The hoop earring, fashion's newest re-emergent accessory, is a throwback to '80s style — big, gauche and flashy.
Those hoops we see today are the same back-in-the-day ones that the original Foxy Brown, (Pam Grier), Sade, Jody Watley and Cher all once sported; fashion, after all, always repeats itself.
What's best about this round icon is that almost anyone can wear it. Unlike the newest hair color or low-slung, snakeskin jeans — styles that don't flatter everyone — the hoop looks good on just about everybody and complements almost every hair style.
"Practically everyone can wear the hoop earring," says Melanie Domrase, sales manager of fashion jewelry and accessories at Parisian in Livonia. "I've seen them with every hairstyle."
But before you run out and buy a pair of hoops to wear with that head-to-toe leopard-print outfit, remember this: Domrase says that hoops work best when the rest of the outfit is understated.
Besides the versatility of hoops, they're also quite affordable. Prices at Parisian are from $9.99 to $28 — cheap enough for one to toss them if the hoop is played out next fall. However, Domrase predicts that hoops will be hot at least until spring.
Nine West, Anne Klein, Tommy Hilfiger, Kenneth Cole and Parisian's own line are among the hot brands of hoops. But to be sure you don't break your pocket, Domrase suggests buying costume jewelry, not real gold.
At Claire's, a store that sells fashion earrings galore, the hoop is a popular item. They carry a variety of sizes, from very small to really large. A large hoop would be, according to Domrase, the "diameter of a Coke can."
Just as the sizes at Claire's vary, so do the prices, ranging from $4 to $10. At the Somerset Mall location, assistant manager Ronetta Smith, who used to wear very large hoops when she had shorter hair, says she thinks the resurgence of the hoop earring is because celebrities including hip-hop artists Lil' Kim and Mary J. Blige are sporting them. "Most of the time people wear and buy what they see celebrities wear," she says.
Harriette Cole was the first-season costume designer of the "Queen Latifah Show" and is now president and creative director of image company Profundities in New York. She attributes the popularity of the hoop earring to the hip-hop culture.
"It takes things a while to trickle down to the mainstream," says Cole. "Hoop earrings have been popular in the hip-hop community for the past two to three years." Lauryn Hill and Blige are known for their ritzy fashion sense and for having their faces adorned with large, round earrings, she says. "The new culture of hip-hop, not just the music, has influenced global culture."
After the logo-driven flair and the glitzy shine of the '80s were dulled by the more conservative '90s, the accessories of choice were minimal. Hoops are a direct contrast to what the fashion community previously offered, explains Cole. "In the fashion community, we see a resurgence of '80s style — the glamorous extravagance that calls for bold accessories."
It's the same in Detroit. "We're definitely going right back to the '80s with the flashy jewelry, neck cuffs and bangles," says Domrase.
Cole, who has provided image and styling advice to the Temptations, Carl Thomas, Erykah Badu and Blige, agrees with Domrase that the hoop is flattering on everyone and works best when the rest of the outfit is low-key. "There should be a balance when wearing large hoops, where the jewelry is not taking over," she says. "Make sure it's a statement rather than a multiple statement."
She recommends sporting a big ring and a bracelet with the large earrings, with no other jewelry adorning the face or the neck.
In Cole's opinion, a confident woman with her own sense of style looks best in hoop earrings. "A bob, locks, a very short natural — virtually any hair style will work with the large hoop. It's the attitude."
Curtrise Garner is a Detroit freelance writer who wears hoop earrings almost every day. E-mail her at email@example.com.