There are many good reasons to love jewelry, and many types of jewelry to love. You might have a special fondness for bracelets, a necklace that served as a family heirloom, or a set of custom gold grillz you wear when you want to make a statement. But obviously, not all types of jewelry are appropriate for all occasions, and if you’re new to the world of fashion, it may be confusing to speculate about which pieces are appropriate for which occasions.
In this guide, we’ll explore several prospective occasions, and the etiquette for wearing jewelry in each of them.
In a truly casual gathering, you shouldn’t have to worry too much about the type of jewelry you’re wearing. This is especially true if you know everybody who’s going to be there, or if you’ve been to this type of event before. Rather than focusing on the formality of your jewelry, simply focus on how it looks from an aesthetic point of view. Do you like how you look while wearing these pieces? Do you like the way they make you feel? Chances are, if you like the way you look and feel good wearing it, everyone else will respond positively, regardless of the specifics.
If you’re thinking about wearing jewelry to the workplace, you should know that jewelry is, in general, both acceptable and flattering to your professional look. However, there are three things you’ll need to keep in mind:
- Match. Your jewelry should match the rest of your attire. If you have a ring, necklace, bracelet, or other item that stands out with a strongly different color than the rest of your attire, it could be considered distracting—or reflective of a lack of attention to detail.
- Number of accessories. In most work environments, fewer pieces of jewelry is better. There’s nothing wrong with wearing a pair of earrings and a necklace, but if you’re decorated in a dozen or more pieces of jewelry, it could be considered poor taste or inappropriate.
- Minimal style. Another general rule is to shoot for a minimal style. Big stones, flashy items, or unusual pieces aren’t typically appreciated in a formal office setting. Simpler is better.
Note that these rules and your expectations should be modified by your office dress code; some workplaces are stricter than others.
Parties and Events
Parties and special events have the widest range of potential appropriateness, since there are many different types of parties that you could attend, each with a different level of formality. Still, there are some general rules you can follow:
- Focus on 1-2 pieces. Even if the dress code leans casual, it’s a good idea to focus your attention on one or two main pieces. These pieces of jewelry should serve as complements to the rest of your outfit, and really draw the eye. If you have other pieces of jewelry you want to wear, feel free, but make sure they play into the look of these central pieces without competing.
- Don’t be afraid to be flashy. In most events, especially more casual ones, it’s completely acceptable to wear something flashy—as long as you’re not upstaging someone or compromising the intentions of the event. This is especially true if you have an entire outfit planned around a specific, unusual piece. Trust your instincts here; standing out can be a good thing, but you don’t want to be seen as obnoxious or ignorant of the event’s rules.
- Play to the event. Finally, adjust your jewelry selections based on the nature of the event. Most events will specifically inform you of the dress code, giving you guidance on what you should wear. Some events will have a specific theme, or request a specific type of attire. These official designations should be your main priority, and should dictate your selections.
Weddings are a bit of a special case, sometimes belonging under the “formal event” category, and sometimes being a somewhat more casual get-together. There are also some special etiquette considerations—for example, you don’t want to outshine the bride or bridal party. In general, try to stay away from diamond jewelry, and don’t wear anything to make a statement; instead, focus on small pieces, and try to wear something classy, like pearls.
Even with a guide like this and some experience under your belt, there will be occasions where the dress code or jewelry policy is ambiguous. If you’re not sure what’s appropriate for a given event, err on the side of dressing conservatively. Fewer pieces with fewer embellishments will likely work in your favor. You can also talk to friends or hosts in advance of the event or occasion to make sure you have the right idea.