Fashion trends come and go, and then come again, and a lot of times, you never see them coming.
When a trend does resurface, you might be all about it, or you might wish that it stayed in the decade it came from. There’s a lot of mixed opinions, but since it’s a trend, there must be something about it that makes it “cool.”
Nowadays, you don’t have to look very hard to find out that a lot of the current fashion trends that “came back” are from the 1990’s/early 2000’s, and I, just like every other Milennial, LOVE the how today’s style reflects that beloved era.
But, even though I’m all about the chokers, crop tops, and mom jeans, there’s still one trend that I haven’t seen make a big comeback just yet: shell jewelry. More specifically, cowrie shell chokers and puka shell necklaces.
You might have read those names and thought “What?” And it’s ok if you did, because honestly, before writing this post, I didn’t know that this type of accessory had names other than “shell jewelry” either. And if you didn’t recognize the names, you’ll most likely recognize the pictures. Honestly, it’ll be pretty hard not to if you’re a 90’s baby.
In my opinion, these two trends deserve to come back along with the rest of the era they’re from, and I’m about to break them down and tell you why I think so.
The first of the two necklaces, the cowrie shell chokers, basically consists of a a row of cowrie shells woven onto a hemp or hemp-like string. The one I have is about as simple as it gets, but you’ll find that there’s a really wide and unique selection of styles when it comes to shopping for pieces such as this one.
They might have colored hemp, decorative beads, or the shells may dangle instead of being in a fixed position. It’s also common for the shells to be in between two pieces of string, so it looks kind of like a ladder.
When I was little, I loved the cowrie shell chokers because they were a chunky statement piece, and always looked handmade, which gave them a really home-y feeling. Plus, all of the older girls that I looked up to and wanted to be like always wore them so well and looked super stylish while wearing them.
I remember one summer camp I went to where we took a trip to Sea World, some other girls and I thought my group leader was the coolest person on the planet because she had a cowrie shell choker and a tounge piercing. After that, I just had to have one.
I can’t remember where I got it, but I did end up getting one eventually, and I still have it even though it’s just been sitting in my jewelry box.
The other trendy piece of shell jewelry from my childhood, the puka shell necklace, is a string of several small cone shell pieces. A lot of times, they have other beads or charms, such as a surfboard, or the shell shards can be dyed another color so that the necklace is something other than white.
The puka shell necklace itself, along with the process of making it, can actually be tied back to Hawaiian roots, but most people associate it with surfers and beachy lifestyles. I know it’s not just a Florida or California thing though, because when I was growing up, it seemed like every character on tv was wearing one, regardless of the setting.
Like the cowrie shell choker, I still have an old puka shell necklace sitting around in my room somewhere, but since I couldn’t find it in my old jewelry box, my sister let me borrow hers.
This particular necklace is from Ron Jon Surf Shop, so it’s most likely not “authentic,” and it’s probably overpriced, but it’s still the perfect example of a trend I want to come back.
That brings me to another good point and little side note: if you’re visiting any beaches this summer, and looking for some shell jewelry to take back as a souvenir, stay away from big tourist beach shops, and look for independent local shops, or individual local sellers themselves. It might be a search, but I know it’s common for the residents of beach towns to handmake and sell things like shell jewelry. If you’re lucky, they might even come up to you and have you take a look at their work while you’re lounging on the beach, I speak from experience.
Even though the puka shell necklaces appear a little more basic, and don’t always look as handmade as the chokers, I still think they’re cute, and I feel like their subtlety makes it easier to find things to wear them with. Pairing a cowrie shell choker with an Aztec print skirt might not look very good because they’re two different styles, but a puka shell necklace might go really well with said skirt, because they’re a solid white and don’t have a lot going on.
Also, the whole shells found on the chokers limits them to beachy styles, but the puka necklaces look more like shards and aren’t as obvious, so it won’t look like you’re wearing two contrasting styles if you wear it with a more boho or grunge outfit.
If these trends did come back, I’m not sure if I would wear them every day like my tattoo choker, but it would definetly be a cool acessory to wear to the pool or the beach, or if I happen to be wearing a beachy outfit. And since I already still have both of them, I wouldn’t need to go out searching for new ones.
I might just get my wish too, because the Prada Fall 2017 Ready-to-Wear runway show features quite a bit of shell jewelry, and anyone in the fashion industry knows that every big trend is first seen on the runway, so I’m going to take that as a very big hint from Prada.
What do you think about this trend? Is there a certain trend you want to see make a come back? Or not come back? As always, let me know in the comments!