Too much jewelry for men?
The further away you go from wedding rings, the more iffy guys start to feel about accessories.
Can you still wear a bracelet and feel masculine?
When the female bracelet market outweighs the men’s, it’s easy to get into the mindset that bracelets are pretty much just a feminine thing and leave it at that.
But like any jewelry, bracelets can be a part of a stylish man’s wardrobe.
They’re an accent and an option, not a necessity — you can get through life just fine without one — but they’re certainly on the table.
Bracelets And Men’s Style
Once we start with the basic premise that yes, guys can wear bracelets if they want to, the question becomes “why would they want to?”
The role of a well-chosen bracelet isn’t that different from the role of any other piece of jewelry, like a necklace or a ring. It’s there to be a noticed accent — not the centerpiece of your outfit, but definitely a distinct part of the look.
What form the bracelet takes will depend on the outfits you like to wear. If you’re in a suit and tie on the regular, something metallic and upscale looking is a natural fit. If your wardrobe tends more toward wrap pants and tropical shirts, you’re probably going to do better in leather, rope, and bead sorts of bracelets with a rough-edged, natural look.
In both cases, however, notice that the role of the bracelet is the same: it’s emphasizing your overall look. Like a lot of good accents, it functions as a sort of social “proof” that you mean to look the way you do. You’re not just some guy who put a suit on because he had to — you’re a guy who’s taken the time to make a suit look good, and the bracelet helps make that clear.
As with necklaces, it’s good for a bracelet to look a little well-worn and broken in. Too much bright, shiny metal looks gaudy. You want people to think you’ve owned the bracelet for years, and been on strange and exotic adventures with it.
A last note that’s going to be true for any bracelets here – get it sized right. A big clunky metal bracelet sliding back and forth gets old fast. Anything with significant weight should be fitted fairly close; lighter stuff like rope-and-bead pieces can have a little more play in them if you want.
How to Wear and Display a Bracelet
Part of the problem with bracelets on men is that most classic menswear doesn’t leave room for it.
Unless you’re getting your sleeves tailored with bracelets in mind, suit and shirt cuffs are going to be competing for the same wrist space as bracelets (and as watches, if you wear them).
That makes bracelets mostly a summer phenomenon when short sleeves leave plenty of room to show them off. But you can work them into long-sleeved outfits too — just use a little common sense.
Here are our basic guidelines on how to wear a bracelet without looking awkward:
- Treat bracelets like wristwatches – they stay against the skin, under any sleeves long enough to cover them.
- Stack up as many thin cord bracelets on the same wrist as you like, but don’t go for multiples of thick, metal bracelets.
- Similarly, a wristwatch looks okay with thin cord bracelets, but not with a thick metal one. Don’t mix more than one big metal band on the same wrist.
- One wrist bare always looks better than both wrists occupied. Matching bracelets on each wrist is definitely a no-no, unless you’re going for a bondage cuff kind of look.
Like any set of “rules” in fashion, there are exceptions here, and there are going to be guys who make the occasional exception look great. But for the most part, stick to jewelry wearing guidelines, especially when you’re just starting out.
It’s easy to look awkward if you’ve got a misplaced or mismatched bracelet — like you’re trying to accent stylishly, but don’t have it quite down yet. Keep it simple and understated until you’ve got the hang of bracelets.
Types of Bracelets for Men
You can probably identify a bracelet that’s definitely not meant for men without any style education: slender metal bands set with precious stones are pretty much exclusively female jewelry.
But that leaves a surprisingly varied field of options, not all of which are things that the previously un braceleted man is necessarily going to think of. Here are some of the major styles that are still in use today:
Broad Metal Bands
This is probably the most upscale style of bracelet for men, and it’s the kind you’re most likely to see paired with suits and ties.
The variety of flavors available here is pretty limitless, but the overall effect is the same: a single solid, bold statement on your wrist. It’s uncluttered, masculine, and a little bit in-your-face.
A single metal bracelet is good when you want something with a little flash and swagger. Pair it with simple but elegant (and dressy) clothes and let it speak for itself every time it flashes from underneath your cuffs.
You may need to keep your shirt sleeves a touch shorter than most men, depending on the thickness of the bracelet and where you position it on your wrist. Don’t wear it on top of a dress shirt, however – you’ll get an absurd-looking little fringe of cuff poking out beyond the bracelet.
Steer clear of anything too flashy. One or two colors of metal is plenty, and you definitely don’t need gemstones as well. Most of these bracelets are too chunky to pair with a wristwatch – it’s an either/or choice, not an and/or.
Strings and Rope Cords
Go to the opposite end of the scale from metal bands and you’ve got rope cords, in various thicknesses.
Some of these are decorated and some aren’t. Macramé hemp bands with beads woven in are classic surfer-dude adornments while celebrities like Ashton Kutcher have recently been flashing Kabbalah strings (a sort of New Age/Jewish hybrid that takes the form of a knotted red thread).
These have the advantage of being very easy to personalize – if you take an hour or two to practice, you can make your own without too much effort. They’re relaxed and slightly counter-culture, but only in a trendy sort of way that won’t ruffle feathers in most settings.
You probably can’t wear a rope bracelet to a board meeting in a conservative business (unless you’ve got a very successful reputation already, in which case you can push boundaries a little), but in most other settings it’s just a quirky personal touch. You’ll see them all over the place at a business that wants to cultivate a more creative feel, like graphic design studios or software companies.
Rubber “Cause” Bands
LiveStrong is one of the biggest icons of the “cause” band phenomenon.
As far as style goes, these tend to be brightly-colored and a little cheap-looking, meaning you should wear them more for fun than for artistic value. Throw them on when you want a splash of color, and when you’re going to a relaxed social event where they might make good conversation starters.
Wearing the same cause band every day, no matter what your outfit is, is not recommended. Some guys are gonna do it, but try to find a better way to support your cause of choice. The wristbands don’t actually do much in terms of practical support, and wearing them day in and day can come across as a little preachy and/or obsessed to guys that aren’t as invested in your cause.
It’s every guy’s choice, and you should do what you think is right – but, at least, put some thought into other forms of activism, if there’s something you really care about and give your style a chance to vary it up a little while you work on it.
Rock & Roll Jewelry
This one’s a broad category, but be thinking chains of silver skulls with red rhinestone eyes, curled scorpion motifs, and other “badass” symbolism – that’s rock & roll jewelry in a nutshell.
As a broad style, it comes in and out of fashion all the time. Ignore the trend of the moment and wear it if you like it – it’ll be back “in” soon enough, and most people don’t care about that sort of thing anyway.
You probably don’t want to wear the chunkier stuff with suits and ties, but other than that it’s pretty flexible. Some guys can even pull off something like a chain of chrome skulls worn with a suit, so long as they’ve got their collar open and their hairstyle has some attitude.
Solid or braided, the black leather cuff is a classic punk style. It goes great with Doc Martens and some army surplus gear, or with black jeans and a black T-shirt with a band logo, and looks kind of weird with anything else.
Colored leather is a slightly different creature, and can be worn by guys who want the width of a big metal band without the flash and weight. Braided “Turk’s head” style cuffs in brown leather are a classic take on the style and have a little bit of prep culture cache with the blazers-and-boat-shoes crowd.
These were issued to soldiers in WWII and became a civilian style in the 1950s. Because of the classic heritage, they occasionally make reappearances, still in the same basic style: a thin metal chain with a rectangular plate centered on the top of the wrist, like the face of a watch.
The only real reason to wear these is if you want a retro look – but it turns out that guys do want that, and pretty regularly. Have one around if you like the style, and pull it on with some fitted jeans and a white T-shirt for the postwar American icon look.
If it was good enough for James Dean, it’s good enough for you – once in a while. Don’t make too much of a habit out of it.
Bracelets with purported health benefits come in and out of fashion among the more New Agey crowd all the time. They’re usually a single band, not very wide, made from whatever metal is fashionable, and often capped with round balls at each end (these are often magnetic, as well).
The health claims are dubious at best, and the bracelets are usually too slender to look good at any distance, so don’t wear these unless you’re a big believer.
If you find that a magnetic bracelet really does help you with your seasickness or whatever, great – throw it on when you’re on a boat, and otherwise leave it in the drawer. There’s not much else to say on that subject, other than to let guys know that the style exists and that it’s not really meant for fashion.
At the end of the day, a good bracelet does what any other good accent does: complements the outfit you wear it with.
Since your outfits change from day to day, you want to shop for bracelets that will work with your preferred personal style. Whatever you wear most of the time, look for bracelets that are going to seem like natural complements.
That might mean big, bold bracelets of solid metal for one guy, and braided strands of colored leather for another guy – or one man might want both in his collection, for wearing in different settings.
Start with a few simple pieces that pair with your favorite outfits, and see if you like being a guy who wears bracelets from time to time. If you do, you can always expand the collection further.
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Hi! I’m a dedicated health blogger sharing valuable insights, natural remedies, and the latest scientific breakthroughs to help readers lead healthier lives. With a holistic approach to wellness, I empower individuals with accessible and actionable content, debunking myths and offering practical tips for incorporating healthy habits.