The anklet is a bracelet for the feet, worn around the ankle like a chain. Anklets are commonly worn in countries like Egypt and India, where they have a much greater cultural significance than anywhere else. In fact, in India, anklets or payals have been worn for centuries by women and carry a lot of spiritual and religious weight.
To women in India they are just as important as necklaces, earrings and rings; in fact, many women wear them even as part of their daily wardrobe. The tinkling sound made when stepping in an anklet is considered highly feminine and attractive, a marker that a woman has entered the room.
At the same time, in many parts of the country they are an inseparable part of the bridal attire. Apart from this kind of historical significance in South Asia, anklets also enjoy modern day popularity in western countries, where they have become a hit fashion accessory for bare or sandal-clad feet.
Variety of anklets
The greatest variety of styles and designs in anklets for women can be found in India, where one can find not just the traditional types but also the modern or fusion variations. An Indian anklet is typically made of silver, with bells or balls attached. It is sometimes a bit more intricate with the metal woven into a band of designs; the more elaborate silver anklets may even come studded with beads, pearls or stones.
The most elaborate anklet are those worn by brides on their special day. Part of the sixteen necessary decorations for a bride, these are usually quite thick with multiple layers of chains and adorned with myriad embellishments, from stones, pearls and beads to bells, shells, gems or Kundan work. Meenakari, the technique of creating colorful enameled designs on metal surfaces, is frequently used on anklets to add another element of color and beauty to the bridal look.
You will rarely find a traditional gold anklet with Indian designs, since in Indian culture gold is considered a ‘metal of the gods’ which should not be worn on the feet. However nowadays gold plated or gold tinted anklets with more modern designs are quite common.
Other common materials used to create anklet jewelry nowadays include plastic, thread, leather, yarn and various alloys. They come with colorful beads or small metallic motifs of flowers, fish, birds or funky motifs of skulls or owls. The main advantage of this type of anklet jewellery is that it is low-priced. This makes it easy to incorporate the latest trends and designs in your casual wardrobe without shelling out huge sums of money.
Anklets are not just for women; they can also be worn by men and children. In India, anklets for girls as young as 6 months old can be found and they are worn by girls of all ages. This practice of buying baby anklets has a traditional value but is also a good way to dress up young children without loading them with cumbersome accessories.
Traditionally, in certain regions of India, men also wear anklets, though the design is different than the one for women. Anklets for men tend to be thin, simple pieces with a few beads added for décor; a more ethnic style might be thicker, made of silver or alloys and inflexible like a bangle rather than a bracelet. This is one of the few accessory types which can add to the ‘coolness’ of an outfit for men rather than reduce it.
The anklet has really come into its own and one can find these items used to accessorize looks not just on ramps and red carpets but in movies and television shows as well. This is not just limited to Indian anklets, but the fusion and western varieties as well.
The reason for this popularity is that the anklet adds a funky yet feminine vibe to the outfit instantly. It has an ethnic charm and depending on the designs, can be subtle or ornate. With an anklet, women can add a personalized touch to any trendy look. For instance adding gold anklets to black leggings creates a wonderfully dramatic contrast; pairing this with a large gold necklace with similar designs is a good way to get a stylish look without much effort. The simple Indian payal or silver anklet goes beautifully with salwar kameez and kurta pajamas, fitting in with the over-all ethnic vibe.
With western and indo western looks, beaded anklets would be a good choice. One can match the color of the beads to the color of the tunic, top or dress. Obviously shoes which don’t go beyond the ankles have to be worn; open heels sandals or flats would be a great match with bright, colorful anklets.