Can men wear bling?
Today, that depends on the man. In the past, kings, aristocrats and wealthy commoners the world over thought nothing of draping themselves with diamonds and precious metals as a way to indicate their status.
In modern times though, men were expected to be much more modest and sedate in dress and through much of the 19th and 20th century, jewellery was strictly for the ladies. Men were confined to wearing a simple watch and if married, a plain wedding ring.
But then came the 1960s and as all dressing rules went out the window, men could wear anything that they wanted. The 70s were just as freewheeling and men began to wear more jewellery, and chokers and beads around the neck were particularly popular. The 80s were the decade of opulence and excess, so diamond watches, bracelets and rings on men became very popular. And soon, the rise of hip-hop and rap artists and Korean idols would make bling for men not only acceptable but also a strong symbol of personal style.
Even though most of us are neither hip-hop nor rap stars, and most men can’t carry off bold jewellery, it is interesting to observe that even in strait-laced and sedate Singapore, more men are discovering that a piece of jewellery that fits their personality can add a lot to their personal style.
While many men wear earrings, other forms of jewellery such as rings, bracelets, necklaces/chokers and even brooches are additional ways to amplify your style statement.
Here are some tips:
Start with one piece
If you are a guy who’s new to any sort of jewellery (or a gal who wants her guy to have more style), the key is to start small and wear something that you are comfortable with. What looks great on a Korean star will look ridiculous on you if you can’t carry it off, so never slavishly imitate. Two earrings on him may look fantastic but it could make you look like a drag queen, and a chunky bracelet on the wrong wrist can look like a handcuff.
Wear it for yourself
Jewellery is a statement of personal style so pick something that you personally like and are comfortable with, not what is “in style” or what your girlfriend or wife likes or what was on sale for a great bargain.
A ring is a good way to get yourself introduced to jewellery as it is the least obtrusive. Just don’t wear it on your pinky; that’s way too cliché and most likely will look tacky no matter how elegant the ring. The middle, ring and index fingers are all better positions.
If you are conservative, choose a simple band but make it interesting by choosing one with details. The Cartier Love Ring with its iconic screws encircling the circumference, or the Tiffany T Two Ring with its geometric bands are two very stylish and sophisticated rings that are understated but not boring. If you prefer a bolder style, you may wish to consider the Bulgari B.zero1. If you have the personal style and confidence (and funds) for a diamond ring, go for it! But whatever you do, do not wear an “Uncle” ring (e.g. yellow-gold and jade or any old-fashioned gold ring).
Way up on the style ladder is a jewelled lapel or tie pin—otherwise known as a brooch. This takes a certain personality and verve to carry off, but if done correctly, it can really set a guy apart. A bejewelled brooch on the lapel of a dinner jacket or a tie takes an already stylish look up a few notches. International style icons such as Pharrell Williams and David Beckham have led this trend, wearing stunning brooches on their outfits.
Don’t choke yourself
If a ring is the least obtrusive, a necklace or choker is the most obvious piece of jewellery a man can wear. If you are tempted to wear one, tread carefully, but don’t hesitate if you feel you want one. A simple chain or leather cord is a good start with or without a pendant but save that for your casual days off. They will be wrong with a business shirt. And unless you are in the entertainment or fashion field and can really carry it off, don’t wear thick gold chains.
A bracelet is another way to ramp up your style quotient and you can choose how much of a statement you want to make. Leather cuffs and cords are a great way to dress up a casual outfit and no matter your age, they will help make you look more hip and cool. For dressier occasions, opt for a metal bracelet. You can find a wide range of stunning ones in silver and bronze from John Hardy, Konstantino and David Yurman, or precious metal ones in gold and platinum from Cartier, Bulgari and Tiffany.
As with other forms of jewellery, you need to choose one that fits your own personality and aesthetic, so really, anything goes.
All images courtesy of Bulgari, Cartier and Tiffany & Co., John Hardy, Konstantino, David Yurman.