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There’s a uniform for guys on Love Island. You start with a pair of swim shorts to complement a perfect six-pack, toss in a hilariously visible microphone pack at the waist, and top things off with a pair of sunglasses. Shirts strictly optional. It’s minimal, but it works. Has for ages. So imagine my shock when I realized that a new addition has made its way into this reliable lineup. That’s right: The Love Island guys are wearing pearl necklaces.
On a show where being scantily clad is the norm, even the slightest sartorial shifts feel seismic. And let’s be honest with ourselves: Love Island isn’t too good at breaking the status quo, especially in terms of heteronormativity and its style trappings.
This is why, when I was watching this week’s episode and noticed every single man in the Cape Town villa was wearing a pearl necklace—and yes, they were all pearl specifically, not silver or gold chains—I was pleasantly surprised. Are we finally, truly in the era where pearl necklaces for men are so commonplace and fashionable that enterprising young British blokes would confidently wear them in their pursuits of love and fame, broadcast to the entire world? Yes. Yes, we are.
Pearl necklaces for dudes aren’t anything new. They were, maybe, in 2020, when Vivienne Westwood’s iconic Orb Choker went viral amongst TikTok thirst-trappers. They’ve stuck around in smaller ways since then—a red carpet sighting here or there, on the neck of a Chalamet or a Rocky or a Davidson or a Styles.
But it’s easy (or easier) for the kings of mens’ fashion to make a pearl necklace look cool. Trendsetters and trailblazers that they are, they wear their strands in a professionally styled, high-fashion, paparazzi-ready way. That tends to be a pretty far cry from the casual way everyday dudes will toss on a silver chain or a signet ring. So on a raunchy reality show where toxic masculinity runs free in eight-week stints, boys in pearl necklaces were hardly on the bingo card. For the pearl necklace to be on not one, not two, but all six necks of the Love Island lads? I’ve been watching for years, and I can assure you that this widespread jewelry-wearing in the villa is new for the guys.
What’s it all mean? That the pearl necklace is poised for the mainstream. After all, most Love Island fashion choices are rooted in the familiar. The unchallenging. The contestants bring in clothing and accessories that are easy to style (for themselves) and understand (for the audience). They could have easily foregone pearl necklaces altogether. Usually, they do. But not so this season.
Perhaps the greatest part of the Love Island pearl necklaces is that they were varied. Individualized. Some boys wore pearls intermingled with blue beads, some wore just pearls. Some wore large necklaces, others daintier ones. The options are endless when you’re wintering in South Africa with a bunch of hot singles and trying to draw attention to your otherwise bare chest. But it’s not just those chests that deserve your attention. It’s the fact that, if even the Love Island guys are wearing them, pearl necklaces have well and truly arrived. And if you’re looking for love–or just a new addition to your accessory rotation—it might just be time to follow the boys’ lead.
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