Men’s jewelry has long symbolized status, fashion, and self. While for some men, jewelry, especially chains, has long been associated with special occasions and dressing up, it can be worn effortlessly anytime; from casual occasions to flashy affairs, men’s jewelry is appropriate anytime, anywhere, and in any setting.
With the rise of rap and hip-hop in the 1980s, men’s jewelry became a staple in men’s casual fashion. The hip-hop group Run DMC and rapper LL Cool J introduced a fresh take on men’s jewelry with “bigger and flashier” as their unspoken mantra. This 1980s breakthrough in men’s jewelry has continued to proliferate.
Today, men commonly wear chains with casual attire, even atop winter outerwear, to accessorize and exhibit personal style. If the idea of wearing your gold chains with streetwear is a new one, check out these styling tips for this winter.
The Different Types of Chains
Before you can start styling your chains, make sure your collection is up to snuff. With so many chain styles to choose from, however, knowing which chain best suits your style may be overwhelming. Check out this breakdown of popular men’s chain styles for a better idea of what works for you.
Cuban Link Chain
Likely the most popular men’s chain style, the Cuban link chain was popularized in the late 1970s. This style is a thick, textured one with a unique pattern of interlocking links. Closely associated with the rise of hip-hop, the Cuban link is big, bold, and flashy.
The gold rope chain is thought to have roots in ancient Egypt. This chain style twists strands of interlocking links to give it a rope-like texture and aesthetic. The rope chain is an understated style that’s typically layered with bigger chains; it’s also commonly used to anchor a pendant.
Originating in Italy, the Franco chain was domesticated stateside in the 1980s. This chain has V-shaped links that are arranged in a boxy, textured style. Franco chains are strong, durable, and versatile.
The Figaro chain has its roots in 18th-century Italy; it’s a link chain that typically follows the pattern of three smaller oval links followed by a larger oval link. It can be worn alone or layered with a pendant. It’s not uncommon to see its links iced out with diamonds.
Another style with ancient Egyptian roots, the herringbone chain is intricate and delicate. It features closely laid parallel links that lay flat against the chest. The chain is named for the links’ resemblance to herring fish bones.
Named so because they were first worn by sailors and fishermen, the mariner chain is now popular in men’s fashion. The mariner chain is crafted of interlocking oval links with each oval featuring a solid bar down its center.
This chain style is thick, sturdy, and textured. Despite its gruff, masculine aesthetic, the Byzantine is a highly intricate and delicate design that gives a rope-like appearance. It is constructed from three interconnecting links.
How to Wear Chains with Casual Attire
The truth is there’s no right or wrong way to wear chains. Wear your chains in a way that makes you feel confident and a way that allows you to express your style. However, if you’re new to styling chains, here are some of our favorite tips.
Start with Neutral Colors
Neutral color palettes lend themselves beautifully to all metals and styles of men’s chains. While chains also look beautiful against bold colors, there’s something timeless about the look of gold, silver, or rose gold against a beautiful beige, gray, navy, or black shirt. A neutral foundation allows your chain to stand out and be the star of your outfit, unlike the distraction bold colors and busy patterns can cause.
Experiment with Layering
Layering chains is a trend that’s here to stay. This means you can showcase much of your bling at once. When layering your chains, there are a few unspoken rules you should follow. Always layer different styles and textures; layering the same chain style in different lengths or weights is a no, no. However, layering different lengths and weights in different styles is what layering chains is all about. For example, a 16-inch thin rope chain layered with an 18-inch, thick Figaro chain, and a 20-inch Franco chain with a pendant is one way to perfectly layer your drip.
Choose Your Focal Points
Whether layering your chains or opting for the simplicity of a single chain, decide on your outfit’s focal point. If you’re choosing to accessorize your winter wardrobe with a chain, that chain should always serve as one of your focal points. When someone’s eyes zero in on your upper torso, it should be drawn to your high-end jewelry. During the winter months don’t be afraid to wear your chains atop your sweater or outside of your hoodie or outerwear. Just like your kicks or a belt might be the focal point of your lower body, a chain (or many) should be the focal point of your upper body.
Chains for Any Season or Attire
No matter the time of year or your attire, men’s chains are always in style. Feel confident styling chains with casual gear, atop outerwear, and with other chains and pendants. Gone are the days of men’s jewelry only coming out for special occasions. The days of integrating your chains and other jewelry pieces into the fabric of your everyday wardrobe are here to stay.