I was standing on the subway recently, trying to find a good spot to stare so I wouldn’t make awkward eye contact with anyone, when I noticed I wasn’t wearing a necklace. It wasn’t a big deal, obviously (I would hope that was obvious), but for a few months I’d been wearing this tarnished old Marc Jacobs pendant daily, something I’ve had since college. It’s just a tiny gold chain, perfect for everyday wear, and my mind wandered to why I’d taken it off in the first place. It wasn’t the gym the night before (because I hadn’t gone), or before taking a shower (because I hadn’t, thank god for maxi dresses, amirite?), and not before bed (because if I can’t remember to take my makeup off, expectations at remembering jewelry removal are nil). In fact, now that I was on a train-of-thought roll as I fixed my eyes on a funny Seamless ad, I hadn’t been wearing it for a while and had no idea where it was.
I’d like to reiterate that none of that is profound. My commute is 45 minutes, I’m finally caught up on all my back issues of Vogue and VF, and at that point I really had nothing else to do but think about nonsense. But it was funny not to be wearing a necklace that day because for years I always wore one. The very first thing my ex ever gave me was a beautiful silver Tiffany anchor necklace for my 22nd birthday, which I donned immediately and almost never took off. Over the years he added to my jewelry collection, more silver pieces perfect for everyday wear, and I wore them with pride every day we were together.
After we broke up I tucked them safely into a pouch in the back of my jewelry box, but not having a necklace or a ring felt very strange, since I’d been wearing the same ones for three plus years and they were pretty conspicuous in their absence at that point. Digging through a tangle of chains and charms I haven’t organized in an embarrassingly long time, I found the gold chain and a few old rings I’d forgotten I owned, and started wearing them daily, a way to get myself to stop subconsciously feeling for that light silver anchor or twist the phantom ring around my right finger. As the months went on, I noticed the rings and necklaces were a part of my everyday wear less and less, swapping the simple chain for a bold statement, keeping my arms bare of anything but my new gold watch.
I think for a long time, wearing the same jewelry everyday was like a security blanket, a small reminder of something that made me happy if things got a little stressful or crazy. I’ve been like that with jewelry for years, wearing the same bracelet every time I have a big presentation, wearing the same earrings every time I’ve interviewed for a job. The security and comfort of something ‘lucky’ or familiar is great, but it can backfire, raising anxiety on days you forget to attach the clasp before walking out the door for work. As the months have passed, it’s been very odd learning how to mix up accessories again, unaccustomed as I am to styling an outfit with a statement necklace or ring rather than just wearing the same things every day. But it’s also been really fun, like an adult version of Pretty Pretty Princess where even the black ring can be a good thing.
Fortunately for all of us, I’ve found another way to occupy my morning commute that doesn’t involve nonsense trains of thought related to what I’m wearing. But in case you were wondering, I did put the Marc Jacobs back on – just for today.