In the past, there have been times when men have dripped in gold and jewels as much as or let’s just say more than women! For instance, the famous portrait of Henry VIII, by Hans Holbein showcases the Tudor monarch decked out in gold, pearls, and jewels. A 16th century portrait of the nobleman and writer Sir Walter Raleigh, shows him in heavily decorated clothing with pearls hanging from his cloak. And if you search for Maharajas and Mughals, you may start to wonder how they could have moved under the weight of all those ornate jewels. Well, of course these are the looks you aren’t likely to spot on today’s millennial men.
Or have I given my verdict too soon? It has been highly noticeable as to how in recent years the codes governing masculinity have been loosening up, in more simple words the traditional lines between the masculine and feminine fashion are blurring. Although jewelry is still considered to be a female domain, we are now seeing men experimenting with their looks more than before.
To be honest, this evolution has been far from smooth, because the elements of the streetwear constituency are very much attached to masculine stereotypes. Remember when rapper Kanye West wore a Givenchy leather kilt on his tour in 2011, it caused a lot of storm and pushed a lot of other celebs towards the androgynous fashion. For a long time, the only acceptable jewelry for men was their wedding bands, anything more than that and you would have been marked as a ‘hippie’.
The shift towards attitudes and of course the fashion discourse has given you the good time as any to experiment with a chain over your head. In this article we are gonna take a look at everything you need to get started from, the picking of the right necklace and the length of the chain to how you can effortlessly style it with your already assembled wardrobe. So let’s get started!
The History Of Bling
The history vouches that men always weren’t so averse to the concept of bling. And to support this statement there is evidence that says that the first true men’s necklaces were produced by the Celts. The Celts, who once ruled Ireland, were famous for mastering metal crafts. When metal jewelry became popular, the Celts made ornate necklaces and armor out of gold and silver. These were worn both by men and women, without any gender differences. One of the most noticeable pieces of Celtic jewelry is a “torc”. A torc is a semi circle made out of metal that is worn around the neck with the open area facing forward. It can be considered as the first men’s necklace of sorts.
The Celts mainly wore jewelry to denote power, wealth and status.
Talking about the ancient Egyptians they were major proponents of jewels. Starting from studding their gold neck wraps, to elaborate head crowns to earrings with strung beads, amulets and talismans all to protect and bring luck to the wearer.
The period of Renaissance also had men fawning over extremely lavish jewelry like plaques, chains, pendants, as well as stupendous gemstone-laden clothes. Don’t believe us? Just google the portraits and you will surely be in awe!
This ‘male love’ for jewelry, specifically for necklaces died out in the 1600s. But they returned again in the second half of the 20th century when chains once again went from pious symbols of religion to signifiers of massive wealth. Trends like Dog tags, disco played their parts but the major push was by hip-hop fashion. It is actually when necklaces became the ultimate symbol of decadence with the artists especially rappers. The ice hanging around their necks projecting how far they had climbed the social hierarchy.
In the last decade, men’s jewelry has evolved again. They have become more of a fashion accessory than anything else. Necklaces have waltzed down the men’s catwalk for the likes of Prada, Balmain, Versace in recent seasons. Celebrities like Harry Styles and Gucci’s Alessandro Michele have been spotted walking down the red carpet of the annual Met Gala in elaborate jewelry. These all have ensured the increase in sales of men’s necklaces over time.
The Type Of Men’s Necklaces
Men’s necklaces are more than an accessory for just a look good purpose - it symbolizes your journey, your personality, an adventure, a special moment in your life or it a token that reminds you of a time and place. Nowadays, men’s necklaces come in a number of styles, let’s take a look at them to help you tell your story.
- Dog Tag Necklaces
The origin of Dog Tags date back to the American Civil War, World War I and II. At that time they were typically worn by soldiers as an identification in case of casualty or death. During the World War II, the United States Army began including religious preferences in the tags like P for Protestant, C for Catholic or H for Jewish. Later, during the Korean War (1950-53), the alphabet X was added for those who didn’t list for army and Y for no religion or a choice to not get listed at all. Traditionally soldiers wore 2 dog tags- one that was meant to stay with the body and the other one was collected for identification and record keeping. One tag mainly hangs from the main chain and the other was suspended from a smaller chain for quick removal.
Since then dog tags have moved from the battlefields to mainstream fashion. While they are no longer used for identifying bodies, they still hold a great degree of self-identification. Celebrities like Justin Beiber, Ryan Gosling have been spotted multiple times wearing dog tag necklaces. There are multiple designs that are available in this category. You can pick from the plain ones to the intricately engraved ones according to your choice. Dog tags look great with casual settings and styles like jeans and t-shirts, but if you are heading to a formal event it is advisable to wear it under your shirt for a sophisticated look.
- Chain Necklaces
Well most of the men's necklaces fall into this type. A chain is generally a strand of rings or links, discs or beads that interlock and is made of metal. While if that sounds simple enough to you then, there are countless variations and styles of chain necklaces you can choose from like cable chain, figaro chain, rope chain, etc. The chain type necklaces also come with different varieties of clasps like the lobster clasp, spring ring or fish hook clasp. You always need to look out for a chain with a good clasp as it is going to support the weight of the chain and which fastens easily.
Chain necklaces look great with both casual and formal style. If you are in casual settings, you can wear your chain necklace over a t-shirt or you can leave it hanging on your chest between the top two buttons of your shirt. You can also wear a layering look by wearing one chain hanging upto the middle of your collarbones and the other one a little below on your chest.
- Religious Necklaces
While the cross necklaces come in a variety of designs like the Latin Cross, Gothic Cross, St. Thomas Cross, etc. As these necklaces are worn as a symbol of faith and fashion, you can style them with casual as well as formal styles for a neat and put together look. But while doing so always keep the colour of the metal in mind as it should not overwhelm rather complement your clothing ensembles.
In conclusion, a good necklace is a piece that accentuates a well-dressed man, just like a ring or a necktie or a great set of cufflinks. While it may be something you are going to wear everyday or with every outfit or something you will like to keep under your shirt as a personal token, like a religious piece. Whatever be the case, we know that you don’t want a specific piece of jewelry defining you, so mix it up once in a while. Try expanding your collection of necklaces from time to time. You can easily build one with a few good pendants and a wide selection of chains, that will give you numerous fashionable possibilities, once you start mixing and matching them. Don’t be shy while experimenting with the styles, wear your chains, be it a single or multiple ones with an extra button off for a more contemporary look.