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Bracelets. Loving them and getting them on my man-sized hands…


Good morning you orangutans with your freakishly giant hands. I have them too. They aren’t big enough to palm a basketball or anything, but they’re too big to fit into a lot of the bracelets available at my favorite retail establishments. Let’s investigate that a bit more today, shall we?

OK. First off, my love of bracelets is informed by a few different things… spending a good part of my developmental years in the 80’s, a magpie-like desire to gather as many treasures as possible, a pair of sparklies from Mr. Bug for my earlobes the precludes the wearing of costume-jewelry treasures on my noggin, a high tolerance for annoying things that make it hard to use a computer….

The bulk of my bracelet collection is made up of cheap stuff from chain stores. My hands and wrists are on the big side, so I get my favorite type of bracelet – the simple round bangle – from Avenue and Lane Bryant. For anyone who’s unfamiliar, these are two chain stores that cater to ‘plus sizes’ (have I mentioned that I HATE the phrase plus size??) and so their jewelry is usually scaled up a bit as well – bracelets AND necklaces. Usually it’s no problem to get these suckers over my hand and they’re nice and loose on my wrist (um, except the ones I rammed halfway up to my elbow in the photo above!!) It’s not enough for these kinds of bracelets to just fit ON me, they also have to slide around a bit… if they’re snug at all I don’t like how it feels OR looks. Plus, when they’re bigger they make my wrist ‘appear’ a bit smaller. Exactly how they made Gandalf look so big and Frodo look so small in the movie!

Bangles: the more the better

Bangles often come in nice, mismatched sets with multiples. I try to buy two at a time because I’m a BIG fan of matching bracelets on both arms!

Another type of bracelet that I like is a cuff. Some of mine are the scaled up a bit, but since these don’t wrap all the way around my wrist a lot of the ones at non-plus size chain stores will fit just fine. I like to wear the low profile ones (like the cheetah one below) as a sort of peek-a-boo bracelet with a bunch of bangles, but the more chunky ones like the coral fake-stones are confident enough to be worn all by themselves.

Cuffs: a little hug for your arm

These can be a little tricky when it comes to placement! I like to wear them just above my wrist bone – you know the one on the outside of your wrist? By your pinky? If I let them slide too far towards my hand I can get a sort of bunched effect (thing too-high turtleneck + a double chin.) Conversely, if I push them too much towards my elbow, they will create a not-too-nice looking indentation. I don’t mind a bit of that, but I’m not sure emphasizing my roly poly fore arms is always the best look for me. Particularly since my forearms don’t usually come across as that roly poly…

Another good option that I’ve had luck with is the bracelet-on-elastic. Just like the candy necklaces when you were a kid, but not as delicious. These are roomy enough for me, even if I don’t get the special plus-sized ones! And a lot of them are surprisingly substantial seeming! Here’s two of my favorites…

Warning: This is not delicious candy

Due to the potential of unflattering bracelet-indentations, I prefer the super-chunky elastic bracelets like the fake-shells on the right, although I have pretty flowers in silver AND gold that I couldn’t resist.

The final bracelet type I tend to go for is a catch all of make-it-yourself. I’m a fan of a sort of strappy look, so I have some bracelets I made from strips of leather and snaps. I slid a belt buckle on as well. I like how it looks.

I’ve considered also just wrapping ribbon around my writsts for the strappy look, but I’ve never actually worn that look out, just considered it. Another good idea if you’re into charm-type bracelets is to use a thin ribbon to add an extra inch or two onto the bracelet to make it fit. I do that with necklaces all the time, but I don’t have any charm-type bracelets in my collection (probably because none fit me!!) And if you’ve never visited a bead shop, you should check it out if you get frustrated trying to find bracelets that fit. Making jewelry isn’t hard and you really only need a pair of needle nose plies and possibly a smaller pair of super pointy pliers (I’ve always seen them as ‘rosary pliers’) to make most styles of jewelry. The makings are SUPER reasonable, price-wise, as long as you’re not going to start making multiples of everything!

Oh! I almost forgot one other category of favorite bracelets – and a great way to bring in vintage – necklaces! Longer necklaces looped a few times make cut little bangles all on their own! This isn’t a great photo, but this is my FAVORITE necklace AND bracelet. It’s a vintage enamel-type string of stars and beads. Looped twice, it’s a cute bracelet and worn with a bit of an extender, I love it as a necklace!

I grabbed some pictures from daily outfit posts to show some of my favorite bracelets. Here’s the fake-shells on elastic that I showed above. I LOVE how giant this bracelet is!

Another look that I like – a smaller, preferably stretchy bracelet paired with something that moves around a lot. The turquoise bracelet is strung on elastic cord and the silver bangle is actually too big for me. It falls off. I like the pairing, though. The elastic holds the turquoise in place, giving the bracelets a bit of structure, while the silver bangle is of a large enough scale that it dwarfs my wrist. A bit.

Here’s a similar effect. I do like to pile things on. This is my leather strap looped around a few times and snapped. The two other bangles are big and free-moving. I really like ‘hiding’ one bracelet under another – I must have shoved the big white bracelet up my arm for the photo, but in actuality, the white bracelet mostly covered up the leather bracelet!

Here’s another necklace-as-bracelet! I have a thing for pearls and if there’s a string of interesting costume pearls in the costume jewelry cabinet at my favorite antique shop, I’ll usually buy it if it’s $20 or less. This string is super fun because the pearls are all different sizes and, you know. Not round.

And here’s yet ANOTHER necklace as bracelet! I got this string of stones at the Mighty Swell pop up sale a month or two ago and I LOVE it! I’ve been on a black jewelry kick and made a funky string of giant, glass, art deco beads into a chocker-like necklace to match.

What about all you crazy monkeys? Do you dig bracelets, or does their keyboard-hampering quality drive you to distraction? If you DO wear bracelets, where do you get ‘em? And the bonus question – if you DO wear bracelets and have trouble getting them on and off, have you ever tried that plastic bag trick? Is it helpful??



  1. Merle says:

    Don’t know what your population demographics are where you live, but here in Hillsboro, OR, we have a large population of fine folks from India. Indian women wear bangles a lot and since women come in all sizes, the bangles are SIZED. I wear a 7, my daughter likes a closer fitting 6, my friend of the large hands wears a 10 – you get my drift. They come in sets and single and so affordable. See if you can find a store in your area; if not, check out the possibilities online.

  2. laura says:

    I love this post! I love your layering. i have just received a box of my great grandmother’s costume jewelery and some of it will mix well based on your suggestions. Thanks for the inspiration. Laura.
    P.S. I wish i lived closer so i could take a class in Sept – looks fun!

  3. Angela Wilson says:

    I have been doing the necklace-as-bracelet thing for years too! I don’t think of myself as having huge hands, but most of the bangle bracelets will not go over them. I’ll have to look at some of your sources. I love all jewelry, but bracelets and earrings are my favorites and I don’t like to go out without them:)

  4. Shams says:

    This is one of my favorite posts that you’ve done. Lots of great ideas. :)

  5. Karaboo says:

    I haven’t been wearing many bracelets lately, but when I do, I also prefer the layered look. I’m feeling inspired to give them another try thanks to your blog post.

  6. Clio says:

    Oh, I’m a bracelet magpie too. Today I’m wearing a big chunky plastic faceted bangle that is multiple shades – it reminds me of rainbow flavored italian ices from my childhood. My favorite cuff is from an Etsy seller called Unearthed. They are generously sized.
    Clio recently posted..The Project: Muslin 2.0 and a GiveawayMy Profile

  7. VictoriaR says:

    I love your braclets, but, alas I am of the terribly bothered by them when typing or other things. I have naked wrists most of the time. Also, I’m on the other end of the wrist scale. Alot of braclets are too big and fall off easily which adds to the discomfort.

  8. Ah, I love bangles (not so much beaded/chain bracelets) – possibly I love them mmore ‘cos they’re harder for me to find, being a bigger wristed girl too *sighs*?
    Claire (aka Seemane) recently posted..Part 1: Maybe It’s Genetic?My Profile

  9. Nan in MN says:

    I firmly believe that a watch should always be accompanied by at least three bracelets and that philosophy has resulted in a HUGE collection of bracelets. Most are bead store and garage sale findings strung by me on memory wire. Try it – it’s quite meditative! When my collection needs weeding out, I often have a bowl of bracelets at the door waiting as “party favors” for my visitors. I am surprised how many comments I receive on those years later when somebody happens to be wearing one when we see each other.

    HINT: If you like to wear smaller bangles than slip over your hand easily, put a thin plastic (i.e. grocer) bag over your hand and slip the bracelet on and off over the bag – a trick I picked up in Chinatown from a jade store owner. Sweet.

  10. sarajane says:

    I am a fellow, large-wristed bracelet junkie. I buy pretties when I see them at the aforementioned (I also hate that descriptor!)stores. Over the last few years, I’ve been stringing my own beads on clear elastic cord – sized to my particular wrist. I’ll string beads from a craft store, vintage necklaces, cheap bead necklaces from a big box store that I’ve dis-assembled. Since I now have amassed quite a large collection, I just pile them on with reckless abandon.

  11. Ruby says:

    Hmmm…”one bangle to rule them all”…Middle Earth would have been so much more glam!
    Thank you for giving wrist bling some much deserved attention. As a fellow “man hander”, I’ve long shied away from bracelets. But the wrapped necklace idea sounds fabulous—must try this! Love the pearls, love the coral beads…heck, you make them all look pretty darned good!

  12. Shelly says:

    Like you I love bracelets. Most of mine are from cheap chain stores. I’ve never really found any thing vintage at a price I’m willing to pay. And yes, I stack them as well. I’ve never worn a necklace as a bracelet but have considered the idea. Think I’ll give it a try.
    Shelly recently posted..Help! My first muslin!My Profile

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