The first ring I ever bought myself was to remind me of my time on a study abroad program in the UK. It was made in London, and was sterling silver with a large feather design wrapping the circumference of the ring. Most of time people were just interested in its design, where I got it and why. Honestly, it was often a blatant excuse just to bring up my trip and time abroad.
Sometimes a conversation starter on first dates, or in the office, the reactions from people tend to vary depending on the style-code they themselves abide by. Those who dress more ‘traditionally’ tend to make inquisitive comments, those more ‘radically’ – compliments.
I often wonder why men have such an aversion to taking more ‘risks’ by incorporating jewelry and other accessories into their daily wardrobe. Of course men are not a monolithic group – we all have different ways of expressing our personalities, masculinity and how we present ourselves to the world. So why should the way we dress be any different?
Men have traditionally a more limited set of styling options than women; with less ways to express oneself it can feel like you can’t be as expressive as you may want to be.
You can’t show the world who you are or who you want to be. Maybe you want to show off to the world. Maybe you don’t. But having the option never hurt, right?
Men’s aversion to wearing jewelry is just emblematic of men not feeling like they have the same tools, or closet so to speak, as women have when expressing themselves.
Fashion, no matter how you self-identify, should enable you to show who you are and how you live your life. Men and boys, just like women, are inundated with traditional ideas – yes, even in fashion — about how they should dress, act and present themselves. Accessories, such as rings, watches, bracelets & straps, earrings, chains, pins can all contribute to individualizing ourselves.
And that’s the power of jewelry – it sends a message to the world about who we are, how we see ourselves (self-identification) and even what kind of marital commitments we have made to others. In my opinion this subtle, or bold, statement is really the central function of jewelry; asides from watches which you know, tell the time.
It’s almost like jewelry is imbued with some kind of mystic quality. Certainly centuries of formal martial and dynastic (read: monarchies and other aristocracy) commitments would confirm this sentiment.
Jewelry, especially rings, is — for me — an eternal commodity. It is something that can represent a very specific time and emotion, and yet it is also able to traverse time. To age perfectly. It can change hands, generations, families and continents. It’s romantic in a sense. Clothing and other vetements can’t really do this, as they are both used and abused and have more identifiable life cycles.
Case in point: you buy a pair of jeans.
You wear them religiously for two or three years. They age alongside your life; rips, pleats, stains and streaks. Eventually they become a social or hygienic liability. You move onto your next pair of beloved denim. Emotional and physical value is eventually used up and spent.
The personal power of expression that comes with jewelry is something that I believe men have yet to really tap into. But as more expressive, media-savvy, young men challenge the standards that are supposed to ‘make up a man’, attitudes are changing too. The expectations of how a man should dress, and what kind of clothing is acceptable, really comes down to how we individualize ourselves. I know I can’t go full Jaden Smith for Louis Vuitton, but wearing jewelry is just one way of pushing back against these boxes, these restrictions.
We don’t need to conform to anyone’s expectation of how we should dress, what styles or codes are ‘appropriate only for women’. With so much devil-may-care attitude swirling around our Instagram feeds, is it time for more men to start experimenting with jewelry?
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