From prim to punk: How to transform your pearls

Needless to say, pearls are the little black dress of jewelry – they simply never go out of style. So while you've likely been rocking them for forever, baubles this season have a totally different look. Models toted pearl-studded leather clutches on the runway, while tiny pearl chokers were worn with Saint Laurent's mesh and leather bustiers. On the Lanvin runway, models strutted down the catwalk with oversized triple strand pearls, and Alexander McQueen's collection featured leather finger caps with pearl knuckle rings attached.

Clearly, these pearls are not one bit conservative, nor do they look like something your grandma would wear. They're all at once elegant, edgy and understated: Your perfect fall accessory. So no matter what you're wearing, whether it be slouchy boyfriend jeans or a black cable-knit dress, incorporate some pearly accessories from fine jewelers, follow these tips and you're instantly on-trend. Though it may sound like an oxymoron, pearls and punk rock are indeed a match made in heaven.

Layer up
One of the simplest ways to give pearls a funkier look is by layering them. Additionally, this is a great way to dress up a boring frock that has a scoop neckline in both the front and back. This effect works best if you wear multiple strands that have varying lengths. For example, try donning a choker over a longer rope or opera style necklace. Or, you could try taking several pearl strands of the same length and tying them in a tassel-like knot. From there, you could add different styles of necklaces, such as chains or pendants. 

For an elegant yet dramatic evening look, pair a daring backless gown with a long pearl rope, and let it hang down in the back. From the front, it will look like you're wearing a demure collar, so the back will add an element of surprise.

Mix and match
There's no reason your pearls have to match – take a risk and pair different sizes and hues together for an eclectic look. For example, freshwater pearls look striking against an heirloom pearl necklace. Subtly varying hues of darker ivory and bright white have a unique visual effect. Perhaps the best way to give pearls pizzazz, though, is by mixing in contrasting pieces. Try attaching a brooch or a cameo to the side of a pearl necklace for some vintage appeal. Or, if you're more daring, layer on some chunky silver or gold chains with delicate pearl strands. An art deco pendant over a pearl necklace offers a retro vibe, which is all the rage thanks to "The Great Gatsby" major motion picture.

Consider colors
Don't forget that white isn't your only option when it comes to pearls. While ivory is surely classic and timeless, there are plenty of other hues that can offer a pop of color to a drab ensemble. Golden pearls, for example, look glam against a shrunken cream angora sweater. If you need to soften up a black leather ensemble, consider blush pearls – they'll add instant femininity. Looking to transform a frillier frock? Black Tahitian pearls are an unexpected addition that will make any dress look more grown-up. 

Find a new purpose
Sometimes the best way to achieve a different look with your pearls is by simply re-imagining how to wear them. Try winding a necklace around your wrist multiple times to create a striking multi-strand bracelet. Get creative with this, and you're bound to attract some serious attention. Another idea is to wrap a long pearl strand around your waist as a belt, and secure it with an ornate pin.