Jewels of the Royal World

Make it Modern – The Brooch Challenge, Part 1

Do you love them? Do you hate them? Do you sit at neutral on the topic of brooches? We know there are Handbaggies who are on Team Brooch, unreservedly. “Don’t mess with their beauty,” they say. Then there are those who find them a bit aging. “Too associated with the older set”, they say. Then there is the “meh, who cares?” crowd.

Regardless of where you stand on the topic, no question that most of the royal houses have a supply of brooches in their vaults, and they go relatively unused by the younger generations. We will throw down the challenge to the community: how would you market brooches to appeal to the younger royals? Let’s talk a little about placement.

Note: Part 2 is all about brooches as hair ornaments, so let’s wait for next week to delve into those possibilities!


When it comes to innovative placement of the brooch, the Queen Mother was more modern than the modern royals. The raffish touch of the brooch on a hat was a favorite of hers, and a trend I really think needs to make a comeback.

She passed this habit on to her daughter, although the Queen seems to have moved away from it, more’s the pity.

Embed from Getty Images


Brooches centered on a bodice is both a Handbag-approved alliteration and a placement that isn’t used enough by our younger royal crowd.


My favorite placement is at the corners of a sweetheart or square neckline, using brooches as dress clips.

Photo from “The Queen’s Diamonds” by Hugh Roberts

Not to say that NO modern royal has ever taken this approach. Letizia Ortiz brought out the ruby clips at Crown Prince Frederick’s wedding. Let’s see this more often!

Embed from Getty Images


We know that Maxima is the Queen of the Hat, but her favorite non-traditional brooch placement is actually at the waist. Granted, this works best when you have brooches of major proportions, but that shouldn’t be a problem for most royals. I really want to see this catch on in the House of Windsor.

If a modern royal wanted to get truly innovative, then looking back to Queen Alexandra’s deployment of the bow brooches down the skirt would be a fascinating throwback.

Queen Alexandra in mourning for Queen Victoria, Wikimedia Commons


Clustering brooches is like painting with jewels, and we wish there were a royal who might give it a go with a couple of the pins in their possession. Clustering stars is something royals currently do, and we hope they try it with some of their other pins, too. Here Maxima sneaks in a twofer: cluster of stars on a turban-hat. Who else would dare that? Bene, the master, takes the Danish stars and lines them up, soldier style. Oma prefers a more staggered cluster effect.

Why not try this with brooches that are not stars? Below is a starter dream board for those royals who might be following along.

Classic, Single, Right Shoulder

Ah, finally, a category for those of you who love the simply yet artfully placed brooch alone on a dress, jacket or sash. Just let them shine, you say. This placement is for you.

What are your thoughts?