Have you heard of this “arm party” thing? Coined by Leandra Miller of Man Repeller, this super-fun term for a ton of bracelets is all over twitter and Instagram. Probably everyone heard of it before me. I came late to the “arm party” myself, largely because my career required A LOT of hand washing. I don’t even wear a watch, because I hate the feeling of the water trapped under it every time I wash my hands. Plus, it makes me itch. But now that I’m not working, I can wear all the bracelets I want! Yay!
Even though I can wear bracelets, it’s not always easy trying to find that perfect balance between matchy-matchy and overtly clashing, between too much and not enough! Most of my bracelet stacks are beaded, since I have a pretty big bead stash, plus they are easy and fun to make. So here are some tips to help you make your own perfect bracelet stack.
1. Pick a color theme
I usually use a color theme of two colors. How to pick the color combo? Match a favorite outfit, or use your favorite colors. If you’re not sure, you can use a color wheel to help you decide, using complementary colors for a major pop, or analogous colors for a more subtle effect. Sometimes your color theme may be dictated by your beads: for example, if you decide to use pearls, that would count as one of your two colors. Once you have a color theme, you can pick out beads in those two colors. They don’t have match exactly, they could be various shades of the same hue.
2. Choose beads of different sizes or shapes
Having some contrast in the shapes/sizes of the beads adds visual interest. Having all small, round beads can be very monotonous, so add in a larger round bead or a nugget or a faceted shape. The caveat here is not to have too huge of a variation in size; you don’t want seed beads and huge chunky nuggets because the smaller beads will get lost.
3. Use findings in one metal
This will create some uniformity between the multiple colors and sizes of beads, making them look more like they belong together. Use various types of metal findings – clasps, charms, metal beads. These don’t all have to match, but sometimes I find it fun to use coordinating themes like “forest” or “ocean”. It also isn’t necessary for each bracelet to have a finding, but I do recommend at least one from each color group.
4. Choose one accent bead/color (optional)
Now that you have a stack of 3-5 bracelets, you can add one contrasting accent bracelet. If you have a pretty basic color combination, try a bright, unexpected color. If you have a crystal-heavy stack, try something earthy like a polished stone or some wooden beads; conversely if you have an earthy stack, add a pearl or bit of sparkle. You don’t have to do this, but I like the bit of extra funkiness it adds.
Once you have your stack made, make a few more. Mix and match. Add some bangles, or a watch, or some woven cord bracelets.
Obviously these rules are made to be broken. Use various sizes of the same multi-colored stone or rainbow crystal; mix metals using a single bead color; even make rainbow strands by using multiple colors of the same shape on each strand. The guidelines are helpful to get you started, but ultimately you’ve gotta make it your own.
Then, make some earrings to match!