Sunday, June 04, 2023

First it was fringe. As the Fashion Link reported last year (“Living on the Fringe...of Fashion,” April 16, 2016), fringe has been a fun and whimsical addition to wardrobe and accessories. A quick look around and the fashion-savvy accessorizer will notice that fun additions are not limited to fringe. Apparently, accessories now need their own accessories, so hats, purses, hats, sweaters and mostly more hats have become a new palette for the bling-loving stylist.

It started as a little furry ball. Maybe someone saw it on their kid’s keychain and thought, “Hey, I could wear that and make it work.” Whatever the reasoning behind it, pompoms have been popping up everywhere. These pompoms have left many people scratching their heads—and hats—in wonderment. But Omri Amar of Solene Boutique, which specializes in stylish and contemporary headwear, offered an explanation. “Trends are done by high-end designers for runway fashion,” he explained. “Fashion-aware individuals in the Orthodox communities will see these styles and bring them to ‘frum fashion.’”

Such is the case with the pompom, and even the pompom’s best friend and newer to the hat scene, the tassel. Yes, the tassel is a cousin of fringe; fringes bound together in a collective unit. Previously utilitarian in their purpose—tassels can make for easier open and close of purses or zippers—tassels have now become a fashion accessory in their own right.

While at first people may have looked askance at pompom- and tassel-adorned apparel and accessories, the early adopters of fashion set the trend, and at this point pompoms and tassels are a ubiquitous part of fashion wear. Extending even into fashion’s “late majority” as the marketing term calls them, with the exception of a few groups of people, many fully embrace the adornments to their wardrobe. Meechal Finkelstein, owner of Michelle Judith Boutique in Teaneck, offered her understanding of the recent trend. “People want to have fun with fashion,” she explained, “and to have fun covering their hair. Adding appliques, tassels, pompoms, color, flowers, sequins or anything else that can jazz up a piece makes the process more exciting and more fashionable.”

Different add-ons give a different feel to the hair-covering look. For instance, spiked studs have appeared on slouch beanies, giving an edgy look to the hair-covering and hat-wearing clientele. Flowers add an earthy and sometimes ethereal feel to the wearer, pearls add a dressy and more classy touch without the formality of a full pearl necklace and pompoms and tassels are just fun. As one wearer commented, “These extra accessories help me make an outfit more exciting but allow me to steer away from solid colors. Even a bright neon is more exciting with accessories on it.”

Not everyone is all in favor of this style, though. Are they just slower to adapt, as the marketing classifies “laggards,” or is there something more? Are they just accessory averse? “I constantly marvel, perhaps in judgment, at how pervasive a trend can be,” said one local woman who considers herself part of an unofficial resistance group. She wonders if people actually like how it looks, or if they are just trying to fit in with a trend without stopping to think about how the style looks in reality.

Others feel that like many trends, what at first may seem too off the beaten path and odd, becomes accepted and a fashion norm, and as stated earlier, an option for self expression beyond just colors and prints.

Even with all the designs on hats, these are really just one piece of fashion to receive textured updates. Skirts with petals, shirts and sweaters with feathers and pompoms on everything can be found at high-end stores as well as fast-fashion outlets. Enjoy the fun this accessory adds to any outfit.

By Jenny Gans


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