Your One-Stop Primer on Embracing the Earring

If you, like millions of viewers around the world, tuned into The Last Dance each week this past spring, you might've noticed something shiny glinting inconspicuously from MJ's ever-vigilant ears. Yes, the man who singlehandedly made basketball one of the biggest sports in the world and the NBA a global superpower—ushering in the era of the athlete-as-brand in the process—unabashedly rocked an earring. And hot damn he looked cool doing it.

Sure, it doesn't hurt that His Airness was handsome as all hell and carried himself with a swagger befitting the generation-defining personality he was, but part of Jordan's appeal has always been how he's presented himself, from the brazen tongue-out drives to the basket to the sneakers that still fetch shockingly high prices on the resale market today.

Though Jordan's dedication to the unassuming gold chain is legendary, and long since immortalized in so many of the instantly recognizable images that remain a critical part of his mythology, the single hoop earring he wore with impunity throughout the latter part of his career endures as a key component of his off-court persona. (So much so that the signature accessory earned a prominent shoutout on Drake's 2011 album Take Care.)

All that's to say if you finished the series and couldn't shake the enduring image of MJ and his earring, you're not alone. There's something about the earring that's been bubbling up in the culture for a minute now, and Jordan's tacit endorsement of the style only adds to its appeal. Some of today's boldest dressers, led by a group of athletes and entertainers spanning a broad range of ages and backgrounds, have embraced the accessory as an everyday go-to, lending it a casual elegance a far cry from some of the, ah, less-tasteful styles of yesteryear.


And if you're about to hit me with some nonsensical argument about earrings being too dainty for your big, manly ears on some antiquated notions of masculinity bullshit, I'm really not here for it. All this coming from the dude who throws a hissy fit every time the closest Sweetgreen runs out of salmon, right? Fuck out of here. No one's forcing you to get your ears pierced, let alone recommending that all men everywhere should suddenly embrace the accessory without reserve. All I'm saying is that if you've been considering getting your ears pierced for a while now, the fickle tides of fashion—scandalized friends and family aside—are very much turning in your favor. (To be clear: for our purposes here I'm referring to a standard lower lobe piercing, although if you're itching to go further up the ear, by all means, man.)

On that note, I've rounded up the four styles you need to know before taking the plunge, and a few examples of each available now to get you started on your search. And hey, while there's no guarantee they'll turn you into the Michael Jordan of your respective field, they definitely can't hurt. Happy piercing.

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Swarovski Stud Earring Pack,

Studs remain the entry-level earring style for most men because they tend to be largely nondescript, especially if you're trying to dip your toes in the proverbial water without going for the fat gold crucifix right from the outset. (The fat gold crucifix: also a dope look!) If you're looking to invest in your first pair, a stud—like these Swarovski crystal-embellished ones—is a solid place to start. 

Prizm Stud Earrings, Third Crown,


Angular studs that look like they dropped right off a priceless Calder and into your regular accessory rotation. 

Silver Skull Earrings, Chin Teo,

Some serious pirate swagger, in the best way possible. 

Gold Single Diamond Stud Earring, Pearls Before Swine,

A cut gem you don't have to be KG to appreciate (or afford).  

Silver Hoop Earrings, Topman,

The hoop earring has always been a favorite of more creative types (think actors, artists, etc.) and recently it's experienced a serious resurgence among some of today's most discerning dressers. The silver ones here, from Topman, include small triangle pendants for a bit of added personality. 


Baroque Earrings, Reclaimed Vintage,

Mixed metal hoops that look like a family heirloom-in-the-making, assuming any of your children end up with half as much drip as their old man. 

Hungry Baby Snake Single Earring, All Blue,

If they're good enough for MJ they're sure as hell good enough for your sorry ass. 

Bangle Single Earring, La Gramme,

A polished silver take with engraving so subtle it'll be your little secret. 

Single Key Hoop Earring, Emanuele Bicocchi,


The dangly earring is where things start to get funky (and fun!) because, frankly, there's no mistaking one of these little guys for anything other than a statement. The key (ha) to pulling off the look? Choose wisely, proceed with confidence, and then wait for the compliments to start rolling in. 

Silver Dog Tag Single Earring, Martine Ali,

Sure, the dog tag detail might be inspired by the military (as so much is in menswear), but it's hard to imagine an accessory that looks more individualistic. 

Pyramid Cross Drop Earring, Northskull,

I've said it once and I'll say it again: a little religious iconography goes a long way. And hey, if you're the type of dude that can pull off rocking a small dangly cross (you'll know if you are), it'd be a shame not to lean into the look. 

Logo & Pill Charm Mono Earring, Ambush,

A cheeky, safety pin-inspired style courtesy of Yoon Ahn and the Ambush team. 


Asymmetric Handcuff Earrings, Topman,

The novelty earring can be any one of the three styles described above—with a little added personality to boot—and often falls into the sole domain of the special occasion outfit, or the one-time flex. And that's fine! Consider it the final finishing touch on a particularly big fit (and for further inspiration, see Harry Style's internet-baiting, dangly pearl number from last year's Met Gala). 

Gold Paper Clip Earrings, Gogo Philip Studio,

Skip the part of the day where you spend half an hour aimlessly searching for the paper clip you "swore you left right there" and (carefully) yank it out of your ear instead. Voila: Problem solved. 

Forever Lit Earrings, Johnny Nelson,

*Insert half-assed pun riffing on heat-related adjectives here* 

Facetasm Beer Cap Earring, Vibe Harsløf,


For the not-so-degenerate drinker, a subtle reminder of beers bygone. 

This story originally appeared on Minor edits have been made by the editors.

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Avidan Grossman
Avidan Grossman is the Style eCommerce Editor at Esquire, covering men’s fashion, shoes, grooming, and accessories. He spends way too much time deciding what to wear. Needless to say, his parents still have no idea what he does.
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