Is the shine too bright: Can men’s jewelry be too much?

Is the shine too bright: Can men’s jewelry be too much?

Q. This is probably a strange question, but how shiny can men’s jewelry be? My high-end watch is a bright gold and it sometimes seems too gaudy. I also am planning to have my wedding band cleaned and worry that it might be polished with too great a sheen. Is this something that doesn’t matter and would they clash with my blazer buttons?

A. I don’t think you should worry about a bright gold watch or a wedding band. These single items are too small and too expected to be concerned about. Even a larger watch – from Timex to Bulova, up to Rolex, and beyond – shouldn’t be any more ostentatious polished than dull. 

That said, your question is a logical one, especially since men own and wear so many items that can shine: a watch, a ring, blazer buttons, cufflinks, studs, a tie clasp, a belt buckle, even an occasional earring. I agree that it is wise to avoid too much glitter and shine. Shiny cufflinks, tie clasps, and belt buckles are not usually a problem. My concern is much more with items that come in multiples, as with shiny brass blazer buttons, or with items that I don’t like to see on a man at all, whether shiny or not.

Besides my basic distaste for pinky rings, long chains, and bracelets on men, I have never been a big fan of brass buttons on a navy blazer. Not that they are wrong. Their casual, nautical air may be what bothers me, but mostly, they just seem to create too many eye-catching points of light that call too much attention to the shine. 

Within limits, tasteful changes are certainly possible. Although the most traditional and expected blazer buttons are shiny brass (either plain or with an insignia), replacing them with some fine alternative buttons can make a huge difference in a blazer’s personality and individuality. 

Personally, I much prefer quiet dark suit buttons on a blazer for year ‘round wear. They have less shine and are less distracting than metal buttons.

If you are open to changing from standard shiny brass buttons (which I suspect you were describing), here are a few options:

  • Choose another, less-expected metal, such as a not-too-shiny silvery/pewter finish. This is an excellent choice for the man whose watch and belt buckle are silver or stainless.
  • Dark suit buttons. These are generally thought of as hipper “downtown” dressing, a bit fashion-forward and stylish. They tend to make a blazer dressier and more elegant. Men who favor this look are less British and more European/Italian designer in their approach to dressing.
  • Dark colored-enamel buttons are the most unusual. They definitely make a statement that the wearer is a self-assured and knowledgeable dresser. Since blazers do not come equipped with enamel buttons, it’s apparent that the owner made an effort to find them and have them sewn on.
  • Here’s another thought: replacing the dark buttons during warm weather months with dapper white mother-of-pearl buttons. It is an especially good idea if you own more than one navy blazer. This non-typical choice looks terrific in the summer, worn with lightweight trousers, especially white wool or white cotton. They have a dapper air which some men might find dandified, but for the fashion-aware guy, they can be great. (He must remember to replace them on Labor Day with metal or suit buttons.)Since a navy blue blazer is an essential item in a well-dressed man’s wardrobe, it’s worth paying extra attention to such details as buttons. For little cost, you can change to something like the mother-of-pearl buttons; they can really make your wardrobe shine . . . in a good way.

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