Bracelets for Men That Complement Any Outfit
There was a time, not very long ago, when the western world looked dubiously on a man wearing a bracelet. At best, it was a style reserved for dads displaying the summer camp craft projects of their precious progeny or for kind people using their wrists to lend a hand in raising awareness of a disease.
At worst, bracelets on men suggested that the wearer was a bookie, a procurer, a shifty playboy, or a trying-too-hard countercultural peacock. Exceptions could be granted, in certain contexts, to 1950s youngsters pairing ID bracelets with letter sweaters, to Euros matching Cartier “Love” bracelets with private jets, and to aficionados of Navajo jewelry actively vacationing in Taos, N.M.
Things have changed. Approval of carpal decoration took off in 2012 when, according to the shopping site Mr Porter, “the sale of men’s accessories skyrocketed, spearheaded by what was then a new trend for men’s bracelets.” Haute bohemians in the pop-cultural community have led the charge: Kanye West, Channing Tatum, David Beckham—you cannot swing a mesh chain without hitting a star who does not favor the style. Most, moreover, find ways to wear them that are more varied, more interesting, and less overdone than the gaudy pirate mode favored by Johnny Depp.
The rules used to state that you should never contrast the beach cool of a bead bracelet with the formality of a business suit. But even those have begun to erode. For instance, I’m sitting here looking at a KitchenAid advertisement in the current issue of a food magazine. The ad is clearly making a pitch to self-styled rebels: The model is wearing a beaded bracelet and a leather wrap bracelet on one arm while the other bastes a hunk of meat in a Le Creuset pot with red wine—brace yourself for this hedonistic vision—poured straight from his glass. “It’s your playground,” the marketing copy proclaims. “You make the rules.”
But though they’re everywhere, it’s not necessarily easy to find one that’s right for you.
I felt the itch to acquire one, partly out of the primitive need for self-adornment, but also out of a desire to put something on my right hand to balance the wristwatch and wedding ring on my left. Though I admire the gleam of onyx and the allure of lapis lazuli, I ruled out bead bracelets as a tad too relaxed—too tribal, too surf-bummy, too ostentatiously shamanistic—for my personal taste, despite the rainbow of charming options available from Isaia and other top brands.
Bear in mind, though, when shopping for bead bracelets, the cruel truth that many makers can employ quality materials, yet not consistently deploy the best design taste. A case in point is David Yurman. When the brand keeps it simple, stupid, as with this black onyx number, it’s beautiful. When it goes gaudy, as with a skull bracelet with black diamonds, it’s just stupid.
I also considered many fine leather bracelets on the market. If that's your thing, seek out Hermes on the ultra-fly high end and Wood and Faulk for a simple wrist wrap at a price point that belies the quality of its hardware. But it somehow didn’t seem right to start my journey into wrist accessories with an animal material. No disrespect! As I say, the superfluity of this decision intensifies its idiosyncrasy. Though tending toward the rock star or motorcycle gang member looks, leather cuffs are now eminently respectable in all relatively unstuffy circumstances.
For me, a metal cuff bracelet seemed the way to go. Yet I found myself frustrated that the wide variety of attractive models made by industry leader Miansai and its competitors either didn’t fit my wrist very well or didn’t fit my wallet at all, given the experimental nature of this non-essential acquisition.
Then I lucked upon Studebaker Metals, and luck seemed an appropriate value, give the faint occult nature of these charms. The company operates its workshop in Pittsburgh, where founders Michael Studebaker and Alyssa Catalano became partners in business and life after meeting on a dating app in 2013. He had a background in metalsmithing and a workshop where he was tinkering with a handmade twisted cuff; she had a resume heavy with retail experience—and the insight that they could make accessories suitable for the heritage movement that then was flourishing.
Studebaker offers unisex cuff bracelets in four sizes, ranging from small (6 inches) to XL (7.5 inches). While some high-end makers of leather bracelets offer sizing, it is rare to find a metal cuffs in such a variety; Catalano recognized the need for such sizing on the basis of her earlier career as a buyer at Urban Outfitters. “Most bracelets, if not all, came in one size, and it was seven inches, even the ones marketed toward women,” she said. It opens up the market to people who either find cuffs too tight to wear comfortably or, on the other end, who find that a cuff does “that cartoon spinning-around-your-wrist thing,” she said.
In brass, pure copper, and sterling silver, a majority of Studebaker’s off-the-shelf cuffs cost less than $100; their 18-carat gold cuffs, which start at $3,200, are custom-sized. They are among the companies reporting that copper has caught up with brass in popularity as a metal, and that polished metals are now keeping pace with those that sport a patina. “There are more types of men into bracelets now, and that has led to more people being interested in polished bracelets,” Catalano said. In moderation, bling’s the thing, and there’s no shame in it.