7 Do’s and Don’ts for Men’s Jewelry

At a glance, it might seem as though men today approach jewelry from two extremes: either they consider it effeminate and wear little or none, or they wear it excessively and look like a showoff (or a mobster)! In truth, though, a gentleman knows he shouldn’t fall into either of these two camps, and that balance is key. With that in mind, let’s discuss the most common types of jewelry in classic menswear, and 7 smart suggestions for how to wear (or not wear) them.

Throughout history and across different cultures, what can and cannot be worn by men has varied and still varies greatly. For example, if you think of the Maharajas in India or the French kings of the 18th century with their showy gems, it could be considered to be effeminate or over the top in this day and age. However, if anything, history has shown us that wearing jewelry as men is something very normal. By definition, jewelry is an accessory that is made in parts of metal or gemstones or semi-precious stones that serve as ornamentation and doesn’t necessarily have any practical value.

Typical Pieces of Jewelry for Men

Cufflinks actually do serve a purpose but just because they do, doesn’t mean they’re not jewelry (because they are very decorative). When it comes to men’s jewelry apart from rings, cufflinks are probably the most widely worn item today. Most of them come in metals that are usually less expensive; more precious metals include sterling silver, yellow gold, rose gold, white gold, or platinum. You can have a sterling silver cufflink that is heavily plated with platinum or gold that will never rub off and you can pass on to your grandchildren.

Raphael’s collection of cufflinks.

Sometimes cufflinks have decorative elements such as enamel or semi-precious stone inserts such as lapis lazuli or onyx or they could have sapphires or rubies. Sometimes, they’re also made out of shell such as mother of pearl or maybe some jade. Of course, cufflinks require you to wear a shirt that is made for them which is typically a French cuff or double cuff shirt that is folded over. For White Tie, you can also have a single-cuffed shirt that is also worn with cufflinks. In a more casual setting, you can sometimes find combination cuffs which are button cuffs but they also have two buttonholes so they can be worn with cufflinks.

Personally, I love to wear cufflinks and when I wear a suit, I usually always wear cufflinks and even with a sport coat. If you’re interested, you can click here to be taken to our guide that gives you a glimpse into my cufflink collection and if you’re interested in high-quality cufflinks at a fair price, check out the cufflinks at the Fort Belvedere Shop.

2. Shirt Studs & Waistcoat Buttons

Shirt studs and waistcoat buttons are not anymore as popular today, but traditionally, shirt studs were worn with formal outfits such as a Black Tie outfit or White Tie and they were just more decorative than the regular buttons you have sewn-on on dress shirts today. Often, those shirt studs would match the cufflinks and you basically have a set. Today, most people don’t attend many Black Tie functions and so, it’s really valuable to have a pair of cufflinks that can be worn independently of formal functions.

Also, if you travel, you can just bring one set of shirt studs and cufflinks and you can wear it with regular events, with business events, and for formal events. Because of that, I designed a set with monkey fist cufflinks that you can find here. You can buy them independently, you can wear them independently, but it’s kind of the one set that works for all.

Some would match their shirt studs, cufflinks, and waistcoat buttons all in the same look.

Traditionally, men would also wear removable matching waistcoat buttons so you had shirt studs, cufflinks, and waistcoat buttons all in the same look. This was called a full dress set and today, you can’t really find them new anymore. You have to buy them vintage, but if you go to all those lengths and dress up for black tie and white tie, you might as well go the extra mile, especially if you’re into clothes and it’s just a hobby and a passion for you just like it is for me.

3. Watches

A watch is functional as it tells you time, but ultimately today, it’s more of a jewelry piece for most men especially if they invest a lot of money into it to show off certain complications or just a really cool look. Of course, one could argue if it has a leather strap, it’s more of an accessory. If it has a metal band, it’s more of a piece of jewelry, but at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter. It’s all about what you think and how you feel.

Raphael looking dapper with his watch that pairs well with his outfit.

As a funny side note, historically, it was impolite to have a watch with you because if you would look at it in company, you would imply that you had better things to do which would have been considered to be rude. Then came the pocket watch and today, people wear their Rolex Submariner with their tuxedo outfits even though it doesn’t make sense from a formality point of view.

4. Rings

Perhaps, the most obvious jewelry item a man can wear is a classic ring; the most common one being the wedding band or the wedding ring but you can also have things like a pinky ring or a signet ring. If you want to know how many rings you should wear and what’s the specific meaning of a ring if you wear it on your thumb or your middle finger, our guide to Men’s Ring Meaning & Definitions can surely be of help.

Personally, I like rings a lot and I have quite the collection. Typically, I wear a wedding band and one other ring–be the pinky ring or something on the ring finger on the opposite hand.

Some men like Raphael would wear a pinky ring on one hand and their wedding band on the other.

5. Tie Bars or Tie Clips

Particularly, men who don’t just dress up because they have to but because they want to find that a tie bar or a tie clip is just another thing they can add to make their outfit more special. A more functional advantage of a tie bar is if you have one shoulder that is lower than the other like me, your tie will have a tendency to go in one direction and a tie clip can keep it in place all day so it always looks neat.

Tie clips are an elegant example of having a functional item that still serves an ornamental purpose. Sometimes, you can even find vintage sets that have matching tie bars and cufflinks back in the 60s, 70s, and 80s, you could also find tie tacks and sometimes they had chains that held your tie in place. If you wear it today it gives you a certain vintage look which is okay. If that’s what you’re going for but it’s definitely a modern aesthetic.

A tie bar can also be worn to keep your tie in place.

If you go in the further back men wore tie stick pins which were just a pin that would go through your tie and no, it doesn’t damage it even though it leaves a little hole. Today, you can wear them with ascots, especially formal ones and maybe even with a formal three-piece suit. I like the look of it because it’s very subtle but it’s different. Prince Charles, for example, still wears them today and particularly with morning wear ensembles. If you want to learn how to use a stick pin for a formal cravat, please check out our guide here.

6. Collar Pins, Collar Clips & Collar Bars

Collar pins, clips, and bars are among the accessories that had their heyday during the 1930s. At that time, a lot of men would wear them over the years. They almost completely lost their appeal to Main Street and really only dandies or clotheshorses would wear them to underline their unique style. Fortunately, in recent years due to shows such as Boardwalk Empire, Mad Men, Peaky Blinders, or Perry Mason, more men have become aware of collar clips and collar pins and as a consequence, you see more men wearing them today.

Again, they’re typically worn by men who don’t feel like they have to wear a uniform but who see clothing as an expression of their personal style and they enjoy it. Traditionally, collar bars, clips, and pins were only worn with very narrow collars because you couldn’t have that much of a spread. It would slightly elevate the tie knot but today, collars are typically a bit more spread, so many of our customers asked us to make a wider collar clip; we listened and we did. To learn about wearing a collar clip or pin in your outfit without looking over the top, check out our guide on How To Style A Collar Clip.

7. Chains & Fobs

When the pocket watch was at its peak, men would of course also have a pocket watch chain that they would wear. Typically, the vest had a little hole or it was just pulled to a buttonhole and you would see it in the front and the pocket watch was in your vest pocket. If you wear a watch chain today, it adds a distinctive vintage look to your appearance and people typically only do it if they’re really into clothes. Personally, I really like wearing a double Albert chain with a hole in a double-breasted vest because it has this symmetrical look, has a little fob on it and it’s just very debonaire in my mind.

When it became historically okay to wear a timepiece with your evening wear and people weren’t offended if you looked at it, first, you had really flat thin pocket watches and those wouldn’t be worn with a long watch chain but with a simple fabric fob or that was a bit decorative in your vest waistcoat pocket.

A pocket watch with an Albert chain.

Today’s style icons such as Lino Ieluzzi have popularized chains in menswear again. For example, he uses it with a money clip in his pocket and then the other end of the chain being attached to a belt loop or a belt, so when he wears a jacket or a suit, it hangs out underneath and you can see it like with a pocket watch. This is definitely a more casual approach to wearing a chain but it’s nevertheless quite popular and modern, and it works well if you don’t want to be too stiff in your overall appearance.

8. Bracelets, Necklaces & Chains

If I look at my dad’s generation, I could often see men wearing necklaces or bracelets and I remember I used to wear one because my dad would and so I got one. I even got a silver bracelet on one of our Turkey vacations back in the day. In combination with a mullet, five rings on your fingers, and a strong tan, you can look like you’re straight up in New Jersey from the 1980s.

A more modern approach to bracelets is semi-precious stones such as tiger’s eye or onyx or lapis lazuli. In my mind, they’re a bit of a fad and I’m sure they won’t stay around. They’re also not really part of the classic men’s style realm, at the same time, all the younger people like to wear it and it’s more in line with a casual approach to style. Heavy link chains are typically of gold or in gold colors and they’re sometimes bedazzled with diamonds and they have become a status of wealth in society today; they’re not something that is classically associated with permanent men’s style.

A tiger’s eye bracelet.

9. Belt Buckles

Most people will think of belt buckles as a very functional item and not an ornamentation item but if you think about it, cowboys, for example, have sterling silver buckles with inlaid turquoise or you can spend thousands of dollars on Hermes H buckles in precious metals, for example, that are definitely more of a jewelry piece than a functional piece even though they serve a functional use.

Personally, I like to match the color of my belt buckle to the rest of my accessories and to do that very effectively, I work with a belt system that allows me to change the style and color of my belt buckle very easily with all the belts I have in my collection. You can learn more about this technique from our How to Pair Belts & Shoes (and Your Metal Accessories) guide.

The Fort Belvedere belt buckle matches the metal on the shoe Fort Belvedere Tan Cognac Brown Calf Leather Belt Aniline Dyed Cut-To-Size – Folded Edges 3cm x 120cm Shop Here Fort Belvedere Benedict Gold Solid Brass Belt Buckle Exchangeable Oblong Rectangle with Gold Plating Hypoallergenic Nickel Free Take A Look

10. Lapel Pins or Chains

Even though lapel pins or chains are quite a rare sight, they still are around and I’ve found that in recent years they’ve become more popular than maybe 20 years ago. It’s either a pin that goes through the buttonhole of your lapel or sometimes it’s a chain that drapes from the buttonhole down into your pocket. Sometimes they’re old pocket watch chains that just have been repurposed.

Just like a boutonniere, a lapel pin can make you stand out a bit more because it’s a bit more uncommon. But even politicians sometimes have little pins there that show their association to their country or their alma mater.

Lapel chains

Dos and Don’ts for Men’s Jewelries

1. Don’t Show Off

The first rule is to skip jewelry that has big branding on it or that’s super ostentatious unless of course, you want to impress others with your status symbols rather than your intellect, humor, or charm. Frankly, trying to impress others with their expensive Hermes belts or Rolex watches typically means that there’s an insecurity that you have to overcome because you don’t feel valued enough by others without them.

Always keep in mind, jewelry catches the eye because it’s typically made of metal or reflective and it is made to draw your attention to it. As a general rule of thumb, less is more and if someone calls it bling, it’s a good indicator that it’s too much.

Trying to impress people with expensive jewelry is often linked to insecurities that a person needs to overcome.

So, if you wear a White Tie or Black Tie, you don’t have to wear that watch and it was historically acceptable to do so. Cufflinks for daywear are typically made out of just gold or silver without any bold diamonds that are sparkling and just showy. Of course, some precious stones are different because they’re less showy; they just pick up a color that’s in your tie. But, at the end of the day, it’s your style, and if you want to be bolder and wear bolder colors and more jewelry go for it just be aware of how it could be perceived by others.

2. Don’t Wear Too Many Jewelries At Once

Coco Chanel’s advice to women was to always look in the mirror and then remove one accessory and the same holds true for men. A common misconception is that more jewelry is more formal, but a little dose of minimalism can really help. So, if you have one loud ring or signature cufflinks keep the rest really toned down.

“Before you leave the house, look in the mirror and take one thing off.” — Coco chanel

For rings, most men are fine with a wedding band and maybe one other ring on the opposite hand. If you look at pictures of Pitti Uomo, you see a bunch of guys wearing stacked bracelets and other accessories which is a good way to show that too much is just not a good take because it looks overloaded.

3. Don’t Wear Oversized Jewelry

For men, that could be an extremely big gold watch or a ring that resembles that of an NFL championship ring. Usually, big expensive rings or items of jewelry for men are really no different than a status symbol. It’s an equivalent of a woman wearing a really big engagement ring and holding it in a way that everyone can see how much money someone spent on you. It can easily come across as looking cheap or like a mobster or drug lord. Keep in mind that subtlety is the key to true elegance.

Avoid wearing oversized jewelry

4. Do Choose The Right Proportions for Your Jewelry

If you are a bigger person and you have bigger fingers, by all means, go with a ring that is more substantial. If you’re a very thin guy, maybe a thinner band works just like a thinner tie would or a jacket with skinnier lapels. In the same way, if you have thin wrists and have a small build, well a smaller watch is better than one with a larger diameter.

Choose a piece of jewelry that has the right proportion with your body.

5. Do Select Jewelry That Has A Personal Meaning

There is a reason why Pandora is so commercially successful because they allow women to commemorate certain events in their life and make it part of their jewelry bracelet. Men can do the same with a watch, a signet ring, or a pair of cufflinks that can commemorate an important step in their life. It can be something they reward themselves for or it can be tied to a relative like your father, your uncle who handed it down to you, which then makes the jewelry very special to you and is above its materialistic value.

At the same time, be careful not to be too kitschy and maybe have political party affiliations made part of your jewelry. It will likely just alienate people and it’s the equivalent of wearing t-shirts with bold messages on them.

Statement shirts won’t be dapper.

6. Do Match Your Metals

That may sound simple at first but once you think about all the different metals in your outfits it can be quite tricky. If you don’t happen to have a matching metal for everything, that’s okay, don’t be self-conscious, and just wear it. If you can make it all work together, consider it and the overall result will be better. And no, if your wedding band is gold or silver, you should always leave it on and not try to take it off or mix and match other things because again, it has a meaning and that’s more important than matching up the colors.

7. Do Choose Jewelry Based on The Occasion

This is not just true for clothing in general, but particularly for jewelry, you wouldn’t want to show up or bedazzled at a funeral because that would draw the attention to you and your status symbols or shiny objects rather than to the deceased. Another example is if you’re going to a job interview, it’s probably wise not to wear your most expensive Rolex watch. On the other hand, though, when you’re negotiating a business deal and the other person wants to see that they’re dealing with an accomplished business person, that Rolex may actually help you. Remember that there’s no cut and clear rule about what to wear, it all depends on the situation.

It’s not advisable to wear an expensive watch like a Rolex Submariner to a job interview

Conclusion

In conclusion, we all have different styles and someone can pull-off wearing earrings, a number of bracelets, and rings and it just works with their overall style. But if you look at it from a lens of the classic permanent style, all the jewelry items and rules we’ve laid out here will serve you well. Always keep in mind that when you’re in doubt, always tone it down and go with less than more.

How do you like to wear your jewelry–or are you someone who wears little or none? Tell us in the comments!

Outfit Rundown

I’m wearing a combination consisting of a light blue shirt with french cuffs. I’m wearing a pair of contrasting purple glass cufflinks with gold metal elements and I’m combining it with a striped tie. It’s a vintage one from Brooks Brothers and an olive green sport coat. My pocket square picks up the tones of greens and blues and yellows, and it’s paisley from Fort Belvedere. My ring is a wedding band in gold with a little milgrain pattern and then I have a citrine gold ring.

Raphael in an olive green sport coat and navy blue trousers Fort Belvedere Grey Blue & Prussian Blue Two Tone Solid Oxford Socks Fil d'Ecosse Cotton Shop Here Fort Belvedere Burgundy Silk Wool Pocket Square with Paisley in Beige, Blue, Green and Pink and beige shoestring edge Take A Look

Again, I’m matching the colors of the metal and it also ties in to the stripe in my tie. My slacks are also part of a suit and there is solid navy blue with cuffs. I’m combining them with olive green shoes that pick up the color of the jacket and to provide a visual interesting element without being overboard. I’m combining it with a two-tone pair of socks from Fort Belvedere in a darker blue and kind of a prussian blue which provides a very interesting look depending on how the light shines on them without being too dramatic.

What Clothes Should Be Paired With Your Silver Jewellery?

In this day and age of technology, where things are meant to be disposable, silver jewellery stands out as an investment. It can be worn daily to work or a formal function without looking "tacky" or over the top.

Silver is a durable metal. It can be mixed and matched in different pieces to create an outfit that's classic yet cutting edge. It's easy to take care of too. Unlike yellow gold, which needs to be polished and cleaned regularly, silver only needs to be cleaned every once in a while.

If you're curious about the colour and style of clothing you can pair with your silver accessories, here's a quick guide.

What Goes Well with Silver Accessories?

White, cream, tan, black, grey, and all shades of beige are colours that go well with silver. Depending on your bought pieces, you can also team your outfits with bold jewel tones such as blue, red, and purple.

You can also incorporate bold colours within your silver jewellery by mixing and matching a few pieces. For example, if you're wearing a silver necklace, you could choose to wear a bold colour to match it. Alternatively, you can pair it with a white, cream, tan, or black shirt to create a more subdued and classic look.

What Patterns to Wear

When it comes to patterns such as stripes, polka dots, or geometric prints, they look great with silver as long as they are in basic colours and shades. For a more blingy look, you can also try pairing your silver accessories with patterns in a bold colour.

Designs that are trending right now include geometric and animal prints. However, you can also try out a pop of colour by wearing a contrasting colour or a gemstone on one of the silver pieces. When using gemstones, stick to neutral colours like black, white, or grey.

What to Avoid

Silver jewellery is versatile and can be worn with a variety of clothes. But if you want to know what looks best with it, here are a few things to avoid when buying silver jewellery:

Avoid wearing frilly and floral pieces together.

Avoid wearing too much silver jewellery at once. Wearing a silver necklace and a silver bracelet at the same time is too much. You can add a bracelet to the outfit but don't wear three or more.

Avoid wearing silver jewellery with pieces that have a lot of stones or gemstones. Doing so will take away from the look of your silver accessories.

Avoid wearing silver jewellery with a lot of other accessories. The line between being over the top and being a minimalist can be tricky.

What You Can Do

Create Layers

If you want to experiment or look grand, use a few pieces of silver jewellery to create different looks. Layer them together to create a more dramatic look or to create a more subtle look.

For instance, you are wearing a silver necklace and feel like something's missing. Then, you can add a gold necklace and ring to make the look even more striking.

Don’t Overdo It

If you love silver, wear silver! However, it’s best not to overdo it and drown out your look with too many pieces at once.

Still, at the end of the day, how you wear your accessories depends on what would make you feel good about yourself.

Grow Your Classy Silver Jewellery Collection with Us

Silver jewellery, whether it's for men or women, is something that can be enjoyed for a longer amount of time. It's a practical decision because it can be worn every day, it's easy to work with, and it can be very versatile in terms of what you can mix and match with it. If you are afraid to use it because of not knowing which to pair it with, you can refer to the tips in this article.

Want to add silver huggie earrings to your silver accessory collection? Get cute and quality ones from NABI London, your quality and classy jewellery source in London. Browse our recent collection now.

A Man’s Guide to Wearing Jewelry

I wear my wedding ring on my right hand.

The reason? I married my wife in a Ukrainian Orthodox church and have never felt the need to move it even though we live in a country where 99.99% of people wear it on the left hand.

My ring is a small silver metal band that maybe cost $20. Nothing to brag about. Yet it has been the subject of hundreds of conversations over the last 8 years because of its placement.

That’s the power of jewelry–for better or worse it sends signals about who we are, what commitments we have made, and our status in society.

Step outside the norm and people notice. Depending on your goals, this may be a good thing or a bad thing.

The goal of this article is to help you understand the guidelines to wearing jewelry so you can better control the signals you send. Because these tiny pieces of metal and stone can have a big effect on the opinions of people we’re trying to work with or get to know, you want to make sure you’re sending the right visual message.

Please note – this is one man’s perspective. I am aware that different cultures around the world view the wearing of jewelry differently. I would love it if in the comments below you expand on your view of male jewelry and its role in your environment.

4 Rules for Men When Wearing Jewelry

1. Keep It Simple

When in doubt, keep it simple. Start with a classic leather-strapped silver watch; if you regularly wear a watch and can afford it, consider a sportier diving watch with a stainless steel band as well. Next branch out to tie accessories and cufflinks.

Once you’re comfortable wearing these generally accepted pieces, then you can start to introduce other jewelry pieces like necklaces if you choose. For a quick visual guide, visit Joe’s awesome chart over at Dappered.

2. Match Metals

Most men’s jewelry is metallic. Gold and silver tones are the most common. Your outfits should only feature one metal tone at a time.

Gold is a warmer color and reads, predictably, like a yellow accent in terms of the color wheel. It goes well with browns and other earth tones, as well as with deep hues like royal blue or hunter green. Watch for differing tones if you’re buying multiple pieces of gold jewelry–gold comes in a broad range of darkness/lightness, and you may end up with pieces that don’t match if the difference is extreme.

Silver and silver-tone metals like polished stainless steel or chrome are neutral. They read as grays, functionally outside the color wheel, falling instead on the black-to-white gradient. That means they don’t clash too sharply with anything, but also don’t provide the same eye-catching contrasts that well-worn gold can. Pair silver jewelry with black or dark gray clothing for a sleek, timeless look, or you can wear it with lighter colors in the summer without the fear of it overwhelming your clothing’s soft colors.

Copper and bronze are orange-hued metals and should be treated as such. They’re bolder than gold or silver and need to be worn with restraint. You’ll see copper-tone jewelry in more casual outfits, and an heirloom copper ring or shirt buttons/rivets can add to a plain trouser and shirt.

Precious stones need to be kept to a minimum. They’re like purses–no matter how egalitarian you want to get about it, they’re still feminine to most. A single color of stone on a ring or a single colored ear stud is the max. Anything beyond that is either flaunting your wealth in an obnoxious way or just plain gaudy.

Turquoise gets a little bit of an exception for any man who wears deliberately Western styles. It’s become something of a Southwestern gentleman’s stone. A bit on a ring, bolo tie, or belt buckle goes great with jeans and a collared shirt. Just be aware that it is a bright color and tends to be eye-catching–wear small amounts, and only when you want to draw attention to wherever the stone is located.

Leather is touchy for anyone who isn’t in high school or a rebel. If you’re going to wear it, make sure it’s in natural earth-tones, not dyed black, and never with ostentatious metal studs. Unless you ride a motorcycle, and even then, only when you’re actually riding the motorcycle.

Wood and bone are starting to show up more and more in men’s jewelry, often in reference to various ethnic traditions. They’re usually on the paler end of the earth tones–take them case by case, and just be sure that you’re not wearing the jewelry right up against something that’s similar in color but not an exact match. If you’re going to wear an unusual material like that, it needs to stand out a bit to really work.

The exception to issues of color matching are wedding bands and heirloom pieces. A man can always wear his wedding band; if it doesn’t go with your other metal pieces, don’t sweat it. It’ll just draw a bit of attention, and there’s nothing wrong with having people notice the visible symbol of your commitment. As for heirloom pieces, try to match but assuming the piece is non-attention grabbing (such as a small ring or watch), the clash of metals is acceptable.

If you’re going to be buying jewelry soon–make sure to first read my primer here on buying male jewelry where I explain metal and stone details in further depth.

3. Understand Jewelry’s Symbolism

Jewelry has meaning.

You can’t get away from this. Despite it taking up only a tiny percent of your visual presentation, people zero in on jewelry thanks to its flash and uncommon usage by men.

To further complicate the matter, people can interpret the meaning of the same piece of jewelry very differently. To some, ornamental rings symbolize success and wealth; to others they signal organized crime affiliation.

That means a man has to be careful when wearing jewelry pieces outside the norm. It’s easy to appear flashy when you start including nondescript jewelry in your daily getup. However, jewelry can add a helpful bit of color and uniqueness to an outfit. So how does a well-dressed man balance it?

Avoid Ostentatious Styles. It’s hard to repeat this point often enough. Keep anything metallic small and sleek.

Wear Meaningful Jewelry. We’ve talked about wedding rings already. Other accents that have meaning might include a class ring, a fraternal insignia, a military service pin, or an athletic ring or necklace. These can be “door openers and conversation starters;” if you’re talking to prospective business partners in Houston, it makes sense to wear your A&M class ring if you know they went to school in College Station. If you’re interviewing artists for a gallery show in New York, perhaps heirloom cufflinks your uncle made can help display you care about art because you come from a family of artisans. Choose jewelry that’s going to be meaningful within the situation.

Know When to Wear It. Save your best for the big occasions in life. Personally I rarely wear any jewelry–despite being in the clothing industry I prefer simple pieces. But when I have an important event to attend, I pull out my watch and cufflinks. Bringing specific pieces out for specific events–instead of everyday wear–makes them less status pieces and more festive statements.

4. Jewelry and Dress Codes

In the business world, company dress codes can severely restrict male jewelry. Often phrased in a politically correct tone such as, “Men should only wear tasteful pieces of jewelry,” you’ll find in practice that this means not rocking the boat and conforming to the status quo. So if you’re hired at AT&T corporate, be careful about trying to wear as many necklaces as Mr. T.

Seriously–the burden of appropriateness is always on the man who chooses to wear jewelry. Know this and be restrained when you’re in any kind of professional setting. You can express yourself after work. Jewelry is, by its nature, small enough to slip into a jacket pocket after all.

Businesses that request “modest” or “tasteful” or “appropriate” jewelry, or other words along those lines, prefer things be limited to the traditional “masculine” styles of jewelry. This includes tie accents, watches, cuff-links, wedding bands, and lapel pins. Over the last decade most companies have expanded this to include bracelets, earrings, and ethnic jewelry as well.

Piercings (other than earrings) are dicey even in casual outfits. If your office and social circles are comfortable with nose or lip piercings, that’s great, but it’s still going to seem off-putting to some strangers that you interact with–clerks at stores, taxi drivers, what have you.

Unfair? Absolutely, but that’s reality unless you live in a counter-culture friendly city like Austin, Boulder, or Portland. If your goal is to appear well-dressed and trustworthy to most, look to stay within the bounds of accepted male styles.

Types of Male Jewelry

The following is a condensed list of every piece of male jewelry I could think of; here’s a more in-depth look at the core pieces of male jewelry if you’re looking for more info.

Wedding bands – A common piece of jewelry for over half a century, wedding rings are normally made from gold, silver, and platinum and are simple in design.

Watches – A functional piece of jewelry, watches are as safe as wedding rings and acceptable to wear in all circumstances except black tie events (although this is an old rule followed by few). In general the simpler the watch, the dressier it is. A plain black leather strap and simple silver timepiece with Arabic or Roman numerals is versatile and classic. Metal watches are fine for suits and sport jackets, while cloth bands and plastic watches should be reserved for casual wear.

Blazer Buttons – When a man buys a blazer it normally comes with simple brass buttons. He then has the option to upgrade them to gold or silver buttons. Horn and mother of pearl are options here as well, but the key is the blazer jacket is clearly distinguished by the ornamentation of the buttons.

Companies such as Ben Silver have built a strong reputation thanks to their wide selection of quality blazer buttons.

Cufflinks & shirt studs – Cufflinks and shirt studs are functional jewelry pieces that hold the cuffs and front of a dress shirt in place, normally where buttons would have been. Shirt studs are most commonly associated with black tie attire, while cufflinks only require French or double cuffs. Metallic cufflinks made from precious metals in simple designs are the most formal, while any cufflink using a novelty design is more for fun around the office. Silk knots are a simple alternative to metals, and are a favorite with younger men.

Tie accents – a tie accent serves the practical purpose of keeping your tie in place. This is commonly accomplished in three ways: with a tie pin, a tie bar, or a tie chain. Tie bars are simple strips of gold, silver, or other metal that clip onto the tie horizontally and hold it in place using the shirt as the anchor. Tie chains serve the same purpose as the tie clip but remain unseen, while the tie tack accent is best avoided as it sticks a pin through the tie.

Rings – Rings come in a wide variety of forms: class rings, fraternal rings, championship rings, and decorative rings. As mentioned previously, wedding rings are always acceptable, but other rings should be worn with more caution in the US. Class and fraternal rings are in most cases acceptable, while championship rings are best left for celebrations with old teammates or fights in a back alley. I have many European friends that wear decorative rings; within their ethnic circles in cities like Chicago and New York this is normal.

How many rings can a man wear? My answer is as many as he can confidently pull off. For most of us this is one or two rings–our wedding ring and perhaps a university or fraternal ring. We’ve been raised in a society that frowns on showing off success and wealth in this manner. But there are many men–especially travelers and immigrants–who can confidently wear 3 to 5 rings and not come off as a sleazy used car salesmen.

Lapel pins – They can be ornamental, collectable, or reveal a group affiliation. Lapel pins have been around for half a century, although the recent headlines would make you think they originated from American politicians looking to display their patriotism. Their history actually lies with the USSR and China where portraits of communist leaders were worn to display loyalty. Nowadays pin designs come in all shapes, colors, and meanings.

Belt Buckles – In the American West, trophy belt buckles have been around since the 1920s, handed out to rodeo and other contest winners. Not practical for normal work wear (although some wear them when dressing up), they became more common in the 1950s as Hollywood influenced their demand and acceptance. The rules on wearing a western buckle are this: if it’s a prize buckle, you or an ancestor should have won it. Otherwise leave them on the shelf. As for western buckles in general–wear them if they fit your personality and meet your needs.

Bracelets – Decorative, functional, cause-related, and medical alert. Men of royalty have worn ornamental bracelets for thousands of years, but more common today are cause-related bracelets such as Livestrong, functional ones such as parachute cord bracelets, or medical alert bracelets with a man’s vitals in case he loses consciousness.

I personally feel a man should be very careful with decorative bracelets; cause bracelets are another story. Despite their recent overuse, I think if a man is a true advocate of the cause, they are great conversation starters that can lead to greater awareness. As for survival bracelets–well, I have yet to hear a true story of a man surviving on account of his paracord bracelet. But feel free to enlighten me in the comments.

Necklaces – Decorative, functional, medical, or religious. As a military man I wore my dog tags for 6 years–never really got used to it though as I’m not a necklace wearer. I know other men who love their gold chains, and wear them 24/7 even on the beach. Necklaces are an easy piece of jewelry to wear because they can be hidden under the clothing. Since only a sliver can be seen by others, they create a feeling of curiosity and can thus be a great conversation starter. As for length and number to be worn–less is more. Two is about the most I recommend. For length, at least six to eight inches above your navel is a good standard.

Earrings – The most accepted piercing for men. They have gained wider appeal over the last 30 years and nowadays do not garner much interest in large cities, although in smaller communities and conservative businesses they are still frowned upon by many. Ear piercings’ main advantage is that the earring can be easily removed if required for work.

Other Piercings – Nose, brow, and other. Facial piercing and the jewelry associated with it have not reached mainstream acceptance. There are cities (and cultures) where this type of ornamentation is normal; however, it is perceived by many in the US as a sign of rebellion.

Ethnic jewelry – As varied as the people of this planet, the key with wearing ethnic pieces is to remember your surroundings. What works in northern Thailand won’t necessarily fly in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. However, tasteful pieces such as tribal bracelets can help you stand out from the masses and help tell the story of your family’s journey.

Military Jewelry – Warriors have adorned their uniforms with pieces of medal and ribbon for thousands of years. If this doesn’t dispel the myth that jewelry is feminine, I don’t know what will.

Religious Jewelry – Prayer beads, rosary beads, Japa mala, medallion necklaces, and scapulars. Wear them in accordance with your faith’s teachings. And be respectful of the importance others place on these items even if you are not of their religion.

Jewelry to Avoid – Grills, anklets, toe rings, belly piercings, engagement rings, armlets………no,no,no, never, no, and no.

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Written by Antonio Centeno

Founder, Real Men Real Style

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Maryan Barbara
Maryan Barbara

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