In the last year, ear accessories have taken off in the fashion world from New York sidewalks to fashion weeks globally. The “curated ear” went mainstream, reaching platforms like Refinery29 and Cosmopolitan in 2018. Spearheading the trending industry of ear piercing are two big names: Brian Kieth Thompson of Body Electric Tattoo in Los Angles and Maria Tash with her own global luxury piercing empire. Their clients range from walk-ins to A-Listers.
The Curated Ear
The curated ear is a collection of piercings placed about, around, and inside of the ear, decorated with jewelry that suits the wholistic look of the composed ear. There is a range of types of piercings in places that go beyond the lobes.
While traditional first holes are common, people often go beyond upper lobe piercings to compose their looks. Typically three or more piercings go into a composed ear.
Personally, I became obsessed with the look over the summer. I began seeing it on my Instagram feed and then seeing it on fashionable people I passed on the streets. However, I come from a family that is conservative with piercings and tattoos, and they were afraid I would be stigmatized by professionals and peers if I strayed from the norm. Multiple piercings were not as common and seen as significantly more rebellious and edgy among Gen X and earlier. Now, I almost see it as a way to play with more jewelry instead of simply putting more holes in my ears.
Still, growing up afraid of the judgment from others, I was scared my conch piercing and doubles would not be received well by those around me. However, so far, the response was overwhelmingly positive. Turns out I was worried for no reason, and as I look around Penn’s campus, I see almost as many girls with multiple piercings as those who didn’t wear earrings or just had their first holes.
By having the piercings I do, I feel that I am able to express myself in a really lowkey and creative way. Accessories can take a look to the next level, and ears truly frame the face in a beautiful way. I see the curated ear as a piercing equivalent of a tattoo sleeve – they are buildable. However, they are more versatile (you can switch the jewelry), they don’t fade, you can remove it, and it is more subtle. It changed my vibe in a really subtle way; I felt that I was able to appear a little more chill, adventurous, ~cool-girl~ edgy, and urban. I plan to get more piercings soon. In the words of Brian Keith Thompson, proprietor of the world famous Body Electric Tattoo in LA, “ears were meant for decorating.”
Inspiration for you
Over the past few weeks, I took some insp-ear-ation from Penn’s campus and Instagram. Here you go!
When talking to Mia Bezar, a freshman on campus, about how piercings have impacted her and her style she responded, “Piercings allowed me to express myself more like not that I felt like I couldn’t express myself before but after getting more piercings I just had more of a medium…to do so and – not going to lie – I feel cool after I get a new piercing, like especially my nose. Now I think it’s just part of me.”
Popular shops for piercings in Philadelphia are Hunter-Gatherer Tattoo and Infinite Body Piercing. Remember to take care of your piercings as they heal and after, to follow the advice of your piercer, and to stay away from piercing guns. Happy curating!