Which Ankle To Wear An Anklet On: A Guide

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Is there a correct ankle to wear an anklet on? Or does anything go?

The confusion as to which ankle to wear an anklet on stems from the fact that it’s one of the oldest pieces of jewelry around, Anklets have been worn by different cultures around the world through different periods in history.

The quick answer is: in the western world, it doesn’t matter what ankle you wear an anklet on. In other cultures, you may want to ask because there is a lot of variation.

Throughout the ages, the anklet has taken on different symbolism and various meanings depending on the region, culture, and time they were worn.

In this article, we are going to take a look at the history of anklets and what they symbolized to different cultures over time. We’ll also discuss if any of the more recent symbolism still applies to wearing an anklet today.

We are also going to go over the Do’s & Don’ts of wearing an ankle bracelet and do a little window shopping! We’ll take a look at the different types of anklet styles available and talk about which styles are appropriate for which settings.


The History Of Anklets

The anklet has a long history.

Women in India and Sri Lanka have been wearing anklets for over 8,000 years, known as pattilu, payal, golusu, or nupur, depending on the region and the language spoken.

Though young, single women and girls also wore anklets, it was standard for new brides to be gifted an ankle bracelet adorned with charms to symbolize a fruitful marriage.

It’s thought that the purpose of those charms was to announce the ‘woman’s presence’ from the jingling… though we’re pretty sure that’s just a really nice way to say ‘to warn the husbands that their wife is coming, so she can’t sneak up on them’.

Photo by Saksham Gangwar on Unsplash

Artifacts believed to be anklets were discovered in exhumed Sumerian tombs in ancient Mesopotamia dating as far back as 6000 BC. These anklets were made from naturally occurring materials like wood, stone, and bones, as well as precious metals.

It’s thought that these anklets were worn just as accessories as well as to indicate social status and rank.

Khalakheel were anklets worn by Ancient Egyptians. The Sumerian and Egyptian brides and rich women wore those made from precious metals and stones. Slaves, on the other hand, wore anklets made from wood or leather.

Photo by James V Sajeeve on Unsplash

In some areas of South East Asia some women wore an anklet on both ankles, connected by a chain to ‘limit the step’. Now one may argue that what is considered feminine and proper, the idea of which has changed drastically through the ages, was the reason for this restrictive practice, sort of like etiquette training.

Though one could just as easily argue they were more like leg shackles, so the woman couldn’t run away.

Though one could just as easily argue they were more like leg shackles, so the woman couldn’t run away.

Women from Eastern Asia wore an anklet, connected to a toe ring with a chain. This type of anklet is actually still around today in some parts of Asia and in the West.

Here, it’s called a barefoot ankle bracelet and is quite popular among brides having a beach wedding. After all, how are you supposed to walk down a sand aisle in heels?

Anklets have been worn in Africa since well… forever. It’s unknown when anklets first became a thing, but they have been worn by both men and women throughout Africa for thousands of years.

And because Africa is such a huge continent with so many different cultures, languages, and rituals, anklets have been worn to symbolize everything from marital status, wealth, and social status, to offerings to females for permission to ask for their hand in marriage, as ceremonial wear, and as a symbol of cultural pride. 

Photo by Magdalena Kula Manchee on Unsplash

Fast forward to more recent times and to this side of the planet, it wasn’t until the mid-twentieth century that ankle bracelets eventually made their way across the ocean into Western society.

They reached a peak in popularity during the 1970s, as the ideal ankle accessory to match the popular bohemian style of that time.


Which Ankle To Wear An Anklet On

There are two answers to the question of what ankle to wear an anklet on:

  1. If you are traveling in a country in which the anklet holds cultural symbolism, ASK someone who lives there what is appropriate. There is no one right answer because it can mean different things in different places.
  2. The anklet has NO cultural significance in the Western hemisphere, whatsoever. So it doesn’t matter what ankle you wear it on.

Since its introduction to the West, society has, through the last half-century, associated different social meanings to anklets, as to what they represent and what it means to wear them on the left or right ankle.

But you only have to do a quick Google search to find out that they are all completely conflicting.

So apparently wearing an anklet on your left ankle is a sign that a woman is engaged or married. But at the same time it’s also a sign that you are looking for a casual relationship or you are into open relationships.

Wearing an anklet on the right ankle supposedly means you are either single and searching, or a call girl. Oh, but if you are married and you wear it on your right ankle – it means you are looking for an extra-marital affair.

Does anyone else detect a pattern? According to the symbolism Western society has attached to anklets in the past, you can’t wear one without saying “I’m a little tart”. So this means you certainly can’t wear one if you are in a happy, committed relationship or marriage, and certainly not if you are single and NOT looking for love or hookups.

All of this is completely RIDICULOUS!

All of this is completely RIDICULOUS!

Even though anklets have been worn throughout history in other places, if you think about it, they are a little bit unorthodox as jewelry goes for the West.

They are really just a symbol of expression that became really popular in the 70s when defiance of social norms was the norm.

Don’t forget, It was not that long ago that women couldn’t even vote. Women today still make, on average, a 1/3 less salary for the same position as men do. For some, women having the freedom to express themselves is a slippery slope to world domination – better nip this in the bud!

The only symbolism wearing an anklet on either ankle means today is what it means for you.

The only symbolism wearing an anklet on either ankle means today is what it means for you.

It also doesn’t have to mean anything… “It’s just pretty” is reason enough to wear one if you want to.

If you let others impose their antiquated, misogynistic insecurities on what you do, you are just part of the problem and perpetuating the perception that women’s freedom should and needs to be repressed.

We’ve come a long way, baby… but there is still a long way to go.

So let’s keep moving toward the end goal of just being treated equally. You can start by wearing an ankle bracelet on whichever ankle you want to!


The Do’s And Dont’s Of Wearing Ankle Bracelets

Despite the whole diatribe about not letting people tell you what to do, we have a few pointers as to how to wear your ankle bracelet.

But these are more practical pointers.

  • DO: wear your anklet on whichever ankle you want to.
  • DON’T: wear it on top of pantyhose or tights. It’s actually more of a practical thing, as it’s likely to catch and cause a run.
  • DO: choose an anklet style appropriate for your setting and outfit.
  • DON’T: wear anklets to the office. Anklets are not appropriate for a formal office setting.
  • DO: make sure your feet are well groomed! Get a pedicure before donning an anklet because it will draw people’s attention to your feet.
  • DON’T: position your anklet so low that any charms are touching the ground
  • DO: feel free to layer thinner anklets
  • DON’T: wear really really jingly anklets, unless you are going super casual. For anything other than super casual, apart from being annoying to everyone else around you, jingly anklets are inappropriate.

What Kind of Anklet Should I Wear?

Photo by Sonuj Giri on Unsplash

We mentioned that you should choose an anklet that is appropriate for your outfit and setting. This just means you need to figure out if you are going casual or more dressy.

Super Casual Anklets

When we say super casual, this is for time you are just running around doing errands, going to the beach, to the coffee shop, hanging out with friends for a backyard barbeque, going surfing, kind of thing.

Anklets that are beaded, made with embroidery thread, leather, and/or have lots of charms are considered super casual.

Super Casual Anklet 1 Super Casual Anklet 2 Super Casual Anklet 3 Super Casual Anklet 4 Super Casual Anklet 5 Super Casual Anklet 6

Casual Anklets

This would be a step up from super casual. That’s to say, anytime you are going out and maybe meeting people you don’t know so well, or for any environment that calls for something a little more refined, but not necessarily dressy or formal.

You should be looking at something thinner, maybe in silver. A casual anklet should be less ornate than a super casual anklet.

Casual Anklet 1 Casual Anklet 2 Casual Anklet 3 Casual Anklet 4 Casual Anklet 5

Dressy Anklets

For a more dressy occasion, gold is always a good option. But silver can also work just as well, as long as your anklet matches the rest of your jewelry. Keep it simple and elegant.

Dressy Anklet 1 Dressy Anklet 2 Dressy Anklet 3 Dressy Anklet 4 Dressy Anklet 5

Conclusion

In Western culture there is no cultural significance attached to anklets, so whether you wear them on your left or right ankle, or even both, it’s totally up to you!

Written by Kayla Young

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