The Budget Babe | Affordable Fashion & Style Blog

Ask BB: Thoughts on Pierced Ears and Style

First Lady Michelle Obama often incorporates classic pearl studs into her wardrobe for day, while opting for opulent statement earrings for evening.

I've been considering piercing my ears for a while, but I'm worried that I'll be allergic/get an infection/etc. I was just wondering if you had any thoughts on how much earrings contribute to an outfit or someone's style. For example, I notice that with many of my fashion idols, like say Alexa Chung or the Olsen twins, or models in photoshoots, they usually don't wear earrings. Is there a particular reason for this, or a general rule as to when/how one should wear earrings? —Connie

Wow, what a great question. I could easily write a book on this topic! Well, not really, but my point is that this is a very thought-provoking question. The simplest answer I can give is that one's approach to wearing certain types of jewelry, such as earrings, may historically have depended on many social and cultural factors, but today's woman can choose to do whatever she wants. No rules.

But if you want to talk rules, generally speaking, small earrings such as pearl or diamond studs are considered conservative, classy and chic. These can be worn every day for work or play, casual or formal occasions. However, that's not to say that big earrings can't be a part of a stylish woman's repertoire. On the contrary. As with any style element, it's how you wear something. Choose your earrings carefully and thoughtfully, rather than as an afterthought. Look for unique, artfully designed earrings if you're looking to up your style quotient. Consider the shape of your face, your hair cut and the rest of your outfit.

My personal approach to earrings has changed over the years, but ever since my boyfriend gifted me with diamond studs a few years ago, that's what I've been wearing every day. Interpret as you wish. When I dress up, especially for formal events like weddings, I love wearing fabulous oversized earrings. The bigger the better!

Regarding the actual process of getting your ears pierced, it hurts but the pain quickly subsides. As long as you go to a reputable, clean ear piercer (?) and take care to follow all the post-piercing protocols (clean the lobes a few times each day and gently rotate the studs), you shouldn't have any problems. Resist the urge to try new earrings until your holes have completely healed. I got my ears pierced when I was in grade school at this place called The Earring Tree at the Brickyard Mall in Chicago. You never forget it! I'm glad I did it, since it gives me the option to wear earrings should I choose to.

What are your thoughts on earrings? What advice would YOU share with Connie?

Interesting post and great topic! Very unique. Can I ask where he got your diamond studs? We are in the market! Hehe..
#1 Jessaminute on 2010-01-11 17:48 (Reply)
Just make sure you wear good posts. I have mine done 3 times and when I was younger they would get infected because I didn't wear good earrings. Just keep them clean.
#2 Tracie on 2010-01-11 18:48 (Reply)
I started wearing earrings on a regular basis when an aunt gave me a pair of white gold + diamond earrings. Unfortunately I lost one but stayed in the habit, and now I wear earrings every single day. At this point I feel naked without them. But I also have super-short hair so my ears are always exposed. If I had longer hair I might feel differently.
#3 The FashionistaLab (Homepage) on 2010-01-11 19:01 (Reply)
I think that whether you have ongoing itchy ear/infection issues might be hereditary. Some people can wear anything in their piercings and others can't wear anything but solid gold posts. You won't know which category you're in until you do it!

If it turns out that it's too irritating, you can take them out and the holes will just close back up.

Take care of the piercings by keeping the area clean and following the after-care instructions and you should be just fine. They'll likely be red, a bit sore and may even get slightly crusty, but that will clear up pretty quickly. If they get very sore, bright red or leak pus, get thee to a doctor!

Most ear piercing places use special guns into which sterile starter studs are dropped - usually without anyone ever actually touching them.

It's very safe. I love having the option to wear earrings!
#4 Jenny_B (Homepage) on 2010-01-11 19:24 (Reply)
Nice post and great reasoning, Dianna!

I am a fashion stylist with a short blonde pixie haircut. The last time I wore earrings was on my wedding day thirteen days ago. Earrings are just not part of my style anymore. I totally outgrew the look. I wear specs daily and sport necklaces and belts instead. There isn’t enough room for earrings too. I’m very small framed and wear statement pieces that “take up room on the canvas” if you know what I mean.

That being said, I’ve had my ears pierced since I was five years old. I had a Eurasian Mother and it’s part of Asian culture to have your ears pierced when you’re very young. So I’ve had my fun with pierced ears! Personally, it was time to move on.
#5 angie (Homepage) on 2010-01-11 19:47 (Reply)
If you think you want to wear earrings keep in mind that most earrings sold today are for pierced ears. The ones for pierced ears are more comfortable than old style clips IMHO.

Be careful and follow the instructions if you get them done. Healing time can really vary and definitely err on the side of waiting a bit longer before changing earrings.

Another option btw is to find a reputable licensed piercing salon. I may head to one to get one redone because when I got it pierced ages agoat a mall store they did one a bit crooked - not straight through and it's a pain to put things in now.
#6 m on 2010-01-11 20:32 (Reply)
I waited 22 years to get my ears pierced, and was so thankful that I did! Those clip on, magnetic, and spring-loaded ones hurt sooo much! Pierced ones go right in without leaving my ears red and in pain.
#7 K (Homepage) on 2010-01-11 21:54 (Reply)
here's a little personal experience
I recently got my ears pierced and unfortunately the piercer did not recommend me to get a nickel-free earring..
Later it started turning red and getting a bit swollen. I took it out once after I had gotten it pierced just a few days before because I was afraid it was getting badly infected inside... only took it out for about five ish minutes to clean and it closed up!! (Crazy right? I called to ask and the lady said it closes up that fast!) Turns out I was probably allergic to nickel, though I'm not even sure yet. I did show those symptoms. I haven't gotten it repierced since but I am dying to because I loved the look of the diamond studs!! But it might be a while, I don't know if I want to go through any more hassles with that again
#8 AL on 2010-01-11 22:10 (Reply)
Definitely, if you can, go to a real piercer. You will often find them at tattoo shops.

When I was young (way back in the day) you always went to the mall, and they used a gun and put in some gold-plated babies. A real piercer will use a needle, which is much easier to truly sterilize than a gun, and he/she will put in something with limited risk of triggering infection, like stainless steel.

Good luck!
#9 EmilyKennedy (Homepage) on 2010-01-11 22:34 (Reply)
Being an earring addict...I've never regretted piercing mine. My belly button...that's another story. Ah ha ha
#10 Kristin (Homepage) on 2010-01-11 22:56 (Reply)
And if you're super worried... you can always go to your local ENT. That's what we did for my little girl. I didn't like the idea of some kid piercing her ears. And yes, I know, she probably would have been fine. It was strictly done to ease my mind. And the best part yet... they were able to numb her ears so she didn't feel a thing!
#11 Erin on 2010-01-11 23:24 (Reply)
I have this weird personal rule that if I wear earrings, I don't wear a necklace and vice versa.

Be careful where the hole is placed if and when you do decide to get your ears pierced. I like big earrings but I have to be careful about the weight of the jewelry or my ears will ache. By getting the correct placement in the earlobe, you may be able to wear a heavier earring.

Like others on this posting, I agree you should go to a professional piercer. Steer clear of the piercing guns!
#12 sarah on 2010-01-12 09:00 (Reply)
Loads of valuable information in these comments! Love it.

Jessaminute: He got them at Tiffany & Co. My first blue box. He's a keeper.

m and k: Definitely more options out there for people with pierced ears. And clip-ons can be quite painful, I have some vintage styles that really pinch.

AL: Sorry to hear about your experience, but thanks for pointing out the dangers of nickel allergies. As other readers have said, it's probably best to get ears pierced with something nickel-free to avoid metal allergies. You can read more about that here:

EmilyKennedy and Erin: Great advice re: the pro piercers or ENT. Better safe than sorry!

Some of my friends including my sister pierced their OWN ears! OUCH.

sarah: I've been wearing studs so long I forgot about the weight issue. I think you have to build up to heavier styles gradually. Right now I don't think my ears could handle anything too heavy, esp. for extended periods of time.
#12.1 The Budget Babe on 2010-01-12 09:25 (Reply)
I’ve had my ears pierced since I was 11 and can’t imagine not having the option to wear earrings. There are definitely days when a giant necklace is the only jewelry I feel I need, but most days earrings add that extra sparkle or pop to my outfits. They’re especially important since my hair is so big and thick.

And I agree with your assertions that, with a pro doing the piercing and proper care in the aftermath, infection shouldn’t be a concern!
#13 Sally (Homepage) on 2010-01-12 09:44 (Reply)
Great post! My ears were pierced as a baby, so I don't remember the pain. But I love wearing earrings. And like the Budget Babe, I have a pair of small diamond hoops that I wear practically everyday. On days that I go without earrings, I feel a little less done up. But that's just me :-)
#14 Maddy (Homepage) on 2010-01-12 10:14 (Reply)
I got my ears pierced at the mall when I was in junior high and although I'm a big fan of earrings (and wear them almost every day), I like smaller earrings and I definitely have found I'm allergic to nickel and other metals used in some jewelry. A little trial and error is all it takes to figure out if you're somewhat sensitive (I just have to avoid really cheap earrings) or super-sensitive and have to stick to gold posts.

I have a related question that maybe someone here can answer. When I was in high school, I caught an earring on a sweater I was pulling over my head and slightly tore one of my earlobe piercings. Though it hurt when it happened, it's healed up and feels fine but that one hole now looks like a slit, which looks awful when I wear larger/heavier earrings. Is there some way to get this fixed? It seems like there should be...
#15 Kaija on 2010-01-12 11:19 (Reply)
I waited until college about 11 years ago to get my ears pierced (I'm afraid of pain), and as soon as the holes healed I realized just how many more options for accessorizing were now available to me. I wore glasses at the time, so anything to draw attention away from them was a good thing, too. Mine were done at a mall earring kiosk, like so many others. Unfortunately, because I don't like pain, I forgot to breathe after the piercing was done and pretty immediately fainted as soon as I left the chair. Seriously embarrassing. I wear earrings every day now, and feel naked if I happen to forget them. Tend to wear the same pair most days of the week, but I love switching things up. I definitely recommend getting it done, and if you wear necklaces or bracelets or any other kind of jewelry, odds are any metal allergies would have cropped up by now.
#16 Selene on 2010-01-12 11:56 (Reply)
I remember getting my ears pierced in fourth grade - it honestly didn't hurt IMO & felt like a tight pinch to the ears.

Although they force you to buy a pair of their earrings, I highly recommend Claire's.
#17 Justine on 2010-01-13 01:01 (Reply)
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