Carola Long: Close study of the slender wrists on display at the shows in Milan and Paris revealed a lot of arm shrapnel

Material World
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Indy Lifestyle Online

All the trend research in the world won't necessarily tell you what's missing from your wardrobe or which trends resonate most. Sometimes it's the instinctive lunchtime dash that offers the most distilled 45 minutes of incredible clarity. So far this season, objects of sartorial sweeps have included a red dress, a dark marbly coloured silky scarf, a skinny belt ... je ne regrette rien; all good buys. The most recent lunchtime epiphany was that no autumn/winter 2010 wrist should be without considerable – nay excessive – "arm furniture" or more specifically, "arm shrapnel". It's a term introduced to me by Lucy at the online jewellers Astley Clarke to describe the trend for layering bangles and bracelets in a jangly sleeve.

Close study of many of the slender wrists on display at the shows in Milan, Paris etc revealed a lot of arm shrapnel in the form of bangles, watches, and even bits of fabric; think Diana Vreeland meets Keith Richards. Astley Clarke has seen increasing sales of their stacking bangles and bracelets; the Astley Clarke Colour Collection, which launched in August has been very popular and the bracelets – in 18ct gold as well as coloured enamel, and adorned with gemstones – are designed for layering up (below, bangles from £75, astleyclarke.com).

Bec Clarke, the founder of the company, believes that the trend has come about because women want to express themselves by wearing lots of different, often personal items at once. If you pair gold, silver, beaded, or enamel bangles with an Hermès Cape Cod watch or a Casio, then no one else is likely to have exactly the same mix. One way of looking at it is that it takes any potential prissiness out of a piece of fine jewellery and gives it a personal twist. It can be the "grown-up gap-year look", especially given the popularity of posh friendship bands, such as Monica Vinader's Fiji bracelet (£95, monicavinader.com) or Astley Clarke's charm bracelets, but it can also be hard and punky. For the latter look take notes from US Elle's style director Kate Lanphear who piles on the chunky silver. The only rule: stack 'em high.

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