Fashion Mailbag: Where Are All The Cool Belly Button Rings For Women Who Aren’t 18?

If you’ve got a navel piercing you can own it and not look like a child. Here’s how.

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I’m in my late twenties and have my belly button pierced. What are some age appropriate navel rings/barbells? I.e. ones that do not look like they only belong on an 18 year old.

I know as a fashion journalist I’m supposed to have a snobby side in me that makes me say, “You should stitch your bellybutton hole closed and pretend you never got it punched in the first place.” But who would I be kidding? LOTS of us got our navels pierced when we were teenagers, still wear some sort of ring or barbell in there, and basically forget about it until summer rolls around. I know I do. My friends do. And you’re right, that when the mood suddenly strikes you to update your navel jewelry, the stores that specialize in them accost us with shit like this:

Belly rings with actual words like “princess” and other infantilizing terminology.

Or come with dangling cliché objects like flowers.

And the stuff seemingly targeted to older people ends up coming out like this:

This is actually an Etsy find — “find” in the loosest definition of the term.

Pot leaves. (I know it’s 4/20 but UGH.)

Seriously. This is $42.99 on Amazon. And it is not hard to find more penises to dangle from the hole in your stomach.

See? Who is buying this!

Our stomachs are not dictionaries or the top of a bald man’s head. We don’t need words or flowers or penises anything that dangles, period. But if we are pierced and we’re not tired of it, we should own it! After all, those people who scoff at navel piercings are probably the same ones who carry tacky designer designer handbags that are infinitely more noticeable (and grosser, frankly, to a lot of people) than an innocuous navel bauble.

So what to do? Avoid Claire’s, obviously. I found a lot of acceptable and even a few pretty cool options via Google, so don’t bother leaving your couch and subjecting yourself to a pink store full of 11-year-olds with glitter in the carpet. I like simple things, and so have always been a fan of the basic barbell.

You don’t even need a Swarovski crystal, really, but if you want color, the darker ones tend to look more “I have a mortgage” and less “I have a Barbie Dream House.”


And then there is something called the reverse barbell, where the decorative element is at the top instead of the bottom.

This is from a random 2007 blog post and is cool, even though it’s awful. I want it.

Dragon! Again: one of those ironically cool things but could work because it is, thankfully, not sparkly and pastel.

If creatures aren’t your thing, but you want something edgy and cool and different, why not try the old-school, outward-facing style?

An updated hipster version of your basic 90s or early 00s look, which, let’s face it, is still kind of great.

You might not have Britney’s metal half-shirt and pleather pants but you probably have some ironic acid wash bottoms from American Apparel or loud patterned pants that this sort of thing would look totally appropriate with.

Lastly, I would like to urge the fashion industry to put some belly rings on the runway so that finding cool options would be less difficult, and we could get them in the stores we all frequent like Zara and Madewell, etc. You might think that suggestion sounds insane, but remember, over the past few years, designers have brought back Hammer pants and stirrup pants, and made leather shorts, sheer pants, and neon pink jeans popular trends.

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