Dress and fur clips first appeared in the 1920s, when the concept of costume jewelry was taking the world by storm. Before then, only royalty and celebrities had access to opulent, ostentatious fine jewelry bedecked with precious stones like diamonds and emeralds, and so most women's adornment was subtle and tasteful.

But in the Roaring Twenties, Coco Chanel introduced the idea of wearing less-expensive costume jewelry as art, as opposed to wearing fine jewelry to indicate status and wealth. Jewelry then became a subject of experimentation as designers created all sorts of large, bold, and inventive pieces for women looking to spice up plain or neutral items of clothing.

Similar to brooches and pins, dress and fur clips were worn fastened to dresses, furs, and other items of clothing, often to accentuate an alluring detail such as a well-cut lapel or deep neckline. They were made out of the same materials as brooches—sterling silver, bronze, rhinestones, enamels, and plastics like Bakelite—and in similar styles, from Art Deco geometric patterns to floral and figural designs.

Eisenberg Originals, which started out as a clothing company in 1914, came up with the idea of embellishing dresses and sweaters by sewing in large, glimmering Swarovski crystals. But the rhinestones were so tantalizing, especially in the aftermath of the Great Stock Market Crash of 1929, they were ripped off of the clothing in department stores. That's why, in the 1930s, Eisenberg launched its own line of jewelry, mostly brooches and dress and fur clips in clear high-quality diamante.

Fine jewelry and wristwatch designer Louis Cartier came up with the concept of the double dress clip, which he patented in 1927, a clever device that let two twin clips attach to each other and worn as one brooch. The pieces could also be worn separately as matching dress clips, for example, on either side of a neckline. This versatile design, known as "clip-pins," was such a huge success that in the 1930s, fashion jeweler Coro premiered its own double clip called the Coro Duette.

Trifari also made its own popular spin on the concept, which were known as Clip-Mates. Collectors should note that sellers will often mislabel Clip-Mates as Duettes. Eisenberg, Miriam Haskell, Leo Glass, Fred Block, Mazer, Boucher, Nettie Rosenstein, Hattie Carnegie, and Vogue all made their own versions of clip-pins.

Early Coro pieces were usually Art Deco style with pavé-set clear rhinestones. But the company’s biggest hit was its figural Duettes, which were shaped like flowers, animals, and human characters, decorated with brightly colored enameling and crystal rhinestones, and often sold with matching earrings. Especially popular with collectors are more complicated pieces such as the “Quivering Camelias” Duette, which features trembler flowers on springs...

Worn well into the 1950s, vintage clips seemed to embody the whimsical and creative spirit of costume jewelry, as they could be worn in myriad ways. They could be attached to collars and labels, worn near the throat or off to the side, or placed between cleavage. A matching set might be attached to either side of a sweetheart neckline, or to the breast pockets of a jacket. They could be used to hold a scarf in place, or gather the folds of a Grecian-style goddess dress.

Clips were also attached to ribbons to make elegant chokers and necklaces, and one or more could be used to compliment a rhinestone belt buckle or add whimsy to a plain leather belt. Clips were used on clutches and purses to dress them up for an evening out on the town, while shoe clips gave plain pumps a bit of glitz. They even adorned cloche hats and berets. Glamorous celebrities like Joan Crawford, Hedy Lamarr, Esther Williams, Lana Turner, Betty Grable, Ginger Rogers, and Barbara Stanwick often led the way, employing clips in new and interesting ways in their fabulous ensembles.

While many people nowadays use the terms "dress clip" and "fur clip" interchangeably, they are actually distinguished by very different clipping mechanisms. Fur clips, also known as "double-pronged clips" or "pin clips," were long, with a back mechanism featuring two sharp prongs attached to a spring. This design let them pierce the fur without wreaking havoc on it. Fur clips were often adorned with rhinestones or semi-precious stones, or metalwork like repoussé. Coro, Eisenberg, Trifari, Boucher, and Kenneth Lane made fur clips that are among the most coveted  today.

Dress clips, on the other had, have a wider and shorter clasp, whose teeth are meant to cling to thinner dress or shirt material. Miriam Haskell, Trifari, Coro, Eisenberg, and Hattie Carnegie were all known for their dress clips. Scarf clips, meanwhile, have stronger hinges but no teeth, while shoe clips are also specialized.

The most valuable dress clips are the ones that come in pairs like the Coro Duettes and the Trifari Clip-Mates. Clip-pin devices that incorporate more than two dress clips are particularly rare. Vintage fur clips with clear stones and high-quality metal finishes are also collectible. Scarf and shoe clips are more common and less valuable, but ones by designers such as Musi are worth collecting.

About our sources | Got something to add?

▼ Expand to read the full article ▼

Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

Researching Costume Jewelry

Researching Costume Jewelry

Jewelry lovers, venture through this amazing database of vintage jewelry articles, catalogs, and brochures, as well… [read review or visit site]

Emerald City Vintage Costume Jewelry

Emerald City Vintage Costume Jewelry

It looks like we're not in Kansas anymore with Elizabeth Rowlands' site on vintage costume jewelry from the 1940s a… [read review or visit site]

Morning Glory Antiques and Jewelry

Morning Glory Antiques and Jewelry

Jewelry collectors, feast your eyes on this internet gem! It's a goldmine of jewelry information featuring all styl… [read review or visit site]

All About Jewels Dictionary

All About Jewels Dictionary

This incredible reference dictionary on jewelry, from Enchantedlearning.com, is both beautiful and comprehensive. S… [read review or visit site]

Cathy Gordon's Jewelry Gallery

Cathy Gordon's Jewelry Gallery

With its vast galleries featuring clear images of jewelry and style, this site really covers it all! Divided up by … [read review or visit site]



Clubs & Associations

Most watched eBay auctions    

Special Crown Trifari Rhinestone, Blue Enamel & Strand Of Pearls Dress ClipVintage Coro Craft Enamel & Rhinestone Trembler Dress Or Fur Clip / BroochAntique Chinese Sterling Silver Enamel Carved Green White Jade Dress ClipAmerica Girl Mckenna Fancy Outfit Dress, Hair Clip & ShoesGorgeous Vtg Coro Enamel & Rhinestone Bird Of Paradise Dress Or Fur ClipVintage Coro Duette Double Flower Brooch Dress Clip W/ Red Enamel, RhinestonesLot Vintage 1940 Art Deco Rhinestone Brooch/dress Clip/bracelet~repair/craft Yqz1940's Corocraft Sterling Enamel & Rhinestone Parrot Bird Branch Fur Clip PinVintage Antique Art Deco 30s Rhinestone Crystal Duette Fur Dress Clip Pin BroochVtg 1945 Sterling Trifari Pat Pending Fur Clip Patent Book Pc Heavy Some WearMagiclip Merida Brave Disney Princess Irish Doll 2 Dress Magi Magic Clip Set 1940s Crown Trifari Blue Lily Of The Valley Enamel Rhinestone Dress Fur Clip Vintage Art Deco Jewellery Diamante/paste Hair / Dress Clip (i) Vintage Art Deco Double Fur Clip/brooch By Ciro In Original Celluloid BoxMagiclip Sleeping Beauty Aurora Disney Princess Magi Magic Clip Doll 2 Dress SetAmerica Girl Mckenna Fancy Outfit Dress, Hair Clip & ShoesVintage Art Deco Sparkling Graduating Spiral Rhinestone Hair Comb Dress ClipIconic Art Deco Trifari Ruby Cabochon & Diamante Paste Dress Clip - Pat# 107129Beautiful Antique Ornate Dragon Sterling Silver 925 Art Nouveau Scarf Dress ClipAntique/vintage Art Deco Rhinestone Pot Metal Dress Clip Marked Made In UsaWonderful Vintage 1940s Staret Red & Clear Rhinestone Dress Or Fur ClipSuperb Antique Early 20th C Chinese Silver Enamel Dress Clip Vintage Art Deco Jewellery Diamante/paste Dress Clip (g) Antique Emerald Rhinestone Dress ClipEisenberg Original Fur Clip Or Brooch Purple And Red With Rhinestones1870 Sterling Silver Chatelaine Dress Belt Clip Hand Hammered Albert Coles NycFine Antique Old Chinese Silver Enamel Sweater Fur Clip Urn PinArt Deco Rhinestone Pot Metal Fur/dress Clip!Antique Blue Turquoise Lapis French Repousse Fur/scarf Sterling Clip Vtg BroochAntique Vintage Costume Jewelry Eisenberg Original Signed Fur Clip BroochSparkly Vintage Art Deco Fur/dress Clip! 30's-40'sLovely Vintage Gold Gilt Amethyst Rhinestone Cabochon Fur/dress ClipBeautiful Antique Art Deco Glittering Diamond Paste Stones Set Dress Clip/broochBeautiful Solid .925 Sterling Silver *japanese Writing* Fur / Scarf / Dress ClipVintage Art Deco Repair Craft Lot Clear Rhinestone Dress Shoe Clip Pair BuckleSparkly Vintage Rhinestone Fur/dress Clip! 30's-40'sSparkly Art Deco Rhinestone Fur/dress Clip! Pot Metal 30's-40'sStunning Vintage Signed Little Nemo Fruit Salad Rhinestone Dress Clip!!! 667e12 Pcs Dress Up Beauteous Spiral Spin Screw Design Pin Hair Clip Twist BarretteVtg Signed Czech Art Deco Blue Satin Glass Cab Ornate Flower Bracelet Dress ClipTrifari Philippe Fur Clip Rare Jelly Belly Spider Insect Sterling Gold Wash L145Antique Victorian Rhinestone Enamel Bakelite Shoe Clip & Dress Clip LotLot Of 4 Vintage Antique Fur Dress Scarf Clip Silvertones And Clear RhinestonesVintage Cherry Red Carved Bakelite Dress ClipNwt Gymboree Girl 4t Bright Tulip Navy Blue Pink Flower Dot Hair Clip Dress CuteAmazing Detailed Vintage Large Half Moon Rhinestone Red Dress Fir Clip DecoVintage Fur Clip Shoe Clip John Hardy Silver Tone Large Filigree Textured Butterfly Hair Dress Scarf ClipVintage Art Deco Repair Craft Lot Flower Fur Clip Brooch Bird Rhinestone AccentVtg Coffee Cup Earrings Enameled/sterling Posts & Antique Dress/scarf/hat ClipAntique Lg Multi Amethyst Oval Table Top Faceted Stone Design Dress Pocket ClipVintage Faux Turquoise Sweater Dress Clip Guard Pin Silver Plate Eyeglass HolderArt Nouveau Antique Crystal Paste Stone Floral Bow Pot Metal Cast Dress ClipAntique Pot Metal Cast Art Nouveau Crystal Rhinestone Elongated Dress ClipWhite Cosplay Party's Cat Fox Long Fur Ears Anime Neko Costume Hair ClipVintage Antique Art Deco 30's Czech Silver Tone Filigree Blue Crystal Dress ClipStunning Antique Estate Blue Rhinestone Flower Leaf Dress Clip!!! 675tCrown Trifari Trembler Fur Pin/clip 1939 - Rhinestone, By Alfred PhilippeAntique Carved Victorian Dress Clip Was Used As A PendantLarge Rhinestone Swirl Dress Clip