
This choice in accessories is not only popular as prom jewelry, but is also gracing the pages of bridal magazines. As bridal jewelry, clear rhinestones and crystals are still preferred over iridescent, but dramatic combination is selling when brides-to-be choose to accessorize without a necklace.
FAUX PEARL JEWELRY
Nothing matches pearl for elegance. While exceptional for bridal jewelry, faux pearl is seldom used for prom jewelry. So far, the crystal and rhinestone jewelry covered overlap for prom and bridal. Faux pearl jewelry is not limited to bridal even though it seldom accessorizes prom. This pearl jewelry fills needs accessorizing a nice suit or dress for church, luncheons, and teas.
But as bridal jewelry, it ranks near rhinestone in popularity as either sets or earring/bracelet combinations. Pearl has different colors with white and ivory most popular because they match the white and ivory gowns. Plating for white pearl is usually silver and off-white or ivory usually have gold plating.
Bridal and prom jewelry are needed items, rather than jewelry that can postpone until later. They serve more than one market so all your eggs are not in one basket. Finally, they are timeless so these classic designs will not be out of fashion a few months from now. Next blog will continue with prom and bridal accessories.
This may seem a little off target for a fashion jewelry and accessory blog, but part of our theme is New Orleans and this story is as New Orleans as red beans and rice. Today, June 19, is the feast of St. Joseph and something very unique happens in New Orleans for this day—St. Joseph Day altars.
If you are not familiar with New Orleans and its culture, you probably have no idea what I am talking about. The story goes back to the Renaissance and came to America with the Sicilian immigrants. A famine struck Sicily during the Renaissance and the people faced starvation. They prayed to their country’s Patron Saint, St. Joseph, for relief from the drought Rains came, the fava bean crop was saved, starvation was averted, and a banquet of thanksgiving was offered. This began a tradition of going to St. Joseph for intercession and showing appreciation with a St. Joseph Day altar.
When Sicilians came to America, many settled in New Orleans and brought the tradition of St. Joseph Day altars with them. The book, Gumbo Ya-Ya, dedicates a chapter to this tradition. When some need prompted a person to seek the intercession of St. Joseph, they prepared a St. Joseph Day altar in their home filled with pastry’s fruits, pasta, fish, candles, holy pictures, and religious statues. Cakes and breads were included in creative shapes and designs. Meat is not included because St. Joseph’s Day usually falls in Lent.
The altar normally has three tiers, symbolizing the Trinity. A large statue of St. Joseph occupies the top. Gumbo Ya-Ya reprints invitations that were listed in The Times Picayune Newspaper. Anyone could stop in and share some food. Afterwards food was mostly donated to the poor.
Today St. Joseph Day altars are set up in Churches, homes, Italian restaurants, and halls. The St. Joseph altar shown is at St. Rita’s Church in Harahan, a municipality bordering New Orleans. While Sicilians settled in many areas of the United States, I don’t know anywhere outside of South Louisiana where this reverence for St. Joseph is preserved. Actually, most St. Joseph Day altars are in the New Orleans metropolitan area. This is something special to the citizens of the City that few outside the City know about. It’s a mix of feelings from reverence to warmth. It’s caring.
Surely the snow has to be nearly over for 2013. And with trees budding and blossoms sprouting, everyone will be thinking spring. Easter comes early in 2013, falling on March 31. This is the biggest day of the year for ladies dress hats, so there is little time to waste in getting ready.
If we say that new arrivals this year include a mix of innovation, tradition, and vintage inspiration, you would most likely reply—that’s not news. That’s true every year. And you would be right so we need to focus on the specifics.
INNOVATIVE LADIES DRESS HATS
The most innovative ladies dress hat this season has a super wide brim of layered horsehair. This is a fabulous look, but very hard to capture with photography so hope you get the idea. Created in shimmering polypropylene, the material blends tinsel in the weave for a shimmering effect. Both gold and silver are available and this material makes up the crown.
But the brim is what is so innovative—layers or horsehair create a sheer super wide brim that has a balance of bounce and body. We introduced a hat created entirely in horsehair, DH199, about seven years ago and it is still a popular hat today. Milliners often buy that hat to trim. It is especially popular with milliners doing Kentucky Derby Hats.
But the metallic ladies dress hat that is so innovative this year with layers of horsehair creating the brim requires no trimming. It is already a finished work of millinery art. The horsehair lacks the firmness of DH199, providing more sassy bounce.
METALLIC DRESS AND CHURCH HATS
Manufacturers are emphasizing metallic dress hats with eye-appealing shimmer this spring. This in not new in church hats and dress hats, but some of the shapes are innovative. Vintage inspiration is delivering stunning new styles.
The Cavalier generates the most attention. This style in ladies hats reaches back to 1920 with the publishing of the novel, The Three Musketeers. The milliners immediately incorporated the dashing design into ladies hats and since then it has been reinvented several times.
This year’s interpretation uses the metallic material described above to create a body with one side of the brim flipped up and the opposite side flipped down. The crown has a C crown indention and angles down towards the side with brim down. Horsehair loops form a ruffle to decorate one side. The finished product—STUNNING!
Another shape in metallic dress hats finds inspiration in wide brim styles from the sixties. The era called the hats cartwheels or picture hats. The wide brim was the defining feature of the hat. Crowns could be very shallow or deeper. The most stunning dress hats this season using this style is a metallic body with a wide brim the flips at the edge in the front half of the body while the back continues to angle down. That little flip at the edge of the brim raises this dress hat from ordinary to fabulous. The picture hat is reinvented in wholesale dress hats that will capture the attention of ladies shopping for a church hat.
TRADITIONAL WHOLESALE DRESS HATS
Is there any more traditional look in ladies dress hats than polypropylene hats with the fine weave that captures the look of quality possessed by Milan straws? These hats return every season with elegance and traditional shapes. Like Milan straws, they have a fine weave made in long strips that are continuously sewn to create the hat. The name of the process is sewn-and-weave or sewn-and braid and the finished product has vibrant colors as well as the quality of fine weave.
Short brims like the hat with a rolled down brim shown create a more conservative look. Popular as both church hats and Derby hats, this look has wide appeal. The style shown with short rolled down brim and high squared crown returns every year. A choice of vibrant color adds to its timeless popularity.
Dress hats using wide brims in the same material deliver superb elegance. The style shown with wide brim rolled down brings Audrey Hepburn and the silver screen of the sixties to mind. This is also an icon in dress hats for Easter, church, derby days, and Mothers Day.
ORGANZA DRESS HATS
Perhaps the greatest surprise in ladies dress hats in the last few years has been the sudden surge of popularity in organza hats. They are back in a big way for spring of 2013. Organza was originally a silk product—a sheer fabric, semi-transparent, with a natural sheen. Today organza is more often a synthetic using polyester or nylon.
Organza hats are lightweight with a natural sheen that catches the eye. Wired brims help them hold their shape and give them a shapeable quality. Colors are endless.
So what’s new in organza hats? This year, organza hats don’t disappoint with spectacular styles like the wide brim shown. The dress hat combines a shapeable wide brim with high crown squared at the top in solid color. This makes wonderful church hats for a range of personalities from conservative to more daring.
Two-toning is big this year. Organza hats combine a crown in one color with a brim in another. Surging the trim in a contrasting color also creates a two-tone effect. This is not the first year for this look, but its success last year makes it more predominant this spring.
High crowns with short downturned brims are also popular in both solid colors and two-tone. The narrow brim organza hat shown also let you see the tow-tone effect popular this spring.
PILLBOX ARE PLENTIFUL THIS SPRING
With all the pillboxes available in dress hats this spring, the mind has to wander back to the early 1960s when Jackie Kennedy quietly set the tone of the era with classy fashion as First Lady. The pillbox hat is back this spring offered in sinamay, polypropylene, and satin braid. No millinery selection is complete this spring without the pillbox.
HAT COLORS FOR SPRING
For the third season in a row, brights dominate the fashion palette. While Pantone gives a palette of bright colors like yellow, nectarine, violet, poppy red, and a lime called tender shoots, they are secondary colors rather than hit you in the face primaries. The dominant color is blue in four different hues occupying nearly half the palette.
But millinery marches to its own drummer and hat colors always include white, ivory, black, and shades of brown no matter what the palette is. In choosing colors, be aware of the palette and include some of these colors especially if you are seeing them in ladies suits, but also include the traditional colors of millinery.
Soft colors like baby blue, baby pink, lavender, and yellow are Easter colors that never change and are good up to Easter, but slow afterwards. Variety is the safe bet that satisfies everyone.
Soon to follow is a blog on prom jewelry and accessories—another of the three most important categories for this time of the year.