Style Guide: How To Choose A Bracelet

Why Do People Wear Bracelets?

Since ancient times, humans have used jewellery to decorate themselves, display their wealth, and communicate meaningful symbols. These reasons are, of course, much the same today: you might choose an intricate metal chain because you think it’s pretty, or a diamond bracelet to emulate a celebrity.

When it comes to symbols, brand logos have generally replaced the stamps of pre-modern artisans. But people still wear bracelets to show what’s important to them, through the use of symbolic gemstones, medical id tags, prayer beads, or messages that are literally engraved on the bracelet.

Things To Look For When Choosing A Bracelet

Here are a few tips to consider when looking for your next bracelet!

Consider your wrist size

Should you go bold and chunky like these stacked bracelets, or sleek and delicate like beautiful string bracelets. Before we get into matters of taste and style, think about which type of bracelet will look better against the backdrop of your arm, wrist, and hand. When we say the bracelet should match your wrist size, we’re not just talking about whether it fits around your wrist.

The width of the band, the size of the beads and embellishments, and apparent weight of the bracelet all matter too. You want to choose a bracelet that complements your appearance, which is why it’s important to consider your bone structure. That way, you’ll know whether to look for one that’s wide or narrow, simple or extravagant, and solid or delicate. Then you can use your bracelets to accentuate or camouflage your wrist.

For example, a man with small wrists might choose a sleek double wrap leather bracelet. This will complement his features, unlike an enormous wide braided hemp bracelet, which would only overwhelm his frame. Meanwhile, a woman with small wrists might want a bold byzantine or chunky link chain bracelet instead of a narrow single strand leather bracelet because the former will make her wrists look even smaller by comparison.

How to determine your wrist size

Try wrapping your thumb and index finger around the opposite wrist. If you can touch your thumb and forefinger together with extra space, you’re small-boned; if they just touch, you’re medium-boned; and if they don’t quite meet, you’re large-boned.

Also look for the bones on the outside of your wrists: are they prominent, or barely noticeable? Are your fingers long and slender, short and sausage-like, or somewhere in between? Use your answers to these questions to guide you in choosing your bracelets.

Remember these guiding principles:

  1. To make your wrists look proportional to the rest of your frame, choose a bracelet size that matches your wrist size. E.g. Wide, chunky bracelets for large well-padded wrists, or small, delicate bracelets for narrow bony wrists.
  2. To make your wrists look even smaller or larger, choose a bracelet size that’s the opposite of your wrist size. E.g. Large bracelets for small wrists, or small bracelets for large wrists.
  3. To make your wrists look more balanced or closer to the average size, choose a bracelet that neither emphasizes through sameness nor highlights through contrast. E.g. Medium-sized bracelets for all wrist sizes.

SO IF YOU’RE A WOMAN WITH LARGE WRISTS AND YOU WANT THEM TO LOOK SMALLER…

DO

  • Medium-width bangles in stone, cord, leather, or metal – wear them alone or stack them up, but be aware that more than three might get distracting.
  • Flat woven bracelets – leather, macrame, rope, or shamballa all work.

DON’T

  • Anything bold, chunky, cuff-style, or wide – surely the number one way to make big wrists look bigger.
  • A thin, delicate metal gold chain or silver charm wire, or a narrow open bangle – any one of these worn alone will probably look like a tiny river snaking across the vast tundra of your arm.
  • Large round beaded bracelets like those from the mala beads, prayer beads, or spiritual bracelet collections – these can be ok if the beads are small-to-medium, but the way the large ones stick out might add bulk.

IF YOU’RE A MAN WITH SMALL WRISTS AND YOU WANT THEM TO LOOK LARGER…

DO

  • Double-wrapped leather bracelets – these are the perfect size to camouflage boniness without looking too wide.
  • Medium-sized round beaded bracelets – these are also a great opportunity to pick a stone that symbolizes something important to you.
  • Bracelets with hefty metal charms and closures, like those from the nautical and cork collections – the charms add textural interest without being too bulky.

DON’T

  • Too-wide bracelets, like triple-stranded roman warrior men’s bracelets or multi-wrapped leather bracelets.
  • Enormous chains, like chunky gold links or bicycle chain bracelets. If you insist upon chains, mid-sized Cuban links or scale chain bracelets would be better.

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