“Pom Pom” & Circumstance

Figue ‘Iris’ slides in multicolored buffalo leather and goatskin with pom-poms, $295 More info/Purchase

The word “pom-pom” dates back to the 18th century and is derived from the French word “pompon”. Soldiers from different regiments of Napoleon’s army wore tall structured caps and personalized them by adding their own trademark pom-poms in varying colors and shapes.

In South America, traditional garments (for both men and women) were decorated with differently colored pom-poms to signify their marital status. In Rome, clergymen wore squared caps with pom-poms in different colors to mark the wearer’s order. In Scotland, men’s traditional Balmoral bonnets (berets) were adorned on top with a bright red pom-pom called a toorie.

It was not until the Great Depression of the 1930’s, that pom-poms enjoyed their biggest popularity due to their accessible DIY properties and their affordability: they were easily scrapped together using leftover yarn and became an easy way to embellish and decorate. To this day, they continue to be popular forms of embellishment and as it turns out, they are right in step with the rather exotic and global vibe that is winding its way through the fashion universe.

Almost nothing puts a smile on my face as quickly as seeing something otherwise serious and straight-laced, playfully embellished with pom- poms and because of my embrace of the fun, amusing, and quirky side of fashion, I have long gravitated to them. Admittedly, they can tend to look a bit too puerile if not done in a sophisticated way but luckily, there are some really good pieces (accessories and ready-to-wear) that fit that bill; some, unapologetically more colorful, eccentric and ‘out there’ than others.

 Among my favorites:

Rei Kawakubo for Comme des Garcons black jacket with scarf overlay and pom-pom details, $550. More info/Purchase

Joshua Sanders pom-pom embellished slip on sneakers, $152.  More info/Purchase

Joshua Sanders grey leather and wool pom-pom sneakers, $156.  More info/Purchase

Figue Tuk Tuk tote with colorful pom poms, $495. More info/Purchase

Figue Tuk Tuk medium tote in black & told toned cotton and leather with black pom-poms, $795. More info/Purchase

Figue onyx silk ‘Maja’ shorts with pom-poms, $250. More info/Purchase

J.Crew Lily pom-pom trimmed ankle-wrap black & white gingham flats, $228. More info/Purchase

Gaia for J.Crew pom-pom trimmed black and white gingham bag, $128. (FYI, Gaia refers to goddess of the Earth in Greek mythology and the company, founded in 2009 creates handcrafted accessories by female refugee artisans. Based in Dallas, Texas, Gaia provides a living wage and dignified, sustainable employment that expands women’s skill sets. This exclusive bag was inspired by Moroccan pouches and comes with a hangtag signed by the artisans who lovingly made it. More info/Purchase

Nannacay Baby Roge pom-pom embellished woven raffia tote, $170. (FYI, Nannacay, an exclusive at Net-a-porter.com, is known for its fashion project ‘Creative Hands Transforming Lives’. Its mission is “to provide artful opportunities around the globe”). More info/Purchase

Sanayi313 pom-pom embellished striped canvas slippers, $860. More info/Purchase

Les Petits Joueurs Alex mini leather fur-pom bag in black and red, $1050. More info/Purchase

– Marilyn Kirschner

Marilyn Kirschner

I am a long time fashion editor with 40+ years of experience. As senior market of Harper's Bazaar for 21 years I met and worked with every major fashion designer in the world and covered all of the collections in Paris, London, Milan and New York. I was responsible for overall content, finding and pulling in the best clothes out there, and for formulating ideas and stories.

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