How To Wear Men’s Necklaces The Complete Guide

jhonny deep wearing multiple necklaces

Necklaces aren’t just for the ladies anymore; they’ve solidly secured a place in the men’s style landscape too. Whether it’s a simple chain or a statement pendant, a well-chosen necklace can add an extra dimension to any outfit, drawing attention and showcasing personal style. A necklace can be more than just an accessory – it can be a reflection of the man wearing it, a testament to his taste, and an expression of his character.

Yet, despite its appeal, the art of wearing a necklace is something many men find tricky. Maybe it’s because necklaces are still a relatively unexplored territory in the broader spectrum of men’s style, or perhaps it’s due to the multitude of styles and choices available, each with its own unwritten rules. Whatever the reason, navigating the world of men’s necklaces can seem a bit daunting.

But worry not. If you’ve ever found yourself considering incorporating a necklace into your fashion arsenal, this guide is for you. We’ll delve into everything you need to know about men’s necklaces – their significance, the different types available, how to choose the right one, and even how to wear them in a way that’s both stylish and true to you.

This handy guide will explain time-tested tips and everything you need to know for wearing men’s necklaces and looking good, regardless of the statement you’re making. If you are also interested in how to wear bracelets, have a look at our guide here  

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How to wear men’s necklaces in 2023

First of all, let me say that necklaces for men are not the same as necklaces for women. For one thing, men will never wear ‘costume jewelry,’ which is the big, chunky stuff with rows of jewels that women wear with evening gowns. That is strictly female fashion. It’s also not appropriate for a man’s jewelry to be the focal point of his outfit.

This means that men’s necklaces are less showy and more rugged around the edges. Good men’s jewelry should appear natural as if you’ve been wearing it for years and it was passed down from your grandfather, who inherited it from his father, and so on.

Things to consider when choosing a men’s necklace to wear

Although it’s all well and good to project an air of casual style that says you look good without even trying, the truth is that fashion requires a great deal of thought and planning.

When it comes to wearing men’s necklaces, there is a lot to think about, including the accompanying outfit, the material of the necklace, and so much more.

What outfit do you want to wear with the necklace?

Do you prefer a V-necked or a round-necked plain T-shirt? Or do you prefer to wear a button-down shirt? Would you rather your necklace merely peek out from under your shirt or do you want it to sit on top?

Just the upper portion of a delicious gold necklace worn across the back of the neck can convey a chic, sophisticated mood that also carries a hint of mystery.

What message do you want to send with the necklace?

Your necklace can help you achieve either an understated elegance or a bold brass notice-me look. The general rule is that the larger the chain, the more daring the look.

You can make a bold statement with a wide gold chain or an understated look with a simple steel chain in medium length (20″) and slim width (5mm).

You have the option of wearing your necklace with or without a pendant. Pendants, on the other hand, look best with slimmer chains.

What men’s necklaces style do you want to wear?

Leather Necklaces

Let’s start the list with leather necklaces as they are more popular in summer, because of their lightness they are a perfect match for outdoor life. Many leather cord necklaces are made to accommodate pendants. Adding a pendant will totally change its style, so you can make it more sophisticated with a polished stainless steel pendant or toning down with a bronze color one.

Whatever you choose, this type of men’s necklace adds a relaxed vibe to your ensemble. Leather necklaces, unlike stainless steel necklaces, should not be worn while showering. When wearing a leather necklace, try to match it with other leathers you own.

Although it is not a hard and fast rule, matching the necklace to the watch strap or leather belt keeps the entire ensemble looking neat.

mosaic of 4 different necklace styles


Dog tag necklaces

The most basic dog tags are two tabs on a ball chain with text on them. Actual military tags typically include the wearer’s name, medical information, rank, and religious preference.

Decorative interpretations of the style frequently replace this text with an image or raised design. The ball chain can also be upgraded to something finer and more flashy.

Understand that different people will have different reactions to this style. Some people appreciate the nod to military fashion. Others believe it is disrespectful to actual servicemen and women because it trivializes a piece of official identification. Unless you have been servicing we would not recommend wearing them.

The Rambo wanna style of this kind of necklace might have on some women the opposite effect, because you are trying in a forced way to look more masculine.

silver dog tag necklace

Chain necklaces

Metal chains with no embellishments are classic pieces of male jewelry. Depending on the metal, chain length, link style, and method of fastening, they can create a variety of looks. The most traditional chain necklace design features relatively flat loops spaced close together.

The chain resembles a solid ribbon of metal and is long enough to fall just below the collarbone. These have been worn by men for over a century and make a statement whether they’re worn to dress up a T-shirt or a suit. The key to successfully pulling off a chain is modesty.

Keep the look understated by wearing the chain beneath your shirt. The small amount that is visible is sufficient to make your point. The metal defines the overall appearance of the chain, so it’s worth spending more to get a higher-quality product here.

Avoid cheap substitutes in favor of solid stainless steel or precious metals such as gold (only if you leave in a safe area) and silver.

And do not forget that you can wear your chain as is or attach a pendant to it. Your pendant selection should be based on what you are drawn to, what complements your style, and what you want it to say about you to others.

silver chain necklace worn by a male

Pendant necklaces

A pendant-style necklace is a very broad term that basically means a single ornament on a medium-long, thin chain or leather cord. These are widespread, popular, and adaptable.

The ornament can range from a shaped jewel to a miniature vial or scroll case. Anything will do as long as it fits comfortably below your neck and against your breastbone.stainless steel anchor pendant

Will you put it on underneath your shirt and suit? Or on top of a tee? This will determine whether the pendant is chunky or slim. Choose it accordingly.

Also, keep in mind that it will almost certainly start a conversation. You can bet I’ll ask what’s up if you walk in with Thor’s hammer on your necklace.

Pendants can be worn outside of casual shirts such as T-shirts, but they are typically tucked underneath any shirt with a turn-down collar.

A deep V-neck may expose enough of your chest to allow a pendant on a short cord to be seen. This style may appeal to you, or it may be a reason why you avoid deep Vs.

Here below are a few different pendant styles with their meaning

  • Angel Wing necklaces Angel wings are associated with love, spirituality, and protection.
  • Anchor necklaces symbolize safety and security, as well as trust and confidence.

bronze anchor pendant on leather slip knot

  • Whale tails necklaces, the whale tail is a symbol of strength and power

WHALE TAIL BRUSHED STAINLESS STEEL NECKLACE on distressed gray leather slip knot

  • Tree of life necklaces the Tree of Life is a mystical symbol that has appeared in many cultures, from the Mayans to the Celts, Buddhism to Nordic mythology. It’s a symbol of personal development, strength, and beauty

bronze tree of life necklace on slip knot leather cord

  • Cross necklaces are thought to shield the wearer from harm, bring calm and peace, and ward off evil spirits

stainless steel cross necklace on leather

  • Coin necklaces Coins have been worn throughout history to bring the wearer luck and good fortune.

chinese coin necklace on leather

  • Claw necklaces Native Americans associate claw necklaces and jewelry with protection and power, while claw necklaces shielded them from arrows and bullets during battle.
  • Viking necklaces Viking jewelry was mostly worn for protection. The most popular one is the Mjolnir necklace


Religious necklaces

Necklaces that denote religious affiliation or are associated with faith are also worthy of inclusion. The majority will be pendants. Christian crosses, Stars of David, and other symbols can all be easily transformed into dangling ornaments.

Pendants with the Evil Eye, Hamsa, or Star of David are worn as necklaces in the Jewish faith. Pendants depicting the Koran and the name of Allah are popular choices among Muslims. Men’s cross necklaces, Saint medals, and rosaries are examples of Christian jewelry.

While rosaries are traditionally used to count prayers, both believers and non-believers wear them as necklaces. These necklaces are typically worn beneath the shirt against the body on a chain long enough to allow the ornament to fall below the neckline.

We have already talked in another article here about Cross Necklaces.

Beaded Necklaces

Although they are not as widely diffused as their bracelet version counterpart, they are making a comeback after they were very popular in the ’80s. While shells were used to make the first beaded jewelry, today’s beads are made of wood, stone, metal, and plastic.

Shell necklaces can still be found at night market stalls around the world. Something about a beaded necklace conjures up images of relaxation, freedom, and outdoor activities.

Perhaps it’s the relaxed, yoga-loving island vibe that a wooden beaded necklace exudes, or maybe it’s because most beaded necklaces are longer than average, lending a bohemian vibe to an outfit.

A beaded necklace will draw attention for whatever reason. So prepare to tell your story.

What material do you want the men’s necklace to be made of?

Unless you’re wearing a deep V-neck, the part of your necklace that people will notice the most is the chain or cord.

Here are some of the most common materials that will influence your outfits:

  • Precious metals are meant to be noticed and seen. Keep them slim, especially if they’re supporting an ornament, and keep in mind that they’ll be the center of attention. The rest of your outfit doesn’t have to be fancy — if you have too many items competing for attention, your outfit will become visually overwhelming. Metal chains are best kept simple.
  • Ball chains are a thin, utilitarian style that is popular for long pendants. They’re simple and won’t detract from the rest of your ensemble. Wear them when you don’t want your necklace to be the focal point (especially if the ornament is hidden under a shirt).
  • Leather cords are less eye-catching than bright metal. They give you a relaxed, natural look that complements both casual and modern clothing. They are, however, less suitable for collared shirts and modern business attire for men, unless you combine them with a stainless steel polished or precious metal charm.
  • Hemp and rope cord are the most commonly used materials in chokers, where they are woven into larger arrangements. These have a casual, outdoorsy appearance that most people associate with hippies, surfers, and outdoorsy men.
  • Ribbons or colored cords made of cloth, such as velvet, are typically used for medals rather than decorative jewelry. Whatever the ornament is, it’s a little too feminine for most men’s fashion.

How do men avoid becoming bored with necklaces? The answer is creativity. Never forget that you can always switch out cords and chains.

When you have three or four pendants and a few extra chains or cords, you’ll have over a dozen different necklace options. Try different combos and see what works best for you.

What size men’s necklace should I get?

The length of your necklace influences your overall appearance, especially when paired with the type of shirt you wear. The majority of necklaces range in length from 18 to 30 inches. Let’s have a look at them.

chart showing different necklace lengths

18-inch length (45.72 cm)

The 18-inch men’s necklace length is usually the shortest available on the market. For men, an 18-inch necklace is frequently deemed too tight, with some even considering it a choker.

The 18-inch men’s necklace length may encircle the wearer’s adam’s apple and make you uncomfortable if you are a big guy. Average size guy should not have any problem even with this length, however, if in doubt we suggest you to measure your neck circumference with a tape before purchasing a necklace of this length.

This kind of length is usually preferred by those men that want make visible their necklace even with regular neck tees.

20-inch length (50.8 cm)

The most common men’s necklace length in EU is 20 inches. The chain is usually attached to your collarbone. People usually wear undershirts, with the chain falling between the first and second buttons of a button-down shirt.

It is also an excellent men’s necklace length for men’s beaded bracelets because it emphasizes the beauty of each gemstone.

For skinny guys however this length can be a bit too long, so always double-check with a tape what length exactly works best for your need

22-inch length (55.88 cm)

The perfect length for men in the US is considered to be 22 inches. The chain can be worn inside or outside of your shirt.

It will sit a few inches below the collarbone and just under the second button of a button-down shirt. It is ideal for both men’s beaded necklaces and pendants.

24-26 inch length (61 cm-66cm)

If you want the necklace’s pendant placed directly in front of your middle sternum, this is the length for you. The necklaces of 24 and 26 inches should be worn over a shirt.

30-inch length (76 cm)

The longest men’s necklace lengths available at the store. People tend to wear 30-inch men’s necklaces outside of their shirts and without any pendants. A 30-inch men’s necklace length is ideal for a simple chain.

If you wanna achieve the typical old-school rapper look seen in the MV, a chain with this length will do the job

Slip knot fully adjustable

If you are not sure what length is best for you a slip knot necklace is the best option because is fully adjustable and this way you can cover almost any length from usually 16 inches all the way up to 30 inches, unfortunately, it comes only in leather or rope.

norse necklace with runes


Example of leather slip knot

How thick do you want the necklace to be?

When choosing a chain necklace, is important to consider the width, which is determined by the statement you want to make. As a general rule, select a chain that fits your size.

Slim chains between 2mm and 4mm will work well for slim guys, while guys on the larger side should consider 5-6+mm chains. A 2 mm necklace is roughly the width of the wire on your earphones, while a 6mm necklace is roughly the width of a pencil.

This rule, however, is not absolute, because a thick chain can add character to a slim neck. What matters most is that your chain conveys your sense of style.If you’re just wearing a chain, a width of 2-6 mm is a good place to start.

When adding a pendant, make sure it fits the chain and doesn’t overpower it, the opposite is also true. Chain width and length go hand in hand, so make sure they’re proportional a short chain should not super thick and vice versa.

To make easier for you we have grouped necklaces thickness in 3 groups

  • 1-4 mm– This ranges from ultra-thin to the standard width of most men’s necklaces. Works well with most pendants. Fits easily under your shirt.
  • 5-9 mm– This necklace width is ideal with large pendants and chains worn outside of a shirt.Big guys should start from this range.
  • 10mm and over wear this thickness only if you want to grab attention, do not forget that if the chain is made with solid links it can be also heavy and uncomfortable after a certain amount of time.

Regarding leather necklaces, we do not recommend anything wider than 6mm even if you are a big guy, or it ‘ll make you look like you have a dog collar around your neck.

How to layer men’s necklaces

After you’ve learned about the benefits and drawbacks of various men’s necklace lengths, it’s time to move on to the next level. Layering your necklace is a form of art make it the right way and it will enhance your style, unfortunately, if done incorrectly can be a disaster.

First of all, you have to consider the visual effect, consistency, and colors of each combination. Wearing multiple necklaces at the same time is difficult, and there are no hard and fast rules. However, there are some standards you can adhere to. If you are also interested in how to stack bracelets, have a look at our guide here

1 Layer necklaces of varying thicknesses and lengths

It is critical to show different “layers” so avoid similar-looking necklaces in order to create the layered effect.

2 Experiment with different colors and materials

Play with different colors and materials. Try to match them with an alike color tone. Because the length and thickness are already different, you can try selecting colors and materials that are similar to create consistency.

The goal is to balance out the messiness of layering; otherwise, the visual effect may appear cluttered. The most basic example is matching gold chains of varying lengths.

3 Combining several pendants

The most interesting, stylish, but also risky layering technique. To combine multiple pendants, consider the style of each pendant. You might think it’s strange to wear a cross pendant with a skull (unless you have some statements to represent.)

We recommend layering small pendants with different necklace lengths because it is both fashionable and safe.


4 Allow yourself some time to experiment with various options

I wish you could just throw on a bunch of necklaces and walk out the door, but layering necklaces don’t work that way. You must experiment with various lengths, pendants, charms, double charms, metals, and other elements.

Once you’ve discovered the necklace layers that work best for you, it’s simple to keep going and experiment with new things.

How to wear men’s necklaces with a suit

Suits are known as the most sophisticated and elegant style of clothing, and with their professional aura and seriousness, wearing men’s necklaces with them is quite a challenge for most guys.

If you focus on the material and men’s necklace lengths, then various necklace chain types will compliment your suit. Just follow these simple rules when wearing a necklace with a suit

1 Keep it simple

The first rule of wearing men’s necklaces with a suit is to leave the tie at home and unbutton the first button of your dress shirt. Too many items around your neck will make your outfit appear sloppy.


2 Keep it subtle

The thickness of your necklace also makes a statement. The larger the chain, the more attention it draws away from your entire outfit. Keep in mind that the key is to keep it simple and subtle. As a result, thinner metal chains are ideal.

They should not, however, be so thin that they blend into the tie and disappear; otherwise, wearing the chain is pointless.

3 Choose the right length

Selecting the appropriate length is very important. The best length for wearing men’s necklaces with a suit is between 20-22 inches and tuck it underneath your dress shirt, according to the men’s necklace lengths guide.

This is because showing your men’s necklaces subtly at work is what makes it significant while remaining low-key. Your shirt collar obscures a portion of the silver chain necklace, lending it a mysterious air.

How to wear men’s necklaces with a casual look

With casual shirts

You should unbutton the first button, this way you will be able to show more of your neck, the trick is to show only a small part of your necklace to make it less flashy.

During summer, you can go a step further and unbutton 2/3 buttons this way a larger part of the neck is visible and so the necklace/s too, we do not recommend doing this if you have a very hairy chest, though.


With t-shirts

If it has a V-neck, choose a necklace that matches the shape and size of the neckline. Round and rigid-shaped necklaces are therefore unsuitable; instead, opt for a soft necklace with a small pendant or charm.

Anything will do if it is small enough to rest comfortably below your neck and against your breastbone. A pendant can be worn outside of casual T-shirts, especially if you are young, but it is typically tucked beneath a shirt with a turn-down collar.

male wearing a pendant over a t-shirt

The Do’s and Don’ts of Men’s Necklaces

As you navigate the world of men’s necklaces, it’s helpful to keep in mind some general etiquette and style rules. Here are the dos and don’ts when it comes to wearing men’s necklaces:


Do Match Your Metals: If you’re wearing other jewelry or accessories with visible metal (like a watch, belt buckle, or rings), try to keep the metals consistent for a cohesive look.

Do Consider Your Outfit: The style and formality of your outfit should dictate the type of necklace you wear. For instance, a sleek chain or elegant pendant necklace may be better suited to a formal occasion, whereas a beaded or surfer necklace might be more appropriate for casual attire.

Do Keep Comfort in Mind: Your necklace should not only look good, but it should also be comfortable to wear. Keep in mind factors like the necklace’s weight, the material it’s made from, and its length, especially if you plan to wear it for extended periods.


Don’t Overaccessorize: When it comes to jewelry, less is often more. If you’re wearing a statement necklace, you may want to forego other neck accessories like scarves or ties, and be mindful of other jewelry. The goal is to create a balanced look, not a cluttered one.

Don’t Ignore Necklace Length: The length of your necklace should correspond with the neckline of your shirt. As a rule of thumb, a necklace should fall above the neckline for a formal shirt and below for a casual one.

Don’t Neglect Care: Jewelry requires proper care to maintain its appearance. Ensure to clean your necklace regularly, store it properly, and handle it with care to keep it looking its best.

Remember, the key to pulling off any accessory, including a necklace, is confidence. These rules are just guidelines – don’t be afraid to break them if it feels right for you. Your personal style is a form of self-expression, so wear your necklace in a way that feels authentic and comfortable to you.


Do necklaces look good on guys?

Even if one’s tastes differ, a well-worn necklace is objectively quite appealing to a man. A necklace can add sophistication, sexiness, and cool to any outfit, whether tucked beneath a shirt, unbuttoned against your chest, or worn over your shirt.

Is it weird for guys to wear necklaces?

Men wear necklaces for a variety of reasons, including expressing themselves through their style, a sense of luxury, and for fun. A necklace is an accessory that can elevate your look, whether you wear it for fashion or to complete your outfit.

Can I swim or shower while wearing a necklace?

Wearing your necklace or jewelry while swimming in the ocean is not a good idea. Not only could you lose your favorite necklace, which could then be eaten by tuna and end up on your plate of sashimi one day, but the saltwater could also cause your jewelry to tarnish.

While most tarnish caused by saltwater is easily removed, the joints, locking mechanism, and other small areas of your necklace should be avoided. The same goes for swimming in the pool; remove your necklace before diving in. A quick dip is one thing, but doing laps while training for the Olympics is quite another.

Chlorine can corrode stainless steel gold o silver over time. Showering with your stainless steel necklace is generally acceptable. However, avoid wearing jewelry while taking a long soak in the tub.

Leather necklaces on the other side should never be worn while showering or swimming as leather can deteriorate pretty fast if gets in contact with salt water or chlorine.

Can you sleep with a necklace on?

The answer to this question, like many others, is that it depends. There are numerous reasons and circumstances under which one should and should not sleep with a necklace.

Sleeping with a necklace can be an uncomfortable experience for some people. If the chain is thin enough, you won’t notice it on your neck while sleeping. For chucker pieces, you’ll most likely feel it while sleeping and may even wake up with markings on your neck.

That’s where you pressed the necklace between your skin and the pillow or mattress. Others, however, remove the necklaces due to their fragility. You don’t want to wake up to find your chain broken or missing a pendant because you slept and tagged on the chain at the same time.

If you have expensive jewelry that is delicate and likely to be damaged when pressure is applied, it is best to remove it. It is not worth the risk of waking up with a broken necklace. Sleeping with a necklace is not recommended if you have sensitive skin.

Some people can wear a necklace for a long time without getting a reaction. However, as the day progresses and the metal becomes exposed to sweat, oils, and other environmental factors, it becomes itchy on the skin.

Overall, you can sleep with your necklace if you are confident in its durability. If you believe it will not withstand daily wear, consider taking it off before going to bed.

How to clean your men’s necklace

If you get too much dirt and dust on your necklace chain, it will break and lose its shine. Pendants also look better without months of accumulated fingerprints, sweat, and oil. Take note of the material and follow the general cleaning guidelines below.

Stainless steel necklaces

  • In a bowl of warm water, add a few drops of mild dishwashing soap.
  • Wipe the necklace (pendant removed) with a soft, lint-free cloth until clean.
  • Remove any soap residue from your necklace.
  • Allow to air dry after drying with a clean towel.
  • To add shine, use a polishing cloth.
  • The above steps can also be applied to steel rings, bracelets, and pendants.

Leather necklaces

With a damp cloth, wipe down the leather. Avoid wiping the leather with a wet cloth or immersing it in water. Apply a small dab of mild, moisturizing hand soap or leather cleaner to both sides of the cloth.

Wipe the leather clean and dry after rinsing and dampening the cloth. Use regularly a leather conditioner too keep it soft and last longer.

Beaded necklaces

Apply mild soap and water, or a jewelry-specific cleaning agent, with a soft-bristled toothbrush. Finally, the most effective method for cleaning your beaded jewelry will be the most tedious.

The method that does not rely on tricks or the use of unusual pantry items. Instead, be patient and clean your jewelry with very mild soap and water mixture to remove any gunk and tarnishing.

For applying this mixture and getting into angles and divots, use a soft-bristled toothbrush. As a final wipe down, use a soft cloth rag.

Where to find the ideal men’s necklace

Finding the ideal men’s necklace can be challenging, especially if you lack inspiration or don’t know where to look.

Surflegacy has you covered. We have a wide range of men’s necklaces in various styles, shapes, colors, and materials, to accentuate your fashion look.

Our pieces are crafted in Italy with care and style in mind, reasonably priced, so you won’t have to break the bank to get one. Visit our store and let us assist you on your fashion journey.

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