I’ve mentioned before my affinity for clothing sold by Banana Republic back when it sold things that someone might conceivably wear in a banana republic, or perhaps import from one. Lately I’ve rediscovered and been wearing another old skool BR item: my set of ox horn bracelets.
Like so much else in the classic Banana Republic catalogs, the bracelets sounded simultaneously practical and exotic:
English Genuine Ox Horn Bracelets
Fine jewelry, costly and delicate, has a built-in anxiety factor. The alternative, costume jewelry, is not viable to anyone with an aversion to plastic. Hence our happily imperfect trio of natural ox horn bangles. Nearly translucent raw material, from India and Australia, just as the ox grew it. For women who can afford not to wear any jewelry at all.
COLOR: Natural horn
SIZE: S-M, M-L (Approx. 1/4 inch wide)
#7300 Ox Horn Bracelets 3 for $12
From Banana Republic catalog #21, Christmas 1984, p 16. (See image 3 on the Abandoned Republic website jewelry page.)
I obsessed over these bracelets — or rather, their catalog description — for several issues until I finally bought them. I don’t remember when I bought them, but given their low price point I may have made the purchase early in my BR phase.
The three bracelets have slightly different diameters, and I always wear them in the same order — cream, dark, cream — with the biggest one going on first and the smallest, slightly thicker one going on last. In my mind, they fit best this way. It has always troubled me slightly that the striations in the bracelets don’t match up, but then of course how could they? They didn’t even come from the same animal.
I wore my ow horn bangles often, because they were so defiantly not precious, not expensive and not trying to be. They also went with just about any outfit, and made a cheery light clacking whenever one moved, a way of saying “Notice me!” without seeming to care if one was noticed.
For the past few years I haven’t worn bracelets as often. They get in the way of my typing when I work, and clattery bangles like these make too much noise for me to be worn to a play or other theater-based performance.
I notice though that lately I’ve been finding occasions to wear them — going out with friends for drinks, for example, or other times where a little noise and happy imperfection are welcome.