Read the updated version of this post here!
This is a tricky subject, as the various styles of necklines sit differently depending on your shoulder width, bust size, and rib cage span … not to mention the fact that my opinions vary from those of some experts. But I think I can illustrate my reasoning with a few do and dont photos, and let you make your own choices from there!
My overall feeling is that a necklace must:
- NOT compete with the neckline of your top
- Fill the visible neck/chest area
- Or, in the case of closed necklines, create contrast
Let’s look at some examples.
A standard v-neckline is typically the most flattering style available. But you can counteract its face-slimming abilities by selecting a necklace that draws attention upward to your neck, such as a choker.
Ideally, your necklace should fill up the visible bare skin, as this bib does. But a pendant that sits about an inch from the tip of the V will work just as well. Unlike the tight-fitting choker, these styles work with the V to draw the eye up and down. A pendant that sits about an inch from the V will also work.
Some folks love the look of a close-fitting necklace with a looooooong, deep neckline. It looks fantastic on celebs sporting dresses cut to the navel, and I suppose it’s a passable look for us normal folks. But, much like the less revealing V, I feel that a shorter necklace cancels out the elongating effects of the neckline.
My preference is a longer necklace, one that fills most or all of the visible space. Vertical lines are created and, with them, a more flattering overall look. I also feel less naked in a neckline this revealing if there’s a big chunk of jewelry in there … but that’s just me!
One of my least favorite looks is that of a pendant on a short chain worn over a turtleneck. The wearer looks like she’s being choked! Tucking the chain inside the funnel and letting the pendant dangle out isn’t much better.
You’re better off selecting a long necklace to pair with your t-necks. Length and chunkiness should be determined by your taste, as well as how various styles sit upon your bust. But pick something that will draw the eye up and down. A turtleneck creates an abrupt visual halt right at your chin, but a long necklace can mitigate that harsh line.
Now, many women swear off crew necklines as the least flattering available, and I hear that. But I think some of the body- and neck-shortening effects of the crew can be balanced by the right necklace. Take a peek and see for yourself …
But first, the don’t. DON’T wear a necklace that is the exact length of your neckline. It’ll pop in and out of your shirt, serving as an annoyance and a distracting element in your outfit.
A nice, long necklace does a TON to make a crew neck less blunt. Once again, this piece draws the viewer’s eye up and down, creating a far more flattering look than a crewneck top worn alone. Here’s that contrast I referred to at the beginning of the post: The neckline is high and close, but the dark, long necklace creates a counterpoint to that rounded opening. Yes, a v-neck will do you better, but this ain’t all bad!
Another trick I like to employ is to create my OWN neckline by overlaying a large, spreading necklace over a crew. This necklace is so big and broad that I’d have to buy a very low-cut scoop-necked top to accommodate it on bare flesh … but layering it over my tee, it creates its own artificial neckline. And adds a whole lot of interest to a plain white shirt.
Longer length bib necklaces can work well with crew necklines, too. Here’s another piece that would basically require me to be topless in order to wear it against skin alone. And, once again, its length draws the eye down and counterbalances the effects of the tight-to-the-neck crew.
As with turtlenecks, shortish pendants just compete with the neckline. They look awkward and sloppy.
As with crew necklines, boat neck tops look odd when necklaces hit right at the collar. They’ll duck in and out of your top as you move your body, and fight with the lines created by the broad, shallow opening.
Yes, yes, I’m a big fan of the long necklace … but can you see why? Especially if a boat or slash neckline draws attention to broad shoulders or a large bust, creating some vertical interest with a long necklace works wonders. A choker could work with this neckline as well … but honestly, chokers are tough to pull off under ANY circumstances, so I’d recommend going long instead.
Ah HA! For once, the long necklace isn’t your best choice. I’m not a fan of this look because I feel there’s just too much going on. The necklace fights with the placket, and creates a look lacking in unity.
I am fresh out of square-necked tops, so they were omitted from this tutorial … but you can probably guess what I’ll recommend: Find a piece that fills up that space, likely a larger, horizontally styled pendant, bib, or layered chains.
When choosing a necklace to fill up that exposed chest area, make sure to leave a little bit of space between the jewelry and the neckline. A half-inch to and inch should do the trick.