Ankle bracelets (or anklets) are a fun and unique way to add a little sparkle to your step. But is there a deeper meaning, and if so, what do ankle bracelets mean?
You might be surprised to learn that anklets aren’t just a cute, unexpected way to jazz up your style. They also have ancient roots and special meanings spanning many cultures across the globe.
In this guide, we’re breaking down the benefits of wearing anklets, some of their vibrant history, and why it might be the perfect time to add a bit of sparkle to your strut!
Ankle bracelets are believed to have been around for more than 8,000 years. And if you think they were merely fashion accessories, think again.
For centuries, anklets have bedazzled the feet of men and women alike. From silver to gold, dainty to chunky, and everything in between — cultures and civilizations worldwide have rocked a little ankle bling throughout history, each with its own special significance.
Pictured above: Claw Anklet of Sithathoryunet, ancient Egyptian king's daughter circa 1887–1878 B.C. | Image credit: Metropolitan Museum of Art, Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal Public Domain Dedication
When we think of ancient Egypt, we often think of opulence, power, and mystique. However, it wasn’t just the rich that sported a little ankle jewelry.
The women of lower social classes wore simple anklets fashioned out of leather, string, and even wood carvings. These anklets were thought to bring them good luck and fortune.
Egyptian ladies of higher ranks wore anklets made of precious metals and gems, signaling their affluent status: the richer the husband, the more luxurious the anklet.
Moving on, what do ankle bracelets mean in ancient India?
Image credit: Aadilashahid94 | Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license
Traditionally, Indian women wear anklets as a way to display their marital status.
Married women wear anklets adorned with many charms signaling to society that they’re “spoken for.” To this day, they remain one of the most popular gifts for new brides.
Can unmarried girls wear anklets, too? Young, unmarried Indian women also wear anklets to symbolize bravery and pride. However, these are usually unadorned, hinting at their unmarried status.
As for the United States, what do ankle bracelets mean?
Pictured above: 1953 photo of five teenage girls wearing dog collar anklets on their socks / World-Telegram photo by Roger Higgins | Library of Congress
Ankle bracelets didn’t make their way overseas into Western culture until the mid-1900s.
It all started in the 50s and 60s amidst jazz singer Frank Sinatra’s peak popularity. Some fans, dubbed “Bobby Soxers,” were known for wearing anklets over white bobby socks. (If you don’t know, bobby socks are white, ankle-length, women’s socks, sometimes with a ring of lace at the cuff).
Following the Sinatra craze, anklet bracelets rolled into the 70s as the bohemian, flower-power style captured American culture.
The popularity of anklets has continued to grow ever since!
But what about today? Are anklets in style in 2022?
While anklets still hold strong and traditional meanings in certain cultures (like India), their rigid symbolism is not so much the case in the broader scheme nowadays. Nonetheless, many believe that some of the meanings behind ankle bracelets still hold true today.
Let’s address some ideas about anklets that are still floating around.
As we discussed earlier, some cultures believed that ankle bracelets reflected marital status. The tradition has carried over by becoming a popular gift from groom to bride as a way to reflect their marriage status to the world.
Just as spouses wear wedding bands and engagement rings on a particular ring finger, some brides wear their anklets on the corresponding ankle (usually the right).
In contrast to the marital meaning of a right-ankle anklet, some believe wearing one on the left ankle means you’re single and ready to mingle.
However, this theory doesn’t seem to hold much weight anymore; millions of people wear ankle bracelets on both the left and right, bearing no special meaning at all.
Men in some cultures (like Africa and the Middle East) have been wearing anklets for as long as women have. They do so as a way to exhibit their social status. For instance, royal members of the Kshatriya in India mainly wore anklets of gold and other precious metals as a symbol of their wealth. The cheaper the material, the lower the social rank.
So are there different kinds of ankle bracelets? You bet!
There are a large variety of ankle bracelet styles. Here’s a breakdown of some of the most popular anklet styles:
Gold ankle bracelets are often adorned with gemstones pairing beautifully with elegant heels, trendy sandals, or matching gold accessories. They can be as dainty as a thin gold chain or feature more intricate designs.
What does a silver anklet mean? They’re usually considered more casual but can add an understated elegance to your outfit, depending on how you style them. Like gold anklets, they range from simple to more ornate.
Ankle bracelets fashioned with other metals such as brass, nickel, copper, tungsten, and other alloys are also common. Like gold and silver, they’re also available in an array of styles and potential add-ons like charms or gems.
Leather ankle bracelets add a touch of masculinity to a commonly associated feminine piece of jewelry. However, they’re perfect for men and women alike, especially anyone with an earthy, Bohemian, or Americana style.
Beaded ankle bracelets look beautiful on their own or stacked with other kinds of anklets for a more boho-chic aesthetic. They’re colorful, unique, and even more fun to DIY with some added personalization. Speaking of personalization…
What do charm ankle bracelets mean? Charm anklets are a fantastic way to showcase your personality. They add a touch of whimsy and sentiment, making them lovely, conversation-starting pieces.
Ankle bracelets fashioned with seashells are perfect for those with a love for the ocean (a thalassophile, in fun official terms). From dangling shells to smaller shells that resemble beads like the wampum used by Native Americans, shell anklets are ideal for boaters, beach lovers, and anyone who dreams of being a mermaid.
Image credit: Alena Darmel
These popular ankle bracelets are perfect for creating the quintessential bohemian look. Wrap anklets are adjustable and often made of a combination of materials such as beads, leather, or hemp.
Image credit: Victoria Akvarel
Barefoot ankle bracelets, or barefoot sandals, are meant to adorn bare feet. They string together the toe and ankle with cascading chains that flow across the top of the foot. These are perfect to wear to festivals, beach parties, or tropical weddings.
Image credit: Ivorrusev | Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license
Coin jewelry is always fun, but coin ankle bracelets are truly something special. Make your wandering-free-spirit dreams come true and jingle everywhere you go with these ankle bracelets fashioned with several coins.
Image credit: Victoria Akvarel | Pexels
Multi-strand anklets are perfect if you want the layered look without the risk of tangling multiple anklets. These anklets feature various strands on a single anklet creating the illusion of wearing several at once.
As you can see, your options are limitless when it comes to ankle bracelet styles.
Now, how do you wear an anklet bracelet?
The way you choose to style your anklet is entirely up to you!
Whether you think of anklets as an eclectic and versatile way to accessorize your outfits or you’re a firm believer in what ankle bracelets mean — do you! As long as you feel confident, there’s no wrong way to wear your ankle bracelet.
If you’re looking for some guidance or inspiration, though, here are some of our favorite ways to rock some ankle bling:
Not a fan of too much matchy-matchy? No sweat. Mix up your metals for a fun, eclectic aesthetic. Silver hoops, gold bangles, and a seashell anklet? Oh, so chic!
Love all your anklets but can’t decide which to wear? Radiate the hippie-surfer vibes by stacking them all up at once!
Barefoot sandals were made for the beach. Add a glittery, boho touch to your beach look and draw attention to your fresh pedi with a dainty barefoot sandal. This type of jewelry is also popular for brides having beach weddings.
Who says you can’t rock an anklet when it’s cold out? Transition them to the winter season by slipping them over your favorite boots for a glam revamp.
Still need some answers we haven’t addressed yet? Here are some frequently asked questions and answers about ankle bracelets:
Of course! Like all jewelry, anyone can wear ankle bracelets, regardless of gender or age. Ankles have the versatility for any style — masculine, feminine, and anywhere between.
The symbolism of anklets is mainly retired, except for a handful of cultures around the world. So feel free to rock your ankle bracelets on whichever leg your heart desires — right, left, or one on each!
Some scientists believe that wearing an ankle bracelet helps you balance the energy within your body. Others suggest that wearing them can help relieve leg pain or discomfort and regulate blood circulation.
As much as we love the idea of rocking your ankle jewelry 24/7, there are a few guidelines to keep in mind to ensure its lifespan and avoid an inappropriate anklet moment.
Avoid wearing chunky or jingly ankle bracelets to quiet places like work, school, a library, or a memorial.
Always double-check that your ankle bracelet is fastened securely to keep it from falling off.
Be careful wearing your anklet underneath jeans or heavy fabrics, as the rough material could tarnish or damage your ankle bracelet.
Don’t wear your ankle bracelet with tights or pantyhose, as it can easily tear or snag the delicate fabric.
It’s easy to see why ankle bracelets are attractive and appealing to so many people worldwide. Their beauty parallels their rich and vibrant history, adding to their charm.
Today, anyone can wear anklets without worrying about what message they’re putting out in the world. The only thing that matters is how great you feel in them!
Add a little bling to your ankles and put your most fabulous step forward. Besides, why should your wrist have all the fun?
Ready to shop? Browse our collection of anklet bracelets today!
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