Perhaps the greatest thing about living in the 21st century is the perfect freedom to express yourself, through language, literature, art, music, style and fashion. Yet, even if I argue that the 2010s is the epitome of boldness and forwardness, many of us – men – are still reluctant to wear what we want, because we take social norms too seriously.
Social norms are informal understandings of order that are built upon values, customs and traditions; they are common perceptions and expectations towards how we should behave appropriately, in accordance with our place in society. Such anticipations may stop us from acting out our desires, due to the fear of being different and singular. When speaking on fashion, the notion that men should not wear jewellery has directly intimidated our expression of style, in which many will routinely avoid jewellery even if it is a superb fashion item for many occasions. Furthermore, norms differ between countries; you may have observed, in Asian countries, the general public seems to think that jewellery ‘endangers’ masculinity. To which I argue, if masculinity is so shallowly defined and ‘threatened’ by the clothes and ornaments we put on our bodies, then what do spiritual qualities of adulthood like agility, mindfulness and responsibility count towards? If society continues to endorse and be addicted to only certain types of physical traits and not all, we would truly fail to grow as our own man.
Contrastingly, I think jewellery could be anything you want it to be. They can be feminine, masculine, fashionable, classy, graceful – it all depends on your attitude and perspective. I encourage you to disregard superficial social norms and ‘manipulate’ fashion, the only criterion is if the item fulfils your desires and style cravings. Initially, it may be difficult to do so because pigeonholes of thoughts could easily make us less than who we are, smaller than our personality. But, my principle is never let an item define you, let fashion channel your truth.
Men’s jewellery comes in different categories, including bracelets, necklaces, rings, earrings and bangles. More conservative men who are still slightly awkward with wearing jewellery may want to begin with bracelets, bangles and necklaces, for they are often minimalistic yet stylish, and most importantly, not much effort is required to mix and match them with an outfit. Alternatively, rings and earrings are for those who are more comfortable with the idea of fully expressing themselves through the details of their looks; fashion experts have always said that there is a sense of charm and sensuality when a man is confident in what they wear.
One of Hip Hop’s biggest fashion icon ASAP Rocky is certainly unafraid of experimenting with jewellery, his statement silver and gold necklaces have become a fundamental part of his appearances. On breaking the norms, he said ‘everybody has their individuality, so you just gotta make it work for you. I no longer concern myself with what everybody's doing and how they do it. I don’t even care anymore.’ Such self-assurance is more ‘masculine’ than conforming to superficial knowledge that people make out of social norms. To show off your uniqueness does require courageousness and the attitude of ‘I don’t even care anymore’ – at the end of the day, if it looks good and makes you feel good, feel free to break out of a pattern.
Norms don’t matter. Celebrate masculinity and wisdom in being yourself. Jewellery is one of my favourite decorative fashion objects, it accurately represents a mood or a vibe. Ultimately, it plays a part in my visual presence and physically preserves my personality.
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