Bella Hadid is notorious for her experimental fashion choices, whether that be test-driving the maximalist jewelry trend or wearing barely-there red carpet gowns (in pre-pandemic times). When it comes to styling quirky accessories with her outfits — the model, too, makes that look like child’s play. Hadid shared a bikini photo, which showed her wearing a puka shell belt around her waist on Feb. 17, and it reminded everyone of her fashion prowess. In the throwback snap posted to Instagram, Hadid reminisced about her 24th birthday — she was born on Oct. 9 — and wrote, “Just found these …. This is not how I feel right now but here we are.”
The series of photos, taken back in Oct. 2020, showed the model cruising around on a golf cart while wearing a white bikini from Bikini Lovers, a low-waisted blue sarong, and vintage New Balance sneakers. The scene-stealing elements of her laidback beach look, however, were the accessories. Hadid paired her fresh-out-of-the-water outfit with glitzy gold jewelry like gold Jennifer Fisher bangles and Bvlgari chain necklaces with ruby detailing. The pièce de résistance, however, was a body chain made of tiny cream-colored puka shells. The chain looped around her waist and gave her sea goddess vibes.
Though the idea of styling body chains with swimsuits is not a new phenomenon — past summers saw this trend rise and disappear with the season — Hadid reminded us that ahead of spring/summer 2021 perhaps it’s time to bring back this nostalgic accessorizing moment. After all, 2021 continues to prove that what’s old is new again such as platform heels à la Jennifer Lopez and groufits courtesy of Jennifer Aniston. Puka shells, specifically, harkens back to the the ’90s, where it was in every fashion lover’s jewelry box.
The shells true history, however, can be traced back not to the celebrities who wore them or the runways, but to Hawaii. Puka shells, which can be found all over Hawaii, became popular during the 1960s as an inexpensive lei that could be made and sold on the beaches. Since the shells were naturally pierced, they were able to be strung like beads. The shells were then quickly adopted into the mainstream fashion cycle were it became a trend that slowly dissipated over time. As Hadid showed in her throwback photo though, maybe it’s time to revisit those puka shell pieces in your own jewelry collection before summer arrives. If you rather sit out their sartorial resurgence, there are plenty of other styling options that capture the essence of the belted statement such as a silver or gold body chain. Shop what you need to prep for your warm-weather beach outfit, below.
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