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How to Wear Man Jewelry

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Men's Image Consulting: How to Wear Man Jewelry

Man jewelry is one of those things that a lot of guys are curious about but are not sure how to (or if they even can) pull off. I get it — it’s so easy to do it wrong, that it’s almost too intimidating to try. Take my long-time client “A,” for example, who works for a management consulting firm. When we first started working together several years ago, every Friday when he came home from the office, he’d put on a colorful beaded necklace. This was his way of marking that the weekend had begun and he was transitioning into hip and relaxed dad mode. Only issue was the necklace looked like one of those candy necklaces kids wear (that’s actually what I thought it was the first time I saw it — oops). Not exactly cool dad material. Even though A didn’t quite execute, I give him props for trying. Fortunately this problem had an easy solution — we ditched the necklace in favor of a more masculine-feeling and subdued combination of bracelets that he looked forward to putting on every weekend and that didn’t make him look like he shopped for accessories at the candy store.

How can you avoid looking like a casualty when it comes to wearing man jewelry? I’ve put together the following 8 basic rules for you to follow so you can get it right the first time, plus a few pix from around the web for inspiration. [Note: for the purposes of this post, I’ll only be addressing casual jewelry — necklaces, bracelets and non-wedding band rings — as that’s what I see guys struggling the most with].

Men's Image Consulting: How to Wear Man Jewelry

  1. The less shiny the better. Shiny jewelry can come off as cheesy, so if you’re thinking of incorporating metal into your jewelry repertoire, go for darker tones and matte finish. Texture within a piece can also reduce shine and make it more wearable. Bottega Veneta and David Yurman make great textured metal pieces (woven, grooved, etc.).
  2. Man jewelry doesn’t have to be metal. Consider pieces made of materials like rope, leather, wood and beads for a durable, earthy look. Think masculine shapes — things like bars, nail heads, hooks, spikes, arrows, anchors, shapes with strong lines and hard angles, and antlers all give off a manly vibe that works well in jewelry.
  3. Bracelets > necklaces. If you’re just dipping your toes in, I highly recommend starting with a bracelet or two, as opposed to a necklace. It’s a more subdued statement that won’t completely take over your look the way a necklace does. You can wear one bracelet next to your watch, or a few on their own. And don’t be afraid to mix a couple colors or textures, while keeping the overall look tasteful. Once you’re wearing it, try not to fiddle. Put it on, then forget about it.
  4. But if you’re already a style renegade, go ahead and jump in with a necklace. A good length is somewhere between your collarbone and the middle of your chest. And one or two at a time is your max.
  5. If you’re going to try rings, the most in my opinion a man can safely pull off is 2 or sometimes 3 per hand, and keep in mind the masculine shape element in #2 above.
  6. Try vintage. Vintage pieces often have a patina that give wonderful character to man jewelry. Bonus: they can also be good conversation starters. Things that are interesting and look like they have a story to them pique peoples’ interest.
  7. Keep your build in mind. If you’re smaller-boned, go for smaller-scale pieces. Similarly, if you’re a big guy, you don’t want to dwarf overly-delicate pieces.
  8. Don’t match…complement. If your watch is black leather with silver-tone metal, then don’t pick a black and silver bracelet to wear with it. Try a royal blue instead, something that will work with the cool tones. In general, warm tones (gold, mustard yellow, forest green, eggplant, maroon) work together, and cool tones (purple, royal blue, blue-based red) work together. If you’re curious about how to combine colors for the best possible effect, you may want to check out my online style course, Next Level Style, which has a full section on color.
images via GQ, Giles and Brother Instagram