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Social justice movements have been attracting a lot of attention from the media and the general public who want to get involved in the last few years. The LGBTQ community has made many strides toward achieving a greater sense of equality and, lately, the Black Lives Matter movement has regained some momentum as supporters gather to protest police brutality and systemic racism that has been built into many of our country’s institutions. 

Right now is the time to take action and to look to other influential leaders who are guiding these movements and helping to change the system for inspiration. But being a leader doesn’t mean you need to ditch your unique sense of style. We’ve rounded up some examples of prominent activists who know how to command a room but also rock gold bracelets for men or funky necklaces for women to keep them looking like the boss ladies and men that they are. 

Influential Leaders in Social Justice

raised fist in air

Barack Obama

Do you ever find yourself just sitting around reminiscing about the good ol’ days when the internet was filled with photos of Barack Obama passing out Halloween candy to a toddler dressed as the pope? Or, his dead-pan comedic appearance on Zack Galafinakis’s show Between Two Ferns? Or, the adorable family photos of him, Michelle, and their two daughters? Really, the list could go on and on. The point is, we miss Obama. Dearly. And, we’re guessing you probably do, too. 

Although he may no longer be our Commander-in-Chief, Obama continues to fight the good fight for equality across gender, race, and sexual orientation. His administration was part of the monumental decision to redefine marriage, allowing same sex couples to legally marry according to federal law. Today, he has been outspoken about the clear issue of police brutality in this country, offering potential solutions and supporting activist groups working to dismantle institutionalized racism. 

Basically, Obama is the man, and we should all view his work and his spirit as an inspiration. But, Obama isn’t afraid to give us a little taste of his personality. While most of us are used to seeing him in a simple but sharp blue suit with a neat tie at his neck, Obama has been known to rock looks with a little more spark when he’s off the clock. (Remember the first post-prez pic of him kitesurfing in the Virgin Islands? You earned it, buddy.) 

Because he’s so often in the spotlight, there is pressure to always seem professional and presentable. Obama chooses to show off his jewelry in an understated manner by wearing a nice watch like a Rolex or a few gold bracelets for men. You can get this same look, even mixing and matching your watches with bracelets for a little extra pop.

Michelle Obama

Okay, we can’t spend all that time talking about Barack and not mention Michelle too. Absolute queen. Michelle Obama was very hands-on from the moment the Obamas took to the White House. Hands-on as a First Lady—and as a mother. She put her heart into her Let’s Move! program aimed at reducing childhood obesity and teaching children (and adults) how to eat a healthy diet while also reasoning with her two daughters. 

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Although Obama made some amazing strides in terms of her career and her role as First Lady, she also receives a lot of credit for being super chic and fashionable. Selecting cuts and colors that work with her body type, Obama was able to maintain a very professional look that allowed people to take her seriously while also showing off her fun personality. When it comes to jewelry, Obama seems to gravitate toward chunky or dangly earrings and delicate necklaces.

Cynthia McKinney

In 1992, Cynthia McKinney became the first black woman to represent the state of Georgia in the U.S. House of Representatives. Her father, who was also a member of Congress at the time, nominated her for the position when he added her as a write-in on the ballot that year. McKinney didn’t think much would come of it, but she received so much support that she won the election and remained a representative until 2002, when she lost the election, though she was voted back in two years later. 

During her terms, McKinney was not afraid to speak her mind, and she spoke out against several warfare situations plus wanted to focus on injustice and unrest within the country. While McKinney certainly made an impact on policy, she also drew a lot of attention for her unique sense of style. 

Her gold tennis shoes were a staple piece in her wardrobe that definitely turned a few heads, but she also loved to rock chunky, flashy jewelry, as well as bright colors and eye-catching prints. For many women and men, she’s an inspiration because she didn’t succumb to conforming with the idea of what the people around her thought she should be wearing, but was still able to take her unique style and make it professional, earning the respect and attention of her colleagues. 

Van Jones

Perhaps best known for his role as a political commentator on CNN, Van Jones is a very important figure in terms of the modern social justice movement. He helped found the nonprofit Color for Change, along with three other nonprofit organizations and two campaigns called #cut50 and #YesWeCode. 

Since the beginning of his career, he has been known for his interests in protecting the environment and promoting what are known as “green jobs,” or fields that involve agriculture or energy efficiency in some way. But, he also is heavily involved in social justice movements surrounding racial inequality and police brutality. 

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With such a powerful position at his fingertips, Van Jones uses his platform to create new organizations and fight for what is right. Plus, he’s got some seriously dope style. That man looks fresh to death every time he steps on the set of CNN. Much like Obama’s style, he has a very simple, clean-cut appearance. As a professional in the world of politics, it’s important to be able to blend in and seem approachable. 

But, that doesn’t mean you need to ditch your sense of style altogether. Van Jones has been seen from time to time rocking a simple gold bracelet or a luxurious Rolex watch for men. These accessories enhance his professional appearance without distracting too much from the rest of his attire.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

Often referred to as simply AOC, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez made history in 2018 when she became the youngest person to become a Congresswoman at the age of 29. As a member of the Democratic party, AOC supports and advocates for a range of progressive initiatives, including Medicare for All, a Green New Deal, and abolishing ICE. AOC’s win was not only momentumental because of her age, but because she beat out a 10-term incumbent and is one of fewer than 50 Hispanic congress members, helping to diversify the landscape. 

AOC is the definition of a boss bitch. She has made huge strides since entering office, and she is paving the way for young women and fellow Hispanic community members to find their own voice in politics. Her style has captured many people’s attention—so much so that when she publicly announced the name and brand of the lipstick she frequently sports, the line sold out that day

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Like the other social justice leaders we’ve mentioned, AOC must maintain a certain level of professionalism on a daily basis to show people that she means business, but she lets herself play with her appearance to make it a bit younger and more fun. The bright red lipstick is probably her most notable fashion choice, but simple metal hoop earrings and chunky gold bracelets definitely add a pop of color to her generally neutral-toned pantsuits and skirt/blouse combos.

How to Make Your Jewelry Look Professional

All of these people, and the many other activists who are taking a stand and making a difference to change our world for the better, are an inspiration. But, as public figures, they have to delicately balance their personal and professional life. Dressing and acting in a professional manner is absolutely essential if you want to be taken seriously—not only as a political activist but as a businessman or a banker—or any other job that you may have or be interested in getting. But, that doesn’t mean you need to pack away your true personality. 

Here are some tips on rocking your gold chains for men to the office without losing your polished appearance. 

fashionable man sitting on park bench

Keep It Subtle

We love a flashy, iced-out gold chain with a dope Jesus piece pendant on it as much as the next dude, but, if you’re trying to be taken seriously at your job, this look isn’t going to cut it. That doesn’t mean that your style is inappropriate; it’s just not right for a work environment. You wouldn’t show up to a business meeting in swim trunks and a bare chest, right? It’s the same concept. 

Save your flashiest pieces for the next time you and the homies hit up the club. In the meantime, when you’re looking to add a little something to your work attire, try dressing up your outfit with a gold bracelet. Or, take your accessorizing to the next level with a men’s Rolex, the ultimate show of class and luxury. You can even wear your Rolex and a bracelet together to give off a sleek, chic  appearance.

Match Your Metals

If you’re a loyal Frost NYC customer, then you’ve definitely read our opinion on mixing metals, but we’re going to repeat it again here because it’s important information. When wearing more than one piece of jewelry, you should take the time to ensure that your different pieces are matching metals. 

For example, wearing a chunky white gold bracelet with an all-yellow gold Rolex is a hell no. It can come off as tacky and lacking in a sense of style. It almost makes it seem like you only have two pieces of jewelry and you just threw them both on randomly. Keep your metals the same. 

The only time it may be acceptable to experiment with this rule is if you’re planning to wear multiple necklaces, and still you would need an even combination of both white and yellow gold to make it look purposeful. However, layered-chain looks are better kept outside the office. 

man checking watch

Skip the Pendant

Pendants can make for the perfect accessory to add some bling to your plain gold chain, but pendants can be a bit too much when it comes to looking professional. We love to invest in a bunch of different pendants so we can simply swap out our pendants on different styles of chains for a new look every day. However, large pendants (especially iced-out versions) will draw too much attention to your chest and away from your professional manner and intellectual abilities. 

This is one of the reasons that so many social justice leaders wear very simple outfits—it helps people to focus less on their appearance and more on what they are saying. So, if you want to be taken seriously in a meeting or for a job interview, skip the pendant and save it for a night out.

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Channel Your Inner Social Justice Warrior

Regardless of what you do for work, there is a lot that we can learn from these brave men and women working to make our world a better place. We can look to them for inspiration on how to stand up for what we believe in and how to make a place for ourselves in a world that may not seem to have a space carved out for us. 

Although their impact is much deeper than just their sense of fashion, we can look to their styles to find ways in which we can incorporate our favorite pieces of jewelry like gold chains for men or dangling earrings for women in a professional wardrobe that commands respect and attention.

July 21, 2020

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