Balancing Earrings with Hairstyles

Shown above are my favorite earrings from Infrared Studios. They’re big monsters, as you can see, and I’ve worn them tons since I nabbed them back in November of 2010. The earrings are quite visible in both photos, but it’s a trick. A trick, I tell you! If I hadn’t jammed my hair behind my ear for the photo on the left, you’d hardly have known I was wearing earrings at all.

See? In the outfit shot from that day, you can just barely see some curved metal objects peeking through the hair curtains. These earrings played a very different role in my accessorization life back when I had longer locks.

I’ve been asked to share my thoughts on balancing earrings with hairstyles, and I’m happy to do so … but as always, I’ll be sharing my own preferences and opinions, not anything that I consider to be any kind of style mandate. Every woman’s tastes and preferences will be slightly different, so take from this what suits you and leave the rest!

Learn about your face shape

Earrings interact with hair and hairstyles, sure, but they also play off of face shape. And if you’ve got a really short crop, choosing earrings that work with your own face shape will be key to creating flattering looks. I know that determining face shape can seem well nigh impossible, but this guide is extremely detailed and scientific and should help somewhat. It even delves into some suggested hairstyles.

Once you’ve determined your overall face shape, the main thing you’ll want to bear in mind is that wearing earrings that mimic the shape of your lovely visage will serve to emphasize its dominant characteristic. Women with very long or oblong faces may want to avoid long chain drops, straight bars, and anything that creates an exaggeratedly long vertical line alongside the face. Women with very round faces will make their faces look rounder when they wear circular hoop earrings. All of these visual tricks will be further emphasized if you’re wearing your hair short, so be aware.

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Keep the balance

With all jewelry and accessories, I believe in striking a balance. Big everything worn everywhere doesn’t work for my style or figure, and doesn’t suit my taste. But I adore big, bold, statement-making jewelry and accessories, so I try to wear them in a balanced way. This is most often relevant when dealing with jewelry worn around the face: Necklaces and earrings. When I had longer hair, it would obscure nearly all earrings including truly large and eye-catching ones. So I felt comfortable wearing big earrings with a relatively big necklace, like the chunky chain shown above. Even back then, though, I was unlikely to pair my most enormous pair of earrings with my biggest, boldest, most noticeable necklace, and if I was wearing my hair pulled back, I’d be even more mindful of keeping balance. With the pixie cut, it’s almost exclusively one or the other: Big earrings OR big necklace, not both.

This guideline is also helpful in non-hair-related accessorization situations. A huge, wide belt and a statement necklace may appear overwhelming since they’ll sit relatively close to one another.  Depending on your tastes, a chunky cuff bracelet may also appear to compete with a wide or flashy belt. Enormous earrings, however, are unlikely to create imbalance with belts and bracelets because they’re fairly far apart. In fact, large earrings often look better when worn with at least one other large accessory. That’s balance again.

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Explore unusual studs

Since I’m keen to keep my collection of big, fun necklaces in rotation, I’ve had to re-think my collection of smaller earrings. I’ve always kept a few pairs on hand – CZ and pearl studs, small hoops – but I’ve found myself seeking out unusual studs. Since my own haircut can skew a bit retro, big, round studs and clip-on reminiscent earrings make me feel a bit too costume-y. But I’ve been wearing my pyramid stud earrings quite a bit, and also love my dichroic glass studs which are small but bright and appear to glow a bit as they sit quietly on my lobes.

Studs are a great option for subdued earring looks, regardless of your hairstyle. But they become key to striking that jewelry balance when you’ve got a pixie or other ear-exposing ‘do.

Hope these guidelines are helpful!

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27 Responses to “Balancing Earrings with Hairstyles”

  1. Lisa

    Also the length of your neck is important I have a pretty round face and would love to wear long dangly earrings, but my neck is very short as well and the earrings often end up coming past my shoulders depending on how long the are. I can’t pull off long earrings or chandelier earrings….

    • Jen

      That’s funny because I have the same problem but I love long earrings. I consider it a tribute to loving my short, almost non-existant neck.

  2. Cynthia

    One of the best things about shorter hair is that people can see my earrings. Of course, that does not explain why I’m in a rut wearing pretty much the same ones everyday. I never scientifically analyzed it, but I like big hoops if I’m going to wear non-small earrings. Long dangles don’t appeal to me as much.

  3. ki.

    I have a long-ish neck and an oval to round face so I find that danglier earrings look better on me! But I like statement necklaces so I have some basic studs, including plain silver and golden ones so that they go with ANY necklace!

  4. Mary

    My taste in jewelry (as in most of my wardrobe) has mostly been unfussy and delicate. This worked well when I had a pixie cut and small drop earrings looked just right. I didn’t even think about my face shape (which is round) and what styles complimented it. But now that my hair is grown down to my shoulder blades and is big and curly, I definitely need jewelry that pops!
    I gravitate toward bright colors, semiprecious stones, and simple shapes still. I’ve found that against dark hair like mine, I like the look of bright and/or light colors. Vice versa, I love how black stones and dark pearls look against lighter hair.
    And many styles of chandelier earrings, gorgeous as they are, get tangled in my curly hair and if I wear them to a party, I end up nodding in a weird way and dipping the ends of my hair in my drink. So unless it’s super formal and my hair will be up, I stick to simpler, less link-y styles.
    And it’s funny that I’ve gotten so minimalist, I still usually don’t wear necklaces with earrings unless both are very delicate. Like a tiny Claddagh charm that my boyfriend gave me, paired with plain CZ studs.
    I have been challenging myself to wear chunkier stuff, but when I shop for it, I don’t see much I like, and I don’t end up buying any. Possibly because chunky jewelry is, by definition, not to my taste …

  5. Sonja

    I have short hair, and usually wear only EITHER a necklace OR earrings. But then the piece of jewelry tends to be on the bigger side. Only very occasionally do I wear both, but in that case, normally both are very small.

  6. Kat

    I have a mass of long hair, but a short neck; the latter means I still have to be careful not to wear big earrings with a big necklace or they are too close together and compete for attention.

    I tend to stick to studs or short dangles; big earrings feel like they’re drawing too much attention to my face when usually I’d rather hide it. (That’s part of what the hair is for–to pull focus away.) Besides, I’d rather go crazy with statement necklaces instead.

  7. Becca

    That was my favorite thing about chopping my hair off back in ’06. Suddenly my earrings were HOLY CENTER OF ATTENTION! I hadn’t noticed how my earrings faded into the background when my hair was longer until I realized how much they popped when hair all up in their way.

  8. Katharine

    The most recent time I had my hair very short, I wore small steel captured-ball rings in two of my three remaining open ear piercings, and then in the other front hole, would wear a single large, bizarre earring that I changed up. I have, now, quite the collection of odd artist-made earrings, mostly sterling silver, but I’m short and have a small face, so I’ve always felt that TWO big earrings made me look strange and choked. Plus, I like assymmetrical things.

    I haven’t worn earrings for years, though, except the occasional fancy one or two for dressup, and a couple of times for theatre. I’ve just gotten SUPER minimalist, and now mostly wear only a single piece of jewellery (generally a ring or a large bracelet) at a time. The other day, I tried getting one of the captured-ball rings through a hole again, but it’s gotten too tight. I did rather like that look; it was sort of very clean and industrial.

    With longer hair, if I do wear earrings (or when I did) I tended to stick to studs unless my hair was up. If it was up, I often still played with assymmetry and single earrings, but tended more to the trailing and the dangly than the simply large. (I have always liked lopsidedness in updos, too; as long as I can remember, unless I was yanking everything back into tight knots, I have left a lock or so trailing down the side when my hair was mostly up.)

  9. Holly

    I find it often works to match face shape with earrings. Namely, if you have a long face a long pointed earring is over kill and that a rectangle or round earring works better. Round faces seem to do well with long or squarish earrings. I have been designing art glass jewelry for over 20 years. I make dichroic studs and you are so right they are wonderful as a casual small spot of light. I find I sell them to every age group.

      • Jen

        Also, may I ask how long your post are? Would love to order some, but I have thick ears and need longer posts so they won’t pinch.

  10. LinB

    I love studs, but my job requires that I answer the telephone all day long at the office. Stud earrings clank against the earpiece when I answer the phone. Danglies don’t clank. Therefore, I limit myself to danglies. It’s just easier.

    • Sal

      Interesting! Both kinds irritate me when I’m on the phone, and I end up taking one out and walking around all lopsided for most of the day. 😉

  11. ChrisE

    For the past 10 years I have worn nothing but hoops. Hoops were my statement earring. Also for the past 10 years I have been a slave to straightening my curly curly hair. This year I went back to my curls and that mass of curls is an accessory unto itself so I have to be a bit careful. I have been playing with different earring styles. I do have a long neck so dangles work and studs look good to with a great necklace. Anyway, one strange thing I deal with is that one ear is pierced funny….the earring on that ear always seems to turn out. Although pierced 30 years ago, maybe I should go for a re-do??

    • Megan

      I have funnily pierced ears, too. Apparently, my ears are lopsided (like most body parts!) and instead of trying to evenly space the holes in the ears, the piercer tried to match the holes horizontally across my face. I can’t wear some sets of earrings because one of the holes is too close to other holes. : /

      If you’ve had the piercing for 30 years will it close up enough that you can have it repierced?

  12. angie

    I love those earring on you, Sal!

    I have very short blonde hair, dainty features, big eyes and wear specs. I do not wear earrings at all. The last time I wore them was on my wedding day 15 years ago. There is too much going on when I add earrings to the picture – a small face with big specs is quite enough for my style. Plus, I bat for Team Less is More. That being said, I have clients who have short hair, wear specs AND earrings. Plus they will throw in a scarf too! It suits their maximal style and their larger frame.

  13. Kaffesoester

    Sadly I never wear earrings. My face seems so “crowded” when I also wear glasses (unfortunately I can’t wear contacts). Last time I bought new glasses I went for a neutral frame in the hope that I could wear earrings too. But I’m still not happy with it. Looking at other women wearing both glasses and earrings I think they tend to look a bit overloaded too.

  14. Marie

    I just pierced my ears this year! I am loving earrings so much.
    I have a ton of curly long hair, but it’s almost always in a pony or bun. I love all types of earrings, but I have a long thin face and wear a bike helmet often, so I usually stick with fun studs: faceted gold/silver, pearl, CZ – anything that lights up my face.

  15. buzibu

    Hmm, frankly, I’ve never thought this matters, unless one is dealing with truly large earrings, larger than 2 inches, which I do not wear.

    At a smaller size, anything goes. I do look at how color and style play with the rest of the clothes and accessories, but shape – if I find it pretty on its own, I don’t care about how it might go with the shape of the face, and I never notice this type of thing on others (whereas something comparatively larger, like an unflattering neckline, is noticeable to me on myself and on others).

  16. Claire

    I have long hair and an absolutely massive and long head. I’ve found that my best bet when it comes to earrings is to actually match the bighugeness – it seems like long, detailed earrings make everything look in proportion while studs or smaller dangles just make my head look that much larger. I’m not the biggest fan of hoops, either, as I feel they clash with my diamond face shape.

    Perhaps my hair is the deciding factor here, though… small earrings do sort of seem lost in the golden abyss when I let it down! ;P

  17. Mia

    I don’t know that I’ve ever thought about what earrings go with my face shape! I have a bunch that my mom handed down to me from herself and my grandma, and I tend to concentrate more on color than shape when matching them to clothing. Although I do admit that I’ll wear less/smaller other jewelry if I’m wearing big honkin’ earrings. I don’t think I’ve ever found a pair that I thought, “I can’t wear these due to my haircut/face shape,” though.

  18. Candice

    I think that you should wear whatever earrings you want, regardless of your hairstyle. I’ve had short, long, and in between, and never changed my jewelry at all. I think it can work well if you buy good pieces in the first place.

  19. Sarah

    I am petite and have very fine features. I feel that large earrings just don’t work well most of the time regardless of hairstyle. I will say though that occasionally I will go out on a limb and wear smaller chandelier earrings (relative to the really huge ones haha but still large) and it “works.” But I prefer wearing my fine hair down with them or at least half up. To feel like an outfit is truly put together, I wear studs, a bracelet, my wedding/engagement ring set, and some kind of detail around my neck (may be on the shirt or may be a small necklace).

  20. Joy

    I wear smaller/delicate earrings almost all the time. I did when my hair was short, and now when my hair is shoulder-length. I also have a shorti-ish neck, and don’t like the way dangly earrings look on me.