What’s more fun than wearing your favorite necklace? Wearing your favorite necklaces! My favorite trend in jewelry right now is necklace layering. It’s a great way to get that effortlessly cool look you see in fashion magazines without having to spend a million dollars.
Of course, like most things that look effortlessly cool, it takes some effort to master a cool layered necklace look. With necklines dropping as warmer weather rolls in–and the world just starting to open up again—there’s no better time to play around with stacking your strands! Here are a few tips to get you started.
Choose three necklaces of different lengths that look good together (more on that in a minute). Once you get the hang of it with three, adding more layers is a snap. Here’s the quick-and-dirty on necklace lengths:
Choker This one you probably know already. It’s the shortest and sits right around your neck. Neck sizes vary, but typical choker length is 14”-16”.
Princess (16”-18”): This one hits at or just below your lower neckline.
Matinée (20”-24”): This one falls right around your bust line.
Opera (28”-32”): This one hangs just below the bust line.
Rope (32”+): These are the ones you often see people wrapping around a couple of times.
For a simple layered effect, try combining a choker with a princess and matinée.
Without a common element to your necklace choices, you risk just looking a mess. So, choose an element of symmetry for your necklaces–something that brings them all together so they complement each other. For a more formal look, you might layer strands of pearls. For a beachy kind of vibe, maybe you choose some silver chains with pops of turquoise, bone, and/or coral.
Don’t Be too Matchy-Matchy
While you want your necklaces to complement each other, necklace layering is at its best when it doesn’t look like a matching set. If your symmetry element is rose gold chains, you could add some visual interest by combining different chain styles. You might pair your classic cable chain with a rope chain and a ball chain.
And by the way, they do make matching layered sets, if you’d rather take the easy way into necklace layering. And many of them are very lovely. But they lack the certain je ne sais quoi of homespun layering.
Consider Your Canvas
“Your canvas” is your clothing and skin. Your necklace choices should complement your outfit and help create whatever look you’re going for. Want to add a touch of elegance to a simple black dress? Layer a few delicate chains. (Take them as low as you dare to go!) Going for a more playful vibe? Throw on a few strands of colorful beads!
Pendants work especially well against the skin if you’re wearing a v-neck, while strands of pearls complement a sweetheart neckline.
They make adjustable chains in many different styles. Whether you wear them plain or add a pendant, they make it super easy to achieve just the right layered effect for your outfit.
Keep in mind that the shorter you make it in the front, the more chain you’ll be adding to the back. But you can use that to your advantage—strands going down the back (“backlaces”?) are also trending! (Look up the iconic image of Audrey Hepburn gazing into a Tiffany’s window with pearls layered over the back of her little black dress, and you’ll understand why.)
Once you’ve got the basics down, throw away the rule book. Fashion, at its best, is an outlet for self-expression, and rules are the antithesis of self-expression. Have some fun with it!
And that, friends, is my best advice for layering necklaces. I hope everyone is staying safe and healthy during these trying times. If you’re bored at home, maybe you can take out your necklace collection and play!
Liz Ruppert spent the first two decades of her professional life in marketing, copywriting, and managing content strategy for non-profit and government websites in Washington, DC. Now, she works as a freelance writer. She and her husband, Ken, moved to the country a few years ago to enjoy the fresh air and peace and quiet. They have two cats--Cleo and Matilda--and a labradoodle named Busby Berkeley.