Women have been stacking on bangles since Cleopatra sported an armful (or two) of gold snake bracelets . And recently, bloggers and fashionistas have put this adornment idea on steroids, combining string bracelets, chunky watches and multiple bangles. Leandra Medine of Man Repeller regularly throws herself what she dubs an arm party (#armparty), and there are countless Pinterest hits on wrist bling overload.
The bracelet pile up can be particularly dramatic — and joyfully noisy — in warm months, when you’re more likely to flash a bit of wrist. But what’s the key to wearing a glut of bracelets without coming across like a fortune teller or fashion victim?
First, don’t be too timid — one skinny bracelet (think those 1990s diamond tennis numbers) says, “style wimp” while “wearing multiple bracelets allows you show your personal style,” says Kelli Wilson, buying director for the local boutique chain Lou Lou , which sells dozens of examples from princess-y gems to are-we-in-Ibiza? beaded varieties. The shops even hawk Hipanema’s Brazilian-style, multi-strand bracelets that mimic a heap of jewelry in one piece.
Then, think outside the jewelry box. “You can do a mash-up of all one type of bracelets, say tribal or beaded, but I prefer an unexpected contrast like a chunky horn bracelet with a dainty vintage charm bracelet,” says Anna Kahoe, co-owner of U Street’s GoodWood , a vintage furniture emporium that also sells romantic, retro-looking bracelets and cuffs by brands like Alkemie and Extasia. Kahoe also likes merging vintage finds — maybe a few of her dozens of Bakelite bangles — with new pieces. “It’s like what you’d do in your home,” she says.
“The fun thing about wearing multiple bracelets is that there are no rules,” says Wilson. Still, she recommends you “pick pieces that reflect your style, whether that’s boho chic or classy and simple.” In other words, if you’re a corporate lawyer, you might want to skip the forearm full of studs and leather until after you make partner.
Me, I heap on seven or eight bangles most summer days — three ebony wood and brass beauties I scored in a Moroccan marketplace, plus several colorful, recycled plastic ones from Burkina Faso . The combo nearly always sparks a conversation or draws a compliment, especially if my manicure isn’t chipping.
And no wonder: “Bracelets draw the eye to really pretty parts of a woman’s body, the wrists and hands,” says Kahoe. “They’re having a moment.”
Post by Jennifer Barger (www.jennbarger.com, @dcjnell)