When a daredevil spirit collides with the exhilarating ‘90s, expect something high and mighty. Oh boy, chill out, no choker game happening this time around! There is a new jewelry obsession among fashion-forward characters – anklets or ankle bracelets, a.k.a. a clarion call to risk your neck and put your best foot forward.
In this article, we go deeper into the ankle bracelet meanings, their origins, and explain how to wear anklets right, as well as give you a great list of the best anklets to get right now!
How to Wear Anklets/ Ankle Bracelets: Contents
• What Are Anklets?
• The Rise of the Anklet Trend
• A Retrospective Look at Anklets: Meanings of Ankle Bracelets in Different Cultures
• Ankle Bracelet Wearing Etiquette: How to Wear Anklets Right
• 7 Ways To Wear Ankle Bracelets
Also known as ankle bracelets or ankle chains, anklets are jewelry pieces worn around the ankle that are made of precious metals, like gold or silver, or of fun beads and charms. Utterly provocative and seductive, anklets or ankle bracelets are making a huge comeback at the moment.
Nostalgic feelings of the late ‘90s and early 2000s are all upon us. Remember those plastic second-skin anklets in poppy colors or the tinkling ankle charms hitting the streets once summer came around to beg for barefoot and crazy? I am pretty sure your millennial heart sinks the way mine does now.
Yes, we are done and dusted with rebellious chokers, got enough kick out of outlandish hoop earrings, and even rocked Prada-approved puka shell necklaces like shelling peas. No idea what other fragments would slip in from the good old ‘90s (let’s keep our fingers crossed that those kid stuff stick-on earrings or butterfly clips wouldn’t reappear any time in the future), but one thing is certain: your feet need to undergo some radical shakeup and there is no better way to achieve it than with back-in-style anklets.
To set the record straight, the shimmer glimmer ankle bracelets started to sneak to us some time around 2011, when the Row designer Ashley Olsen had a sudden crush on this foot candy and thereafter led the way as the anklet queen. Her dainty choices have never failed to work like a charm whether worn with heels, flats or comfy sneakers.
The obsession reached its apogee when the Row’s collaboration with the jewelry designer Ileana Makri gave birth to covetable ankle chains retailing at $4000 at Net-a-Porter.
Over the time other high-profile characters confessed their love for anklets, among them being French photographer and fashion blogger Garance Doré. She wrote on her blog: “So there you go. I confess. I. love. anklets. Well, I know what you’re about to say: I suppose with a pair of shiny red stilettos, it could send the wrong message. BUT I think that with summer here, with some flats, it’s sensual and incredibly beautiful”.
Sensual and incredibly beautiful with some flats? The archived photo of brown flat sandals with a golden dainty chain on her blog is nothing but an eloquent proof that sparkling tootsies can be a challenge, and a good one.
If taken conventionally, anklets look better in summer when worn with sandals, given the bohemian and free-spirited zeitgeist to them. Let’s take the annual Coachella festival that would not feel that much bohemian sans flirty anklets flaunted by celebrities.
BUT would anklets ever return without foundational changes to them? The anklet trend of the 21st century is no more summer-committed. The contemporary ankle chains have pushed their boundaries beyond season and style. Summer is over, but fret not! The solution is all around.
Jewelry designer Jennifer Fisher dreamt up a brilliant anklet idea in her spring/ summer 2015 design lineup, a seriously modern interpretation of this outdated jewelry, which she unexpectedly called “chocklet” as a celebration of the choker-anklet hybrid. The design is nothing but an obvious encouragement to rock Fisher’s signature brass anklets in cold seasons as well, with a pair of comfy sneakers maybe.
But the credit for the cheeky anklet-sneakers combination fairly goes to the famous trendsetter Hailey Baldwin, who recently arrived at a business meeting in New York City wearing an oversized “P” tee with sneakers and an ankle bracelet. She then officially announced ‘bringin anklets back!!’ on Twitter, thereby taking the anklet game to a completely new level.
Are you still skeptic about the official comeback of anklets? Let there be no doubt! This foot jewelry was bursting at the seams at Christian Dior’s SS 2016 haute couture runway styled with black mules. Who could imagine multilayered golden ankle bracelets to ever appear on any haute couture show? Yup, the fashion is unpredictable at times!
When it comes to jewelry, nothing works so well as to give off kinda dress-up impact. That’s because whether it is a bauble bracelet, a much-buzzed-about choker or a hoop earring, it can’t ever be overlooked by anyone out there.
Amid these prominent jewelry pieces, ankle bracelets may at times feel a fish out of water, a jewelry piece that only the most watchful ones could catch sight of (unless your choice is something flashy and powerful). An anklet is wrapped around the ankle, sometimes so dainty and delicate that only the wearer could feel its touch. Heck, isn’t it a good explanation of MYSTERY?
I could not but recall a distinctive episode of the 1944 film noir Double Indemnity. La femme fatale Phyllis Dietrichson stands at the top of a spiral staircase wearing nothing but a towel, looking down at bedazzled Walter Neff. And guess what adorns her left ankle? A shiny anklet perfectly fitted with all that noir atmosphere.
That whole enigma around anklets makes us trace the history back just to unearth quite interesting historical facts, cultural associations and some shocking symbolism about them. Let’s observe what’s behind your favorite anklets apart from their being an adornment of beauty.
The First Samples of Anklets
The excavation of Sumerian tombs brought to light the traces of wearing ankle bracelets even 4500 years ago in Mesopotamia, the first civilization in the world.
Let’s just make a beeline for the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, and observe the Female Attendant sculpture that dates back to the 4th-5th century BC. We see the sculpture wearing “diaphanous robes” with both ankles adorned with band anklets, just another proof of their archaic course.
Anklets in Predynastic Egypt: The Symbol of Social Status
In old times, ankle bracelets in Egypt were worn by women from all walks of life. If it was a golden one, that was an indication of a higher social class, while cheaper metals like silver or iron pointed out that the woman belonged to a lower class.
Egyptians used the same term menefret both for bracelets and anklets, adding just the phrase “for arms” or “for feet” to tell them apart. Menefrets were massive, all-powerful with many baubles hanging down.
Then came kholkhal, rigid cuff anklets usually in bright gold that were sported by the women of Alexandria in the early 20th century.
In this day and age, many Egyptian women steer clear of wearing anklets in public places due to the Islamic conservatism. However, the dancing tradition with jangling anklets sticks around to date.
Meanings of Anklets in Indian Culture
Indian culture has definitely had its fair share in the symbolism to the anklets. The ankle bracelets or payals in India are closely associated with traditional weddings. Whether they are magic barefoot anklets with toe rings or intricate charm chains, anklets now make a compulsory attribute of any bridal costume in India along with sarees. Beyond that, ankle strings may also indicate the marital status of the woman.
There is still another symbolism of this foot candy in India. Married women wore jingling anklets so as to make a sound while entering the room and to prevent men from indecent talks.
Rigid heavy anklets are now worn by women in rural regions of India as a sign of endurance and fortitude.
Every year in March in Jaipur, the Indian people hold Elephant Festival, embellishing their elephants with colors and jewelry pieces, and you can even see female elephants wearing anklets with many charms, bells and trinkets.
Meanings of Anklets in South East Asia
There was a practice in South East Asia to wear anklets on both ankles united with a chain to achieve that ‘feminine’ short tripping step.
Anklets Set Foot in America
The first time anklets showed up in America was in the 1940s, when fans of traditional pop music, the fervent devotees of Frank Sinatra formed a sociological group known as bobby soxers in the history. The teenage and young adult women who were swooning over Sinatra, established their signature fashion costume that consisted of poodle skirts, sandals, short white socks, and anklets to highlight the socks.
But the anklet mania in the United States reached its high point only during the mid-1960s, when the hippie movement broke out. The bohemian spirit spread out over the globe: the youth was ardent to embrace the altered states of consciousness, and many in the West acquired a taste for the Eastern culture. Hence, the Eastern-inspired anklets became just another integral part of the hippie fashion.
Later on, some conservatives ascribed negative connotations to ankle bracelets claiming that it’s a call-girl thing to wear anklets.
Today, anklets are rocked in the United States without any stereotypes or clichés to them, just for fashion and beauty unless you yourself put some individual meaning into your anklet.
It’s not about common jewelry pieces like earrings or necklaces, which require not much thinking and can be easily mixed and matched on any occasion and in any season; ankle bracelet is just another tune. If worn the wrong way, odds are you are going to look tacky and dowdy. So if you are raring to ace it with ankle bracelets, follow some etiquette rules of wearing this foot bling.
Ask Yourself, “Do Anklets Belong to My Personal Style?”
Before going hell for leather to acquire trendy anklets, consider if your wardrobe is on the same wavelength. Anklets are rather bohemian, free-spirited accents to add to your outfit, so if you mostly stick to the black-tie scheme, your anklet game may seem a little bit incompatible unless you opt for a killer dainty diamond-laden ankle bracelet.
Where Should You Wear Ankle Bracelets?
When adopting the anklet bracelet trend, it’s significant to take into account where you are heading to. It will be out-and-out inappropriate to wear ankle bracelets to the workplace with all that jingle-jangle of charms unless you work in the fashion industry. Here are the best places to flaunt your ankle chains:
• At the beach (the barefoot anklet will be the best fit)
• At the poolside (a case in point – Coachella pool parties)
• At a summer cocktail party (your flirty cute dress calls for a matching bohemian anklet)
• While running everyday errands (the anklet + sneakers combination has recently become a thing and is worth your try)
Anklet on the Right or Left Leg? The Million-Dollar Question
There seems to be much debate around this question – whether to wear your anklet on the right or left ankle. While most people don’t bother about the right or left thing associated with ankle bracelets, others attach much importance to that issue.
Some claim that wearing the ankle bracelet on the left ankle speaks about the woman’s marital status, much as it is with the wedding ring, but this perception is rather inherent to Eastern cultures.
There is an alternate assumption that the left anklet is a sign the woman is married but in an open relationship, while the right anklet speaks of its wearer’s homosexuality.
There is also another reference to ankle bracelets: the left side is connected with evil forces in general, and by wearing the anklet on the left side you just protect yourself from Devil.
Whether all these are old wives’ tales or the absolute truth for some groups of people, at the end of the day you are the one who is responsible for the meaning of your own anklet. A tip to confuse the masses – wear anklets on both ankles!
Styling Is Everything
Though the modern anklet designs are above and beyond hot seasons, they shine their best when skirts are shorter, and open-toed shoes are all around. Wear your ankle bracelets with some flirty dresses and skirts, denim shorts, capris, cropped pants and jeans, or flaring culottes or go the extra mile and try them with a pair of raw-hem high-rise vintage jeans.
The most important thing to consider when wearing anklets is what shoe style you are matching them with. Ankle-strap shoes are definitely not the best choice given that the ankle bracelet will clash with the strap and get lost.
Summer shoes like backless loafers, flip-flops, festive sandals or statement slides will best go with anklets. Sneakers are yet another obsession among anklet buffers. Match them with a chunky chain anklet and go all-around cool.
Want to take your anklet game to a much chicer level? A pair of classic pumps with a diamond or white sapphire anklet is some pumpkins!
Whatever you decide to wear your anklets with, make sure to always wear them on your bare legs, as anklets over or under tights not only look horrible, but also tend to spoil your tights!
Measure Your Ankle for The Perfect Fitting Anklet
After you have selected the anklet design for your personal style, it’s high time to acquire it. But before that, make sure you know your ankle size so as to pick up the perfect fitting ankle bracelet.
While attending your favorite jewelry boutique, things are much easier – you can try as many anklets as possible to find the perfect one. But online shopping is no picnic when it comes to choosing anklets, much as it is with any kind of footwear.
Here are some anklet sizing tips to come in handy when you are going to shop for an anklet chain online:
• First, decide for yourself whether you want to rock the anklet loosely and snugly below the ankle or tightly above the ankle. A quick tip: go below the ankle when wearing sandals, loafers or flip-flops, while above-the-ankle anklets will look better with ankle-strap footwear.
• In case you prefer the ankle bracelet falling below the ankle, wrap a measuring tape around your ankle, record your ankle sizing and add ½ – ¼ to it depending on how loose you are going to wear it. For example, if your ankle measures 10 inches, the ankle size should be 10.5 – 12.5.
• In case of below-the-ankle samples, measure above your ankle, and add ¼ – ¾ inches just to leave room for some adjustments.
• Women’s standard anklet sizes are: 21.5cm / 8.5 inches (petite); 23cm / 9 inches / (small), which is the most popular; 24.15cm / 9.5 inches / (medium), which is again one of the most popular; 25.5cm / 10 inches/ (large).
• Just in case you have gone wrong with the size, there is always a chance to make amends with necklace extenders.
Don’t Forget About Your Legs and Nails
With a bracelet on your ankle you are likely to draw attention to your legs especially as the anklet is eye-catching and showy. So make sure your leg skin is free of any scratches and blemishes. Moisturize your legs with body cream or lotion before wearing the anklet for a smooth and shiny look: the effect is doubled up with tanned skin.
Don’t forget about toenails as well. They should be in a spick-and-span state, clean and neat with perfectly done pedicure.
Consider Your Age
While teenagers or 20 somethings are free to rock any bohemian anklets with colorful beads, tassels or itty-bitty charms, mature women should raise the bar in the anklet zone giving their preference to silver, golden, or pearly anklets.
Have you already jumped on the bandwagon? Ardent to snap up more anklets of offbeat designs? There is no shortage of anklet ideas at the moment. Whether you are in quest of dainty ankle chains or barefoot beach-ready anklets or maybe massive luxury samples, your ankles are definitely on the winning side.
Browse through our list, and steal some ideas on how on earth should you rock anklets like a fashionista.
1. Keep It Dainty and Elegant
When your choice is a barely there dainty anklet, a pair of elegant high heels comes to light. Set out to a cocktail party with your foot feeling that soft caress, and keep it up through the night. A charm anklet also looks the part with classic pumps. Pick this sweet nothing designed out of the most gossamer and glimmering gold at Shopbop.
2. Chain Anklet with Sneakers
Why not set foot in the anklet zone in a sport chic manner. The anklet fashion has gone the extra mile offering an offbeat sneaker-anklet combo. Today’s It-girls are all in it rocking their sneakers with rigid chain anklets, either tightly wrapped above the ankle or nonchalantly handing down.
The bestselling chain gold-plated sample from Jennifer Fisher is just another sneaker-worthy anklet thing worth to make your gloomy autumn days a bit more cheerful. Buy it now at Net-a-Porter.
3. Double It Up for a Major Effect
When it comes to doubling up, there is a big room for mixing and matching. If you are really willing to buckle down to get both of your legs in the limelight, why not give a try to the gold and silver anklets by Kenneth Jay Lane that will look extremely seductive with mules?
Don’t want to go identical? Bring together anklets of different styles and sizes to go out of the box. Buy these silver and gold anklets at Net-a-Porter!
4. Go Barefoot
Barefoot anklets with toe-ring attachments have their roots in the Indian culture. They make an integral part of any Indian bride’s attire up to date, giving off some charming vibes. Planning to walk down the aisle on the beach? No two ways here to bejewel your feet with luxury western-style barefoot anklets or go more bohemian, and opt for some lacy barefoot samples.
This delicate anklet style looks equal part charming when on your beach vacations walking barefoot on sand. Explore Shopbop for the best-ever barefoot anklet ideas.
5. Anklets Over the Boots
The cold season is upon us, the heeled sandals and ethereal dresses are tucked away, but your heart sinks over those anklets. Don’t fret! There is a solution to wear anklets over the boots. Only make sure your anklet is eye-catching enough to match with your boots.
6. Colorful and Flirty Ankle Bracelets with Flip-Flops
This festival-worthy combination is fun, colorful and flirty. Rock your anklets proudly when the hot season is at its peak or when you have happened to get a ticket to Coachella. Find a pom-pom anklet style by Rebecca Minkoff available at Selfridges.
7. Jump on Layering Your Anklets
The modern layering is all about art and aesthetics starting from necklaces to anklets to even fragrances. Whether you want to wear layered anklets with high heels or summer sandals or even flip-flops, the effect will be equally impressive.
Choose a tiered option or stack together a couple of anklets from your collection to show off your creativity. Get this Arme De L’Amour two-tier golden brass anklet with cutout square charms from Net-a-Porter.
Photos via @black_palms, @sincerelyjules, @vivaluxuryblog, @negin_mirsalehi