From red carpet to everyday trends, men’s chain necklaces are having their moment, building off momentum for more unisex, if not feminine-leaning, menswear.
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It doesn’t have to be made of gold – although that’s certainly common – but it does need to be visible. After all, what’s the point?
Creativity has remained at the forefront: Traditional yellow gets replaced by rose gold, pendants express your personality, and bigger links – or multiple layers – are meant to be seen, no matter if you’re heading out in a suit or a simple T-shirt and jeans.
Men’s chain necklaces have existed for a few centuries in various forms. Yet, their modern origins date back toward the middle of the 20th century, buoyed by dog tags, rock ‘n’ roll, hip hop, and occasional spurts of androgyny.
Through this mélange, they’ve become associated with wealth and decadence – be it ‘80s-era hip-hop stars sporting large rope chains or, in more recent memory, Harry Styles opting for long strings of pearls.
And, while modern-day social media definitely fuels the aspirational aura, the push has primarily come from brands themselves – including Prada, Balmain, and Raf Simons – building something appealing to both high-fashion and streetwear tastes.
Thus, to try the trend out yourself, begin with the following:
Chain Types & Our Recommendations
Pendant necklaces are the most accessible here, easily layered through varying lengths and metals.
The construction resembles a set of dog tags but with more individuality – think a thin chain extending anywhere from the collarbone to mid-chest with a medallion-like orb at the center.
Count on Ralph Lauren for a classic interpretation influenced by history. This option, made in the USA, features hand-hammered, unlacquered sterling silver construction inspired by World War II-era dog tags.
Bright yellow gold with a detailed three-dimensional rose-shaped charm might communicate traditional femininity at a glance, but CRAFTD London intended the design to be passionate and open to interpretation.
Rolo chains are essentially a pendant necklace without a pendant – a thin, narrow set of links meant to be worn over a shirt. They’re the most subtle and subsequently the easiest to attempt.
Zales provides a maximalist take (to a point) on this starter chain necklace, utilizing stainless steel with an antique finish for a vintage, classic appearance.
Tiffany’s gradually making its mark in the realm of men’s jewelry – don’t think they’re all about bracelets and pale blue boxes. This rolo chain necklace cements that with straightforward round links, a darker finish, and symbol inspired by the brand’s hollowware shop.
This what you picture when you think about a classic ‘80s hip-hop chain – large links in a spiral formation resembling a rope. Of course, this configuration doesn’t always have to be maximal, and today, rope chains come in varying widths and metals.
If the spiral formation catches your eye, but you want something a little less showy, this piece from Kay tones it down for everyday wear with sterling silver and a narrower width.
If you’re going for gold, this modest option from Saks gets you there with 14K and a semi-solid, narrower width.
Curb chains embody classic style, with round, flattened, interlocking links creating a sense of uniformity. For substance without flash, a medium-width curb chain tends to provide the ideal degree of visibility.
Keep it simple yet classic with this medium-width curb chain made of sterling silver – elevated enough yet still casual for sporting with a polo or T-shirt.
Versace has never been about unstated style – not even with a seemingly straightforward gold chain. Here, large, wide links are paired with a Medusa charm, while textured details take it up a level.
Figaro chains take the flattened curb design and break up the uniformity. Here, longer, oval-shaped links alternate with rounded shapes.
Truth be told, figaro chains give off early 2000s vibes in terms of style. So you don’t feel like you’re doing boyband cosplay, this 14K rose gold necklace from Frost NYC feels as if you’re trying out the trend in the present.
Box chains sound exactly as they imply – square-shaped creating a three-dimensional, angular effect. Due to this aspect, they’re primarily worn on a smaller scale for more structure.
This classic box chain opens up a few options: Wear it alone for some texture without seeming flashy, or use its length to add your own pendants to express your personality.
At a glance, you might confuse wheat with rope chains. Wheat chains, however, tend to have a braided formation, with links aligning to resemble a stalk of grain.
Curved links that appear to intertwine give this medium-width, thicker chain a three-dimensional effect.
Herringbone chains are another flat style, this time with links resembling a herringbone pattern on fabric or, as they move, scales on a fish.
Smooth out your style with this slinky, almost deceptively even-seeming chain featuring thin herringbone links.
How to Wear Men’s Chain Necklaces?
Whether a box or rolo chain resonates with you, try out this trend with the following tips:
- Think about thickness: Generally, the thicker the chain, the greater its statement appeal. Look for 2mm to 6mm for an everyday or pendant chain.
- Consider the length: Where do you want the chain and pendant to fall? For most men, 25 to 28 inches hits at the center of the chest. 18 to 22 inches, meanwhile, grazes or goes just below the collarbone. Anything shorter than this falls into choker territory.
- Determine your vibe: If you’re not viewing this trend strictly as a flash in the pan moment, you’ll ideally want to invest, particularly if you’re thinking about gold. Ideally look for 14K or higher alloys – plated or gold-toned can look cheap. Similarly, for silver, seek our sterling varieties, and put in the maintenance to avoid tarnishing.
- Know how the metals work with your wardrobe: Generally, gold’s brassier tones – even the softness offered by rose gold – pair better with darker shades. Silver, meanwhile, compliments neutrals like black, grays, and greens.