Esther Watson

Men, please take off your necklaces

It’s mainstream and boring

  • From Spectator Life
Paul Mescal in Normal People (Enda Bowe/Hulu)

Vogue recently announced that Harry Styles had travelled to Normandy where he had his portrait painted by the British artist David Hockney. It wasn’t the meeting of two cultural icons that caught my attention, or the fact that the unphased Hockney described the world’s biggest popstar as ‘just another person that came into the studio’, but instead it was Styles’s sartorial choices. 

The gym bros I went to school with are downing a protein shake in pretty pearl necklaces

Styles has long been associated with the gender-bending fashion trend we have seen in recent years. From sheer pussybow blouses, dangly earrings, extravagant tulle dresses and what has become his go-to accessory, a pearl necklace, Styles is loud and proud about embracing femininity. He can get away with it. Not just because he’s a superstar but because he is beautiful and beautiful people can get away with almost anything.

Styles is undeniably a good-looking man. Show me someone that disagrees and I’ll show you a liar. But sitting in a wicker chair, face to face with David Hockney, in a bright striped cardigan and a chunky pearl necklace, Styles was dressed more like a primary school teacher than a rockstar. Of course, men wearing jewellery isn’t new. Blokes in ancient Egypt wore jewellery. And King Henry VIII’s collection would have made Kim Kardashian weep with envy. But never before has male ornamentation gone so mainstream. It’s inescapable, from established Hollywood royalty like Brad Pitt to actual royalty: one of Prince Harry’s complaints about his brother and future King was that he broke his necklace in a physical altercation.

In 2015, men’s fashion week was launched for the first time in New York and since then we have seen an increase in gender fluidity.

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