Fashion Women's Fashion

Have We Reached Peak Shell? You Tell Me

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I still remember when the shell trend first piqued my interest. Back in May of last year, my colleague Lauren (whom I sit directly next to) wrote about how shell jewelry was the bubbling trend about to break. I paid no mind at the time—even though, of course, she was right—because shells weren’t quite speaking to me yet. I simply didn’t have that need-to-own feeling like I do about a lot of other fashion items on my radar. That was, of course, until they really started to appear all over my Instagram feed shortly thereafter. The trend (still in jewelry form) hit its stride right around August—just as Lauren had predicted. 

At that point, if an influencer didn’t have a shell on their Instagram feed, they couldn’t really call themselves an influencer. After all—even I had one—a Wald Berlin necklace that seems to only increase in relevancy as the months pass. Even then, however, the brands designing them and people wearing (and talking about) shells were restricted to our little fashion industry bubble, with occasional exceptions here and there. We thought the trend blew up, but we had no idea. 

Which brings us to today. As we approach the spring season, and spring fashion has finally gotten into full swing—with collections almost done hitting in stores—I pose the question: Have we reached peak shell? If this sounds a little out of left field, let me explain.

The souvenir-inspired trend has gone well beyond a niche jewelry adornment loved by influencers and fashion insiders to a full-blown mega-craze. They don’t just appear on jewelry anymore but have now expanded to bags, shoes, hair accessories, clothing, and more. It’s not just under-the-radar indie brands selling them; it’s everyone from Altuzarra and Alexander McQueen to Zara and Mango. The trend includes real-life shells, shell prints, and shell embroidery. 

Where I’m going with all of this is if you’re thinking of hopping on the bandwagon, the time is now. To see some shell pieces I’m loving right now (all 27 of them), just keep scrolling. 

There’s a lot to love here.
Not going to lie, I’m this close to buying this bag.
I implore you to wear these all at once.
Aptly named, I would say.
Shashi is one of our go-to brands for affordable jewelry trends.
I think this is what people would call a vibe.
Festive, but still approachable.
Tackle two trends in one with these shell and pearl earrings.
I ordered this before I even noticed the shells and now I’m even more excited.
Well-played, Zara.
A lesson in layering.
A subtle approach you can wear every day this summer.
If the idea of a nude bikini scares you, don’t worry, it also comes in black. And don’t forget the high-waist bottom for $98.
This was one of the first shell necklaces to appear all over Instagram.
This is essential to my summer travel look.
An eveningwear-inspired approach.
Classic and trendy at the same time.
Might need to copy this shell belt and blazer idea.
Leave it to Gucci to take it a (few) steps further.
Your airport look just got an upgrade.
Leandra Medine knows what’s up.
Pearls and shells are proving to be a winning combo.
You might not need a vacation clutch—but isn’t this making you want one?
I like the edginess of this.
Anyone invited to a beachside soirée?
Belt all your spring and summer dresses with this.
At this price, there’s no excuse not to try it out.

Up next? The 23 coolest under-$100 finds our editors have seen this month.

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