How to wear jewelry like a rock star

December 17, 2009
By
Johnny Depp channels Springsteen (bohemian beads and muscle shirt) and George Harrison (head scarf with goatee)

Johnny Depp channels Springsteen (bohemian beads and muscle shirt) and George Harrison (head scarf with goatee)

Springsteen and Little Stevie

Springsteen and Little Stevie

Johnny Depp based his pirate turn on Keith Richards

Johnny Depp based his pirate turn on Keith Richards

Keith Richards napping between sets. Try wearing this belt to the office.

Keith Richards between sets. (Check out that belt!)

Tyrone Power beat 'em all to the punch in the 1942 swashbuckler, The Black Swan

Is it a rock star? A Harley rider? No, it's Tyrone Power in the 1942 swashbuckler, The Black Swan!

Beads, ear hoops and a head scarf – now there’s a bad boy look that goes way back.

Before Springsteen, before the Rolling Stones, before Hell’s Angels, there was… Tyrone Power?

Here’s visual evidence tracing hoops and headscarves back to 1942, when Power played a buccaneer who gets reformed by Maureen O’Hara. (What pirate could resist?) But it dates back at least a century before that.

Yes, long before seventies rock stars co-opted this look, little boys were wearing it on Halloween, having copied it from pirate movies, which were likely inspired by paintings and engravings of seafaring adventures.

Paintings in the Nantucket Whaling Museum show seamen, circa 1840s, wearing gold hoops in their ears, probably acquired on whaling voyages somewhere in the South Seas.

Ship captains from that era cultivated a more gentlemanly appearance. They were usually depicted with haughty pallor, Napoleonic sideburns, high collars and neck scarves.

But the swarthy, working-class sailors forced to do the sweaty stuff got to play around a bit with jewelry and tattoos – at least until they returned to uptight New England.

A century and a half later, men are still dressing like pirates. Now we call them bikers and rock stars.

You might also be interested in:

How to wear jewelry like a rock star, part II (tips from a former record producer who runs a gallery in Maui and sells jewelry to rockers like Steve Tyler and Tommy Lee)

Related posts:

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How to wear jewelry like a rock star

Skulls in jewelry and watches

How to wear jewelry like a gent

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3 Responses to How to wear jewelry like a rock star

  1. Jennifer Haupt on December 19, 2009 at 6:01 am

    I absolutely love this blog — what fun! Glad I discovered it through FLX. Nice to have a new blogging buddy who covers a totally different subject than me. Peace – Jen

  2. Cynthia Zelenty on May 22, 2011 at 1:53 pm

    Trying to get details about that belt that Keith Richards was wearing.. any ideas?
    When, where did he get it? who designed it? etc.

    Thanks,
    Cynthia

  3. Cathleen McCarthy on December 9, 2013 at 8:11 pm

    Cynthia, I have no idea but I want it.

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