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I can still remember the first time I wore big earrings. “Hoops,” my father called them. So big that you could, so to speak, hop, skip and jump with them. They were in fashion, and for my teenage self, that was enough of a reason to wear them. I started with silver-colored and later added a bright neon-yellow pair. Neon colors were hip, it was the 90s, and every girl was wearing bright colors and hoops.
A few years later, I said goodbye to them. I’d always found them irritating. They were so big they tapped my shoulders whenever I moved my head. But as with many trends in my teenage years, I just went with the flow and wasn’t bothered when the trend was over. I replaced the hoops with a smaller earring, silver and about three centimeters big with crystals. I still have them, although I haven’t touched them in years.
Nowadays, there are several hoops in my jewelry drawer. Thick, thin, silver, gold, rose gold, with and without stones: I have a range of styles. They all have one thing in common and that is that they are small. I rarely wear anything bigger than one centimeter. I quickly find two centimeters too big, too striking. I think it has to do with age. My friends earrings have also shrunk in recent years.
Are large hoop earrings unprofessional?
Maybe it’s age, but society also plays an important role. We often consider large rings in your ears unprofessional.
When I discussed this with etiquette expert Anne-Marie van Leggelo, I got to learn some history. She tells me they are one of the oldest types of earrings. They were worn during the time of slavery and later functioned as collateral. When someone died, the family inherited them; the earrings had financial value. They have remained popular over the years, sometimes large and sometimes smaller. But in a formal, business setting are not appropriate. I ask her why and the answer is simple. Big earrings distract from your message, says van Leggelo. You want your words, not your earrings, to take center stage. She, therefore, recommends limiting your hoops to about one centimeter in a business setting.
Okay, so I don’t just write about work clothes, I also unconsciously adhere to earring etiquette. Something I didn’t even know existed.
Hygiene and safety
I have never got comments about my earrings in a business setting. Strange as it may sound, it happens. Last June, Shari, a medical student, received comments about her earrings during an exam. The Latina shared her story on Twitter and went viral. She emphasized she has been wearing the earrings since childhood and has no intention of saying goodbye to them.
As a big believer in personalizing your workwear, I can understand the comments. In healthcare, large earrings are often not acceptable because of hygiene and safety. But does that make them unprofessional in 2021? Have times not changed?
What do you think? Are large hoop earrings unprofessional?