Part 3 Jewelry Tips: Earrings

Collection of Hoop Earrings

I thought I would return to the theme of jewelry tips– just in time for the holidays! Maybe you’ll be going to parties or getting dressed up. Or maybe you hang out in your pjs all day on your holidays! Those relaxing days around the house or with family can be a time to try a new style. When I’m feeling like it would take some guts to wear a new combination out in the world, I sometimes just try it around the house and see if it feels like “me.” Whether your downtime is dressy or just time to play around with upping the ante on your style, here are some tips for wearing earrings.

I’ve been paying attention to styling earrings because I’ve noticed how stylish looking people look so coordinated. Because you see the earrings and necklace in a single glance, the neck-wear, head-wear and ear -wear encompasses one look. It is the attention to detail that makes it work. But who has time to pay attention to all details at once? Try putting a little extra attention to earrings for a short time until you form your own favorite combinations and tastes. One detail at a time, and you will gradually develop and enhance your personal style.

While I will be giving tips on the current and upcoming trends, I advocate, as always, for pieces that have a timeless quality to them. Also, remember to shop vintage even when looking for a trendy style: most of the time, the trends are just recycled styles from the past.


I adore hoop earrings and have for many years. As a Latina, I also feel that it can be an expression of who I am. Jewelry can do that for you- help you express who you are and where you came from.

Lately I’ve been struggling with the question, what type of necklace do I pair with hoops? After observing people, researching celebrity streetwear photos and watching the trends, I came to a simple conclusion. Nothing. Wear the hoops with no necklace, even if your neckline gives you plenty of real estate to work with. But feel free to put studs or smaller hoops in any additional ear piercings you have. Let the focal point be on your ears.

However, I did notice exceptions to this. Small huggie hoops, which loop around very close to your earlobe, or small and dainty hoops can be paired well with a necklace with a similar style, metal or visual weight. In the third example above, the silver huggie hoops are comparable in size to the beads on the necklace. In the second image, the dainty gold hoops complement the dainty gold necklaces. 

Dainty and layered are very much in fashion at the moment. This is a good look for people who are small and dainty.

I am not. I may be short, but not dainty. I still like and wear the dainty and layered look, but it is not the only look in my repertoire. This is why I love hoops of all sizes and styles. For a trendy tip: go for silver, especially 70’s style hoops which are making a comeback.

Earcuffs and climbers

Moonkist Ear Cuffs

Earcuffs by Moonkist Designs handmade in USA;  photos by Kelly Hazel ; model Airyual Moore 

I would put these in the same category as hoops, in terms of wearing them with a bare neck, or keep the necklace simple.  A note about earcuffs: you can wear two, but you don't have to. One is enough.


Left: Louis Vuitton earrings photo credit: Pascal Le Segretain / Getty Images; Middle and Right photo by Daphne Orlando

Since we are on the topic of earrings on their own, shoulder-dusters are another earring type to take center stage. This type is also making a splash and is a continuing trend. These look amazing with open scoop neck or sleeveless dresses and though the jewelry focus is on the ears, they have a way of highlighting your lovely shoulders. Wear these with your hair in an up-do if you have mid to longer length hair. Use this as a New Years Eve look if you want to be right on trend.


These are usually minimalist and delicate. Their light weight and lack of a fastener make them very comfortable. So, backing up: what is a threader? It is an earring in which the post extends and drops down from the back of the ear and becomes part of the meant-to-be-seen aspect of the design. The extended part may even curve forward in front of the earlobe. Chains are also used for threading through the ear piercing. 

Image on right from Jaya Moksha, Brass Nautilus Spiral Earrings available on Etsy

As this style often gives a chic, contemporary look, pair with minimalist and modern necklaces. Try pairing long straight threaders with a long delicate chain of around 20” or more, and a minimalist small pendant, if at all. Curved threaders match well with a chocker length (around 16").

Dangle and Drop Earrings

This is such a broad category, so let’s break it down, starting with large statement earrings. Again, skip the necklace. If your earrings are large and have visual weight to them (regardless of their actual weight), you can balance the downward draw with going upward with your hair or even a hat. For example, you can wear a high top bun, a hair wrap or style your short hair spiked or styled upward on top. This is a great way to create some height. Not that there's anything wrong with being short!

If the earrings are medium to small, you can pair them with a necklace. (Yes, finally!!) Now the issue is, how? Allow one element to take prominence over the other, and repeat several elements so they look right together. The elements may be: style, theme, metals, shapes or stones. 

The most important aspect to match across the earring and necklace is style. Choose a style and stick to it. Such as: southwestern, minimalist, mid-century retro, steam-punk or boho. There are, of course, many more! But if you stick to one style, it is easier to mix and match stones or other aspects.

What about necklace and earring sets? 

Just to be forthright, I am not a fan of sets. Here’s why: they often lack a focal point. Don’t get me wrong- I like some. Here are examples of what I own that I like or don’t like.

This larimar set doesn’t work for me. The earrings and the pendant are the same size, which doesn’t look balanced to me. That size on the ears looks rather bold, while the same size pendant looks like a mid-size. I usually wear it with these sweet little teardrop studs instead. The earrings get worn solo.

Above are two examples that I do like. On the left is a next set I bought together. The earrings are a small element of the necklace. This necklace would have been hard to find earrings to match with, so this is an example of a set that is worth pairing.

The combo on the right is not a set. I bought these lovely vintage earrings first. The pendant did have matching earrings, but didn't have a lever -back. I’ve lost too many fish-hook style earrings. The earrings, pendant and chain were all separate purchases. I also could have opted for a rectangle-shaped pendant to mix it up a little and add interest. Maybe I still will...


These little beauties are a work horse. When trying to pair the right earrings to match the necklace in hand, I have often started to conclude that studs are the best option. They are also not supporting cast, but can also be worn on their own for a minimalist look, a simple color pop or when you just want to look classy. 

Pay attention to the size of the stud and notice what is the maximum size for your earlobe in which you still see skin around the stud. For me, that is 10 mm. The look changes when you cross into the realm of a stud that is bigger than your earlobe. At the larger size, they start to look like more of a statement, and if they are sparkly, they will dominate the look. This is great for formal wear, showcasing statement gems in the ears. But at the smaller sizes, they can sit back and let the necklace be the focal point.

Pay attention to your preferences for sparkle versus more of a matt finish. If you are wearing ethical fashion, aside from silk, most natural fibers have more muted tones and less shine than polyesters. While you can go for sparkle as a contrast, remember that natural stones, tagua nuts or colored clay can add plenty of color and depth while complementing natural fibers.

I’ve been adding to my studs collection as my current favorite go-to style. They are also very practical– living in Minnesota means I spend 6 months wearing scarves, which catch on anything below the earlobes. All winter, studs are my staple choice.

Naked ears

I’m calling them naked because that is usually how I feel when I am without earrings! But just like you can forgo the necklace, you can do the opposite. Look at photos of fashion icon Iris Apfel. She is renowned for her use of large, layered and bold jewelry covering her neck. She wears bracelets the size of grapefruits. And rings to match every combo she owns. But look at her ears: there’s nothing on them! So next time you are about to put away that necklace because you don’t know what earrings to match with it, just go out naked (in the ears.)

Fashion expert and icon, Iris Apfel, as pictured in CultureWhisper

Wrapping it all up

No matter which style you prefer, here are some themes that will be making a hit for 2023: pearls galore; sea shells and ocean inspired; hearts; and bold but minimalist silver.

Remember, you can always break the rules and make your own. My tips are just my opinion. It's all about taking the time to notice what you like and try it with confidence and have fun with it!

If you haven't read the other posts in this series click these links:

Part 1 Jewelry Tips: How to shop rings

Part 2 Jewelry Tips: Best Rings for Petites

All photos unless otherwise noted, are by Daphne Orlando.The jewelry is from her own personal collection, and some she has had for many years. The more recently purchased items shown in this article are from the following shops:


  • MiscELENAeous
  • Tuscon Trading Post
  • Vintage and Chic Finds
  • Wandajewelry2013
  • Working925Jewelry
  • LittleLinkShop

New and Handmade

  • FireandIceSilver
  • IAMcreationtenerife
  • JayaMoksha
  • JewelsbyMikiNamiki
  • Kramike
  • LegendsSilver
  • MoodiChic
  • MoonkistCreations
  • Novica
  • NtikArtJewelry
  • OliviaVDesigns
  • TInaJewelryEs
  • TribalGoddessLove
  • UnforgetSilver