39 In Style

How to wear chokers, 20 years later

chokers and sequin dress

I’ve been looking for a reason to write a post about chokers.  In the 90’s when they were all the rage I had a whole collection of them.  I had a velvet one with a crystal clasp that was supposed to be a cat collar.  I had a spangly multicoloured one that looked like part of a Bollywood outfit.  I had a red raw silk one with tiny embroidered shapes and mirrored pieces woven into it.  My two favourites which I wore the most were little leather flower chokers that I picked up from a street vendor in Barcelona when I was 24.  The black one pictured above if I was wearing black (which was most of the time in those days) and a multicoloured one with anything that wasn’t black.  I took these two beloved leather flower ones with me to the States on my recent trip there with the intention of doing a blog post on them.  I didn’t take any photos though because I managed to get an annoying long-lasting eye infection.  Then my son got bronchitis.  Then I got bronchitis, so I never did the post.  I assumed the trend would be over before I got a chance to write about it!

Out of the blue, my blog friend Sheela asked if I’d like to participate in a group post about chokers.  I didn’t think I’d be over my bronchitis in time to participate, but on an unbearably hot and humid night in London, I asked my husband to take a few quick photos.  We were on our way out to dinner on my first day out of bed after a week of a chest infection.   So, apologies for looking so ragged!  It was so hot I couldn’t face styling my hair, so up it went into a twist.  I wore my loosest black dress for maximum ventilation.  I added a very 1990’s nude brown lip and a bit of mascara, and I was out the door.   With a fever, a heat wave, and feeling fragile, I wasn’t going to manage much else.

The dress is 4 or 5 years old from All Saints, and weighs a ton.  For each matte sequin, there is a glass bead stitched underneath it, to hold it just slightly aloft.  When I walk it makes a satisfying rustling noise, like a porcupine with its hollow quills knocking against each other.  I like the effect!  The dress is so loose and slouchy that it doesn’t photograph very well in a static picture, but it looks great in person with some movement.

slouchy black sequins with chokers

chokers jasmine wall

choker slider

Now to the choker… my beloved choker. This is one of my most treasured pieces of ‘jewellery’ because it is something I bought on one of the most magical days in my life.  I had been a week by myself in Barcelona, meeting up occasionally with a few new friends, and doing what everyone does in Barcelona – Park Guell, Sagrada Familia, Las Ramblas, La Boqueria, the beaches, paella, etc.  I can remember walking around the city, feeling a mixture of emotions.  Grateful to be on holiday by myself after recently quitting a very stressful job, excited by the novelty of a new place, fretful about when I’d run out of money, exhausted from the heat, anxious about my future, and a little withdrawn, as is the case when you travel by yourself with no one to distract you with conversation.  On this dusty hot afternoon, I wandered off the street and into a large shady courtyard for a rest.  I sat down on some stone steps leading up to a church to watch the activity in this enclosed square and finish a bottle of water.  After a minute or two, a man sitting on a chair against the far wall began playing his guitar, a traditional wistful Spanish piece.  In an instant, I was swept away by it.  The music seemed to reflect the entire complicated kaleidoscope of everything I was feeling that day.  The excitement, the wistfulness, the anxiety, the joy, the fear and worry, it was ALL there in the meditative music swirling out of the instrument.  I felt paralysed.  I didn’t even want to breathe for fear of breaking the trance.  I felt as if the guitar music and I were made of exactly the same stuff.  I was aware that time was not moving, it was utterly still, and so was I.  I was as timeless as the ancient stone in that courtyard. When I was finally able to move again, I saw a man in the square selling leather jewellery and belts from a small wooden cart.  I went over to have a look and bought these two inexpensive chokers.  Twenty years later, they still remind me of the magic of my Spanish guitar trance.

I have bought countless versions of Spanish and Flamenco guitar music over the years hoping to scream THAT’S IT! THAT’S IT! in recognition of that exact piece of music, but it hasn’t happened yet.  I do find music that has traces of that bewitching piece, and I’m grateful to time-travel back to that moment in time. For just a second, I can feel the heat, I can smell the dry dust, and I can feel that overwhelming kaleidoscope of feelings all over again.

Here’s a guitar piece that reminds me a little of what I experienced.  Have you ever experienced anything like this?


Here are some other ladies putting their style spin on the choker in Sheela’s round up:

sheela goh choker

Sheela Goh- All Choked Up

fashion fairy dust choker

Fashion Fairy Dust- Princesses and Rebels


The World According to Eve- Won’t Choke Under Pressure

chokers post

Shelbee On The Edge- Don’t let the feelings choke you

Linking to: thefabjourney, highlatitudestyle, fashionshouldbefun, notdeadyetstyle, notdressedaslamb, honestmum, 40plusstyle




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  • Reply
    Shelbee on the Edge
    August 31, 2016 at 3:27 PM

    Lisa, I literally was transported to Barcelona 20 some years ago with you. What a beautiful picture you painted with your words. And how do you look so fabulous just minutes after dragging your illness-stricken body from bed?! I am loving this sequined dress and can hear the porcupine shuffle sound that it makes. How glorious! And this choker is just everything especially since it tells such a bewitching and magnificent story of you!

    I am so happy to hear that you are finally on the mend from such a brutal attack of nasty germs!

    This was such a fun collaboration to do! I look forward to many more collaborative blogging efforts with fabulous women such as yourself!


    • Reply
      August 31, 2016 at 3:33 PM

      Thank you, sweet Shelbee! I’m so pleased you enjoyed reading the post. I’m off to read yours as soon as I fix some technical glitch happening with my blog right now, argh! xx

      • Reply
        No Fear of Fashion
        September 2, 2016 at 9:25 PM

        I couldn’t say it anything better than Shelbee did. My thoughts exactly.

        • Reply
          September 2, 2016 at 9:37 PM

          Thanks so much, Greetje, you’re a darling! xx

  • Reply
    August 31, 2016 at 5:06 PM

    Lisa, if that is you ‘ragged’, then I personally give up! You look beautiful, – I’m sat at home smothered in Zovirax as I seem to have developed a crop of cold sores feeling quite sorry for myself. I take a peep at your blog and there you are, flawless.

    I enjoyed your New York post too, you really must write that book. X

    • Reply
      August 31, 2016 at 5:19 PM

      OH gosh, thank you so much Marianne! I certainly feel far from flawless here, maybe I just know how rubbish I felt. It thrills me that you enjoyed the New York post too. Thank you again for your kind comments; I hope your cold sores heal quickly. xx

  • Reply
    Stella Asteria
    August 31, 2016 at 6:07 PM

    I came right away from instagram to check out this beautiful choker and look, and I found myself closing my eyes and mind-travelling to Barcelona! Your writing is just as great as your looks and sense of style Lisa! This choker is adorable and looks like brand new! I am glad you and your son feel better now, bronchitis is awful! However even though you just recovered, you are glowing!! 😀
    Thank you for sharing your style and story, and this post with chokers, all ladies look so gorgeous!
    Wishing you a great month of September!

    • Reply
      August 31, 2016 at 10:29 PM

      Thank you, Miss Stella! I’m glad you enjoyed reading the post and that you liked the styling. Happy September to you, my Mykonos bunny! xx

  • Reply
    August 31, 2016 at 11:29 PM

    I often buy a piece of jewelry on vacation, and I love how looking at it, holding it, and wearing it can bring me back years or even decades. And music can do that even more so. I loved reading the story behind your choker.

    You look great! I would have never know that you’d been sick! I hope you’ll be all better soon!

    Andrea’s Wellness Notes

    • Reply
      September 1, 2016 at 7:21 AM

      You’re so right, music (and definitely scent!) can really trigger powerful memories, can’t they? Thank you for reading, Andrea, I’m glad you enjoyed it. xx

  • Reply
    Suzy Turner
    September 1, 2016 at 2:21 PM

    I’ve LOVED chokers since the 90s too! I had a whole host of them – my favourite was actually made of plastic lol, but it looked totally cool (of course!). Love love love Spanish guitar so really enjoyed reading your tale. Wonderful!
    Suzy xx
    P.S You don’t look the least bit ragged at all. You look gorgeous!! <3

    • Reply
      September 1, 2016 at 2:33 PM

      Thank you Suzy; I think I’m the only one who sees who truly awful I feel in these pictures 😀 xx

  • Reply
    September 1, 2016 at 5:04 PM

    Poor you! I hope you feel better now. I’m with Marianne, if this is you ‘ragged’ then … You look absolutely gorgeous and yes, I used to have a thing for chokers too. Lots of love! xx Abby

    • Reply
      September 1, 2016 at 10:20 PM

      Thank you, darling Abby. Lots of love back to you, I hope I can come see you soon! xx

  • Reply
    September 2, 2016 at 4:40 AM

    Thanks for linking up to Top of the World Style. That choker look works well on you.

    • Reply
      September 2, 2016 at 7:51 AM

      Thanks so much, nicole! xx

  • Reply
    September 2, 2016 at 12:10 PM

    Pah ragged indeed! You are luminous Lisa – Actually that is your new name, Luminous Lisa 😉
    I am completely with you on traveling solo, being able to escape reality, re-inventing myself momentarily for every clandestine encounter… Oh wait I’m married with 3 kids now, whoops almost forgot. I was off in a daydream listening to that music.

    • Reply
      September 2, 2016 at 2:20 PM

      Oh goodness, thank you Michelle. Haha, our solo travelling will have to wait just a little while, methinks… xx

  • Reply
    September 2, 2016 at 4:27 PM

    Love chokers and you wear them so well. I’m actually dead chuffed they are cool again though I think I’ll wear mine even when they are not!
    Loved your description of your time in Barcelona. Thankyou as always for sharing xx

    • Reply
      September 2, 2016 at 6:55 PM

      Thanks Tracey; I agree, I’ll wear them whether they’re in style or not! I’m glad you enjoyed reading! xx

  • Reply
    September 2, 2016 at 5:10 PM

    Lisa–I read your post and thought again how well you write and how lovely and specific your meditations on style and personal history meld–and then I was (per usual) inspired to go upstairs and see if one of my own accessories with a specific time and place was still tucked in its drawer. It was. I’m wearing it now. And I’m smiling. And perhaps thinking of sequined porcupines and wistful guitar too. xxoo

    • Reply
      September 2, 2016 at 6:57 PM

      That makes me so happy to read, Mindy. I’m glad you have one of your own time-travel accessories… everyone needs to have one or two. xx

  • Reply
    jess jannenga
    September 2, 2016 at 5:34 PM

    How wonderful Lisa. Love the shimmery dress and of course the choker with the little tiny flowers. Ah, brings back memories! I had worn chokers all in the 90s and loved them then too. I love when a piece of clothing, jewelry etc. conjures a memory, for you, the music. I studied Guitar Performance at Duquesne University, at first classical, a Spanish guitarist, Andres segovia..Music truly can transport you. Enjoyed your post.
    Thanks for linking up with My refined Style
    jess xx

    • Reply
      September 2, 2016 at 6:59 PM

      Thank you, Jess. Wow, look at you studying guitar! That’s so impressive. Maybe we’ll all be wearing chokers when they come back officially for a third time :-D. Thank you for hosting. xx

  • Reply
    Jaymie Ashcraft
    September 3, 2016 at 12:14 AM

    Love this!! I’ve not worn a choker in forever!!
    Fridays Fashions link up

    • Reply
      September 3, 2016 at 7:41 AM

      Thanks Jaymie; dig one out! xx

  • Reply
    Mithra Ballesteros
    September 3, 2016 at 2:06 PM

    My favorite moment in your charming confessional post is that you’re still searching for that music. Made me cry for some reason.

    • Reply
      September 3, 2016 at 2:36 PM

      I am, and I WILL find it one day! I wish it hadn’t of happened in the days before mobile phone technology, because I could have recorded it xx

  • Reply
    Debbie Stinedurf
    September 4, 2016 at 1:49 PM

    What an incredibly beautiful story Lisa and so well written, it was almost like being right there. Music is such a powerful thing and while it’s sad you still haven’t found the piece, I love the fact that you have the chokers to remind you of all of it.
    Honestly, looking at the photos I would have never known you had been so under the weather. I’m glad you’re feeling better! I love the dress, I can tell it’s beautiful in motion, and what I love even more is the juxtaposition of the leather choker and the sequined dress!
    This collaboration was great…I enjoyed working with all of you lovelies! 🙂

    • Reply
      September 4, 2016 at 3:06 PM

      Thank you so much for your comment and thoughts, Debbie. I’m so pleased you can’t tell how I feel in these photos! One day, I’ll find that piece of music, I just know it. xx

  • Reply
    September 4, 2016 at 10:19 PM

    What a gorgeous dress, and the chokers look fab on all these beautiful women! xox


    • Reply
      September 4, 2016 at 10:38 PM

      Thank you, Patti! xx

  • Reply
    September 5, 2016 at 9:41 PM

    Lovely piece, I love a choker, and I’ve just recently bought a cheapie one from a local shop. Nice to link up with you. Looking forward to reading more. x Jacqui

    • Reply
      September 6, 2016 at 8:20 PM

      Thank you Jacqui! xx

  • Reply
    Anna Parkes
    September 13, 2016 at 9:12 PM

    Hi Lisa, thanks for sharing this lovely story about your choker and the beautiful, hypnotic guitar playing. I do love to have a memory attached to a piece – it somehow adds to the value. You look pretty stunning to say that you’re not well in those photos. A true professional! The dress is gorgeous and you can tell it’s a weighty piece by the way it hangs. I do love sequins too, and beading as they just have the edge as far as glamour and sparkle. You always look so sleek and stylish. Thanks for super post x

    • Reply
      September 13, 2016 at 9:14 PM

      Thank you, Anna, that is so kind of you to say such nice things! I always enjoy your exploration with colour and style. xx

  • Reply
    Emma Peach
    September 21, 2016 at 9:48 AM

    Sorry to hear you’ve been ill, it certainly doesn’t show in the photos because you look amazing! Your hair up shows off that pretty choker to perfection. How lovely that it holds such special memories. I played classical guitar for years and I’m now trying to pick it up again because my daughter is learning. When played well it’s such a beautiful sound. I love your dress 🙂

    Emma xxx

    • Reply
      September 21, 2016 at 1:22 PM

      Thanks so much, sweet Emma. Wow, how amazing that you played classical guitar. What a beautiful instrument it can be. xx

  • Reply
    Don’t Let the Feelings Choke You – Shelbee On the Edge
    June 8, 2018 at 10:12 AM

    […] Debbie is badass, Lisa (The Sequinist) is all class. So stunning in black […]

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