Gender-neutral clothing and dressing fluidly has seen more representation and support in mainstream fashion over the past few years (and rightly so), with fashion houses such as Maison Margiela producing unisex collections and department stores like Selfridges offering genderless shopping sections. Jewellery though is a whole different ball game. While male celebrities have been seen embracing traditionally ‘female-oriented’ pieces, such as Harry Styles wearing ‘feminine’ necklaces and earrings, this notion is relatively new and has still not been embraced by traditional-thinking online trolls and Daily Mail readers.
The rise of gender-bending men’s jewellery in mainstream fashion can’t be discussed without recognizing the impact hip-hop and rap artists have had on the trend way before Harry Styles was born. Since the late 70s and early 80s, artists, such as DJ Kool Herc, LL Cool J and Run-D.M.C., have shown off their over-the-top ice but more so as a sign of excessive wealth rather than to challenge societal gender norms. Think of T-Pain’s ‘Big Ass Chain’ necklace. I mean, that really was a big ass chain. In more recent years, rappers such as Lil Uzi Vert, Tyler, The Creator and A$AP Rocky have continued to carry the torch and have put their middle fingers up to imaginary gender boxes and expressed themselves through, again what a traditionalist might call, ‘feminine’ options.
Back to Harry Styles. Known for his overall gender-bending wardrobe, he catapulted granny’s pearls into mainstream fashion after his 2019 Met Gala look. The singular cream-pearl earring dangling from Harry’s lobe became a big trend throughout 2020. Pearl earrings, pearl rings, pearl necklaces… It seemed as though everyone only just discovered the accessory. Brands like Gucci and Casablanca were quick to get on the trend and could not resist from sending a collection down the runway without the ‘it’ item.
Just like many fashion trends (think the knitted cardigan), the pearl necklace then made it to TikTok. E-boys were seen sporting it alongside other accessories such as cross earrings and bracelets. Though the abundance of ‘feminine’ necklaces, rings and earrings has seen (and will surely continue to see) huge success at the frontlines of fashion, a scroll through any of these guys’ Instagram or TikTok comment sections sadly shows how un-ready the world is for a unisex wardrobe. However, are angry conservatives and online trolls going to stop men from expressing themselves freely? I wouldn’t count on it.