Remember the spirit animal craze? At the height of spirit animal culture, I was in college. Jenny Boully was my spirit animal. Nicki Minaj, pink-wigged and bossed up at the patriarchy, was my spirit animal. And Anne, of course. Always and forever, Anne Boleyn.
Anne Boleyn, full of grace, the “glass of fashion in France,” the bird-boned heretic. If there was ever a ghost in my heart, ambitious and brittle, it was Anna Regina. The most happy. Grudge who grudge, bitches.
In 2016, the novelty of the spirit animal exclamation has worn off. There's no sheen to it now, but I find myself — in times of crisis or consternation and, alarmingly frequently on my commute — willing Anne up out of the arrow chest her body was tucked into and into my state of mind or tone of voice of tilt of head. At any point in time, there is a version of Anne worth breathing in and exhaling. Anne, changing the world that was into the world that — in her eyes — ought to be. Anne, catching a glimpse of the glittering future she wanted and believing herself capable of possessing it, and gaining it (albeit briefly). Anne, bewitching and bejeweled. Always, bejeweled.
I struggle with trends because keeping up with them requires a certain amount of money, of dedication to homogeny, and trust in authority, all of which I lack. I do love fashion, though. I love watching the world of it spin and the woozy way that history repeats itself through the years and the seasons — same animal, different pulse. But I can't quite run with the wolves, yet. I can't giddily jumpstart my wardrobe and metamorphosize into the it girl of any given season. Anne couldn't either. She made, by all accounts — and I've read many of them — her own way.
SIXTY YEARS. She did what she wanted and then other folks did it FOR SIXTY YEARS. If she didn't have to follow trends, I don't either. In all things, I trust in Anne. Anne knew how to bed a king and play a lute and write letters in French. And Anne damn well knew how to layer a necklace.
I have always preferred statement necklaces to delicate pieces, mostly because they're just easier (one and done and out the door), but the shifting of the seasons is calling for change and if I can't be an It Girl, I can at least slip on a summer skin — something lighter than the bleak black I've worn all winter. There's also my newfound fondness of very bold headbands. You can't wear a horn crown and a huge necklace. It just doesn't track.
So, I've been dabbling in layering necklaces, taking my cues from the luminous and lustrous Anne Boleyn. Here's what Anna Regina can teach us (and where to shop for the delicate and divine):
Three Is the Magic Number
In the Hever Castle portrait of Anne Boleyn, a copy of a lost original is kept safe in the National Portrait Gallery, she is wearing layers of necklaces — a double rope of pearls and her “B” pendant — because of course she is. In my Anne-as-can-be photos for this piece, I'm also wearing three strands because four is too many and two isn't really layering, it's just doubling which is neither queenly nor a statement.
Varying length is important. In Anne's portrait, she wears her pendant at her throat, with a second strand of pearls and a chain dipping down between the cut of her gown. In my modern day recreation, I went with one plunging pendant necklace, one pendant resting right at the base of my throat, and a third hovering around my collar bone. It's the perfect formula for drawing delicate attention to the most delicate parts of your chest-neck-shoulders-situation.
Also, it doesn't work just with recreation fancy lady gowns. The three-strand configuration is also wonderful with a button down or a v-neck. It's practical. So there.
Mix Everything But Metals
In the portrait of Anne that I keep mentioning and have carelessly strewn jewels across below, Anne is mixing pearls with chains which is divine, but let's take note and also be real for a minute — you can't really mix brass with gold or silver without making one of the gorgeous colors look tarnished or dull.
So, mix length, mix chain style and width, but don't throw your favorite brass chain around your neck with anything gold-plated. Anne didn't. We shouldn't.
Find Yourself a Charm and Own It
Maybe my favorite (and most actionable) layered necklace cue from Anne is to thine own self be true. Anne's “B” pendant is nearly as infamous as she was and has become part of her legendary persona as surely as her dark eyes and hair.
Like Anne, I have two pendants that I adore. The first is a tiny 'B' for Anne Boleyn ('natch) and Brandon who, coincidentally, gave me my second favorite pendant — the last bullet casing from his best friend's burial at sea set with a Herkimer diamond that my grandmother mined. Feel free to gag on the sentimentality while I get to the point.
The point is not that homemade jewelry is the best jewelry, but that without a layer that means the world to you and has significant meaning, you're just slinging strands around your neck. You have to put your stamp on this jewelry trend because it is literally over 500 years old (and probably even older than that. Who started layering necklaces? Was it Cleopatra?).
Who is your long dead fashion icon? Is it Anne? Is it Cleopatra (and seriously, did she start the necklace layering trend)?