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This Is How You Wear Bracelets as a Guy the Right Way

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by John Hardy and contains affiliate links. Learn more.

Matt Gulielmi
Expertise:

Style, Jewelry, Watches, Skincare, Brand Activations

Matt is a NYC-based merchandise planner in the luxury space and moonlights as a retail documentarian through his TikTok blog @retailecology. His fashion career has waltzed through styling for Michigan State's VIM Magazine, translating brand copy into Spanish for cosmetic startups, to managing inventory for some of the biggest retailers in the US. Read full bio.


Last Updated: Apr 4, 2024
9 min read
Model Wearing John Hardy Love Knot Bracelet and Ring With Hand in Pocket
Key Takeaways

Getting into the world of men’s bracelets can be complex at first. Luckily, I’ve had my fair share of jewelry choices, so you don’t have to. My years of personal style development and research help, too.

Styling a bracelet correctly is about having an eye for detailed quality, a flattering metal, and the finesse of layering. By paying close attention to the bracelet’s design, packaging, material composition, and how it ties into your personal brand, choosing one won’t seem as daunting. Don’t be afraid to experiment, either.

Wearing bracelets as a man can either look like you’ve grabbed bootleg pieces from the grocery store vending machine or like you know how to stylishly accessorize with the finest chains.

If you’re just dipping your feet into the bracelet look, knowing what’s good vs. God awful can feel like a cram session on jewelry terminology.

Karats, metal alloys, link patterns—do I need to be a Swiss-educated jeweler just to find a nice bracelet to complete a look?

In this guide, we’ll examine the main things to keep in mind as you shop around for your next piece of luxury jewelry or figure out how to style the ones you already own.

Ignore the minutiae, as I’m only covering the details between three main topics: Distinguishing quality, finding the right metal for you, and how to layer bracelets like a master.

Finally, I wrap it up with some visual aids to illustrate what I mean.

Once all said and done, you’ll have the CliffsNotes on having a well-decorated wrist.

Spot The Good Stuff

Love Knot Jewelry all packages 1

If you’ve ever visited a big city, you’ll remember the endless stalls of “seemingly” nice jewelry.

Upon closer inspection, the goods quickly lose their shine. Chains sold by the yard, a lack of display cases, and ruby-eyed lion pendants set off the alarms for cheap costume jewelry.

The signs of poor quality won’t always be obvious.

A brand with luxury packaging signals beautiful contents inside. It means they’re proud of their work, and they need quality packaging to honor their metalwork.

The Adult Man John Hardy Love Knot Bracelet On Hand 800

One of my favorite men’s jewelry brands, John Hardy, does this very well. I picked up a bracelet, necklace, and ring from them, and the box they came in was spectacular.

John Hardy Love Knot Bracelet

Infused with John Hardy’s Indonesian heritage, the Love Knot Bracelet is a standout piece that I can wear with anything. Every clasp should be strong, but rarely are they as ornate as the Love Knot’s. Other than it occasionally pinching my arm hair, I’m stoked to wear it for days on end.

Check Price

Each piece had its own cloth pouch that nestled perfectly inside of a custom box. Knowing that their pieces can last a lifetime, they threw in a branded polishing cloth too.

As a former naive college kid, I thought nobody would know my rope-chain bracelets shipped in a ziplock bag. That was until my wrist started turning green.

Learn from my mistakes and pay attention to the metal composition.

Anything labeled “gold-plated” will be shiny at first, but it’ll rapidly decline into a sad, tarnished mess. You can bet jewelry with a copper or bronze base will have your wrists Hulk green, too.

Considering there’s only enough platinum in the world to fill an average-sized living room, I won’t waste my breath. If you’re considering a platinum bracelet, you probably don’t need my advice anyway.

Let’s look at the most common metals to consider for your next bracelet:

Gold

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14K gold is the most common grade you’ll see from brands. It’s pricey, but it holds value and won’t result in any embarrassing discoloration.

Higher karat gold is gorgeous, but the softness of gold makes it weak to scrapes and dings.

Silver

Love Knot Bracelet

.925 silver is another metal that won’t affect skin color. It also retains value, but it won’t always retain its chrome-like luster.

Because silver is more sensitive to moisture, it’ll slowly tarnish. However, periodically using a polishing wipe or ultrasonic jewelry cleaner can save your trips to the jeweler.

Stainless Steel

Stainless steel marries hassle-free maintenance, durable strength, and a reasonable price. It’s the least expensive between the three, but a good stainless steel bracelet can endure long periods of water exposure without any cosmetic effects.

Finally, take special notice of the hardware. The clasp should feel secure but easy to move. If it feels flimsy or too stubborn to fasten, it could mean a lost or broken bracelet.

Figure Out Which Metal Looks Best On You

The Steel Shop franco link bracelet with undone cali watch

Jewelry, regardless of metal, looks good on everyone with the right execution, but like glasses frames and hat shapes, some things work better than others.

Skin tone plays a big role in the presentation of a bracelet. I tan quickly in the sun, and the difference in my skin tone between July and December is stark.

When I’m with friends during the summer, I’ve always gotten way more compliments on my silver jewelry than gold. That’s because my tanned skin provides a nice contrast to the light metal. During the dark winter months, gold jewelry adds a warm presence that my chronically indoor skin lacks.

Experimenting with different metals can reveal which type compliments your skin tone the best. Silver, gold, and platinum are neutral enough to wear with anything, but finding “the one” will invite more eyes to your bling.

Material Matters 

The Steel Shop 6mm leather bracelet with franco link stacked against flannel

I’ve always leaned towards materials that carry a story. Ariat cowboy boots have become a signature footwear choice of mine, and each scuff is a welcomed scar from a memorable adventure or memory-less night out.

A leather bracelet is durable, comfortable, and develops a tenured patina with that same rugged character.

Design Defines

Love Knot Bracelet on Wrist
My John Hardy Love Knot Brace

Bracelet designs can range from distinct to wildly unremarkable. 

Nothing is wrong with either, depending on what you’re going for, but finding a balance between personal expression and understated elegance is a surefire way to A+ accessorizing.

A recent score of mine is the Love Knot Bracelet from John Hardy. It’s a simple bracelet from a distance, but close up, the ornate metalwork really jumps off the page. The chiseled clasp gets tons of compliments, and the woven chains elevate and exude luxury above the plain bracelets in my jewelry box.

To sum it up, you should look for what I call a “reserved head-turner.”

Appearance Aligns 

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The appearance of your bracelet should complement your daily wardrobe

I found that silver and gold tones offer versatility, adapting to both casual and formal wear. 

If I’m not in the mood for eye-rolling watch conversations at formal gatherings but I still want a metallic edge to my outfit, a freshly polished .925 silver bracelet pairs wonderfully with my black suits.

The width of the bracelet also plays a role. Slimmer bands suit understated elegance, while wider ones boldly declare your presence. On those goldilocks days where it’s warm enough for a plain white tee but cool enough for jeans, opting for a larger bracelet is a killer statement piece on an otherwise laid-back outfit.

Learn To Layer

Layering bracelets wasn’t always my thing. I preferred the simplicity of a single band.

I didn’t want a crowded wrist full of clunky wood, metal, leather, or a combination of the three.

It wasn’t until a trip to Hawaii that I saw all of the suave surfer dudes on the beach with their salt-encrusted wrist of beads.

Maybe I’m not that cool, but I’ve formulated a hit-list of ways to achieve a coherent set of bracelets.

Start with a Base 

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The first step into layering begins with a standout bracelet. Something with a charm that has personal meaning, a precious gemstone, or complex chain design—links that will really woo the crowd.

With that as the foundation, you can incorporate straightforward bracelets to showcase the main attraction.

One look that I’m drawn to is a number of typical bracelets dressed down with a charmingly unserious bracelet—two silver chains and you and your homeboy’s friendship bracelet from elementary school.

Casual, sure. But it’s the story that gives it meaning.

Textures and Metals

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Combining textures and metals is where the magic happens in layering bracelets. But without a calculated approach, it can look like a fishing net snagged your wrist.

Some might argue it’s a cardinal sin to mix metals, but some of the world’s finest jewelers design top-sellers with a blend of silver, gold, and other materials.

The rule of thumb is to pick one key metal and add a different colored metal as an accent. A thin, gold bracelet adds a rich pop to 3-4 silver bracelets or vice versa. 

For an even richer contrast, you could add one to a series of natural bracelets. The burly texture of a wooden bead bracelet lays a base for a flat, lustrous metal band.

Vary Widths

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Striking bracelets paired with different metals or textures will surely emphasize the layered look, but incorporating bracelets of varying widths is another point of visual interest. 

I often pair a wider cuff with thinner, more delicate chains. The difference in width delivers the appeal of layering even when my outfit doesn’t mesh with a combination of texture or metal.

5 Stylish Bracelet Outfits

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This user graduated with a PhD in layering. While there isn’t one centerpiece, the all-silver array of bracelets contrasted with a black leather band is coherent. Add on the multitude of chain designs and you’re looking at a masterclass of personal expression.

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You see this guy? He knows how to dress himself with his bracelet in mind. A crisp black tee, while simple, instantly becomes a canvas for a thick silver bracelet with a fierce dragon-inspired clasp.

Extra points for matching it with his rings.

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This man is brave to partner an already stellar timepiece with a bracelet, but man, he pulled it off.

Pairing a metal-band watch with matching chains is easy. The nylon rope matches perfectly with the colored dial, and the anchor motif aligns with the diving watch’s nautical spirit.

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This wrist shot is a perfect example of keeping a uniform color palette while the textures do the talking. I love the marbled exterior of the beads, but my favorite part is the Hamsa charm.

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This bracelet is a modern take on the elongated open-link chain, and I’m here for it. It’s industrial, yet classy enough to accessorize seamlessly with formal wear.

Conclusion

I love a good bracelet, be it a gold box chain, braided leather rope, or sterling silver cuff.

Knowing what I know now, I always check the metal composition first. There’s no disappointment like a girl asking you about your emerald-tinted wrists.

Shoddy packaging should always put your crap-radar on high alert. If you’re not impressed by the box it comes in, chances are the bracelet itself will be underwhelming.

Knowing which metal my skin compliments my skin has saved me from tons of wasted dough. It’s all about contrast.

That doesn’t mean you can’t have range. Choosing bracelets based on your outfit offers a host of options. Even if sterling silver blends into my pale skin, dressing it around a dark outfit is bound to garner attention.

Layering bracelets is my favorite part. Throwing together bracelets of varying width, material, and design is food for my creative mind. And with the guidelines I listed here, you’ll know exactly how to get your wrists looking straight-up ornamental.

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