Think (It) Over: How to Wear an Overly Large Bracelet

Does your jewelry wardrobe include an overly large bracelet? Perhaps it was a gift or something you couldn’t resist acquiring, but it slips over the top of your hand when you wear it. You wouldn’t wear a dress or a pair of pants several sizes too large, so why would you wear a bracelet that looks as though it was borrowed from someone with bigger bones?

Illustration: Actress Michelle Williams wearing a bracelet too large for her slender wrist, pictured in the Sept. 20, 2010 issue of People magazine.  

Your favorite jeweler may be able to shorten the bracelet for you, easily done with many link bracelets, but there are bracelets for which shortening is not an option. Bangle bracelets—so popular this season—cannot be shortened, and you may have other pieces you are loathe to modify, such as a signed designer piece, the value of which may be substantially affected by altering the design.   

There is another option: If the bracelet is overly large, wear it over a sleeve or a glove. A layer of leather or the textured fabric of a sleeve will give the bracelet something to which it might cling, and the resultant closer fit will be much more flattering. The fashion magazines are full of examples of this styling technique.

Thus, Elle magazine’s creative director, Joe Zee, reinvents a head-to-toe Chanel look from 1987 in styling a model in a leather vest by Alexander Wang, jeweled sweater by 3.1 Phillip Lim, and Chanel jewelry and gloves in the October 2010 issue of Elle. In both the vintage and the current styling, a Chanel cuff is featured. In the 1987 photo, the cuff is worn directly over a glove, but in the 2010 photo, it appears that the cuff is worn over the sleeve, and that the glove is tucked into the sleeve of the sweater, providing essentially two layers (sleeve plus glove) under the cuff bracelet.

Here’s a photo from the October 2010 issue of Harper’s Bazaar in which a stack of bracelets is worn on one wrist, a pair of bracelets on the other, over the sleeves of a lace bodysuit by Dolce & Gabbana worn with a dress by those designers. The bracelets are from Roberto Cavalli, Kenneth Jay Lane, Elsa Peretti for Tiffany & Co., and Iradj Moini.

A current ad for St. John pictures a model styled alluringly with an animal print coat and gloves, over which are worn what appears to be several bracelets.

Here’s a look from the August 2010 issue of Glamour, which is notable for showing bracelets spaced over the elaborate cuffs of an Yves Saint Laurent blouse. The bracelets are from Elsa Peretti for Tiffany & Co. and Hermes.

The same “over” approach can be used with a non-adjustable bracelet-style wristwatch. Actress Cameron Diaz is pictured in the August 2010 issue of Harper’s Bazaar wearing a Cartier bracelet-style watch over gloves accessorizing her three-piece Marc Jacobs pantsuit, for a very chic look. The necklace is by Elizabeth & James; gloves are by Portolano Products; sunglasses are from Balenciaga by Nicolas Ghesquiere.  

Indeed, the look of wearing a watch or bracelet “over” is so chic that it is employed with wristwatches with leather straps, which of course are adjustable as to size via the watch’s buckle.

The September 2010 issue of Lucky magazine styled the above look with a Tag Heuer wristwatch worn over the sleeve of a cashmere turtleneck sweater by Mai. The graphic top is from French Connection, belt by Michael Kors and trousers by Apiece Apart; the large goldtone hoop earrings are from Icing by Claire’s.

The September 2010 issue of InStyle magazine pictured a runway look by Rag & Bone cleverly styled to cinch a thick, long scarf under a belt, and to place a wristwatch over a long-sleeve shirt.

This styling technique may have another application: If you experience sensitivity to certain metals against your skin and you have a bracelet that causes a reaction or discoloration to your skin, keeping a glove or sleeve between the bracelet and your wrist may provide a creative solution to allow you to enjoy wearing the piece. Think (it) over!