I’ve been asked many times for more guidance to wearing necklaces and accessorizing, so I finally got around to writing this post. I hope it’s helpful!
Part of the knack of accessorizing is finding your personal style and then rocking it with confidence. I basically adhere to the “less is more” approach to accessorizing, so I rarely will overdo it when it comes to accessories. Some may find it plain, but I’m always more drawn to subtle pieces, and if in doubt, I’ll do without.
Of course, trends come and go, and they definitely influence how we accessorize, but it’s important to weigh each trend against your personal style and adapt them to work for you.
That said, accessories are a great place to take a fashion risk. A necklace is a relatively small investment, so go ahead and try on something that you may feel is a bit out of your comfort zone. You never know, you may like it!
As far as current trends go, layering delicates is taking the place of chunky statement necklaces, and a lot of times I notice women foregoing a necklace altogether in favor of a more minimalist style.
Also, with chunky sweaters and big turtlenecks being popular right now, sometimes you don’t need for a necklace at all. That will change a bit as spring and summer fashions take over, but anyway, let’s get to some examples.
Necklace Styling Tips
1. First determine if your top needs a necklace at all, and where you want the focal point of your outfit to be.
For example, is the top half of your outfit plain, so it needs a larger necklace to be the hero piece? Or do you just want a small, subtle necklace to fill in a deep neckline? Or do you have a neckline with ruffles or other embellishment that precludes you from wearing a necklace at all?
If the necklace is going to be your hero piece, you will choose that first and select the rest of your accessories to compliment it. But if you know you want to wear statement earrings or a top that is busy, the necklace will be chosen last so that it supports the rest of the outfit without competing with it.
2. Keep it simple if your outfit is busy, and conversely, a bold necklace can be a great addition to a basic outfit.
This leopard top is busy, so I didn’t wear a necklace and opted for larger earrings instead.
If I did put a necklace with this, I think a shorter, chunky necklace would look best. Anything delicate wouldn’t show up against the leopard, and a bib necklace compliments a crew neck best. These don’t look best on me, so I went without. (See more of this look.)
Another good example of a busy look is this outfit with the fair isle sweater.
A necklace would compete with the pattern on the yoke, and in this case, I even kept my earrings simple with small studs so they wouldn’t interfere with the high turtleneck.
On the other hand, this grey crewneck sweater is plain, so it needs something.
I layered two necklaces to create some more visual weight and also to help elongate the upper body. Pardon the frizzy hair; it was raining! (See more.)
This pink ruffle neck sweater is a situation in which a necklace is optional, in my opinion.
I did wear one, but I didn’t really need it because there’s a lot going on with the ruffle neck and blouson sleeves and the overall ribbed texture. That said, it is has a high neck and a plain front, so the necklace doesn’t compete too much, and I always feel like a long pendant helps to visually elongate my short upper body.
Keep in mind, there is no right and wrong here, and at the end of the day, your accessory choices need to best match your personal style, but hopefully these examples are helpful.
3. Select a necklace that compliments the neckline of your top.
A v-neck top looks great with a shorter pendant (16″ or 18″) because it imitates the v-shape and fills the neckline.
This outfit is another good example. The pendant is just big enough to fill the neckline, and as an added bonus, it is a mix of gold and silver tone metals so it works no matter which metal is in your other accessories.
A more modern look is to layer a few necklaces with a v-neckline.
I love necklaces that come in 3 or 4 layers that come apart so you can change up the look. One of my favorites is this Lucky Brand layered necklace, but it has finally sold out. I’ve had it for years. This one is similar. (See more of this look.)
This picture is old, but I love this layered necklace on a plain white v-neck tee. (See more of this look.)
Here’s another v-neck with a layered pendant. I like how this necklace is a little longer and doesn’t really fill the neckline but adds a little something to the busy blouse. And yes, I realize I’m contradicting #2 with this look, but again, there are no hard and fast rules here. (See more.)
Here’s a shorter layered look in a v-neck. I love this Gorjana 3-disc necklace for filling a v-neckline but keeping the look delicate. (See more of this look and also see this necklace in action here.)
Crewnecks and rounded necklines look good with short, chunky necklaces. This is a rare occasion when I actually wore a bib necklace; usually I don’t care for them on me with my larger chest, but I thought this dress needed it. (See more of this look.)
Here’s another example with the same necklace. (See more.)
I also wear this circle pendant a lot with turtlenecks.
And here’s that layered station necklace again. I really wish it hadn’t sold out! It’s so good. (See more.)
Sometimes it’s best to forego a necklace altogether. This top has a high, gathered neckline, so I didn’t wear a necklace and opted for big statement earrings. It was also a dressy holiday outfit, so I went for the bling. (See more of this look.)
In this look, this sweater has a lot of detail in the knit, plus the high neck is split in the back. A necklace would interfere with the neck and compete with the pattern in the sweater. (See more of this look.)
And sometimes I even forego a necklace in open neck tops. You know how in art, they say you need some white space, a place for your eye to rest? I think the same can be said for outfits. Sometimes I just like the simplicity of no necklace.
This summer look is a good example, and as you can see, I went with larger earrings and a layered bracelet look.
And for this holiday look, the blouse is busy, so I went with larger statement earrings and a cuff bracelet and left the chest area open.
Off-the-shoulder tops are perfect palettes for choker necklaces, but I usually just go without and opt for bigger earrings.
I also rarely wear a necklace with cowl neck tops. Some women do, but personally I feel that look is dated. (See more of this look.)
4. Tips on pairing earrings and necklaces…
Generally you want to choose one to be the hero piece and the other to support the hero piece. In this case, the necklace is the hero piece, and I wore pearl studs as the supporting earrings. With the ruffle cuffs on the dress, I didn’t feel it needed a bracelet, so I went without.
Sometimes I wear two delicates together, but I never wear two statement pieces together. It’s hard to find good examples where you can see the earrings — especially when they’re more delicate, but I often wear this delicate layered pearl necklace with pearl stud earrings. (See more.)
One of my best accessorizing tips is to find a pairing that works well together, and wear them together a lot. There’s no need to reinvent the wheel every time you get dressed unless you have fun doing that. I prefer to find a few good pairings and stick with what works. Sometimes I will purchase a pair of earrings specifically to go with a necklace I wear a lot — and vica versa.
For example, I purchased these large silver hoops and this silver disc necklace together, and I almost always wear them together. The pendant is large and shiny so I like how these tubular hoops have a little more visual weight than a thinner hoop, and they compliment the necklace without competing with it. (See more of this look.)
Another pairing I wear together a lot is this delicate beaded necklace with these hammered silver circle drop earrings. They’re both delicate, and they both have a similar hammered silver finish, so they really work well together.
Also, this is an example of two pieces that are more equal in visual weight — both delicates, and pair well together. There’s no hero piece here.
When in doubt, I wear diamond studs or pearl studs with whatever necklace I’m wearing. Thin hoops are also a good staple piece to have in whatever metal you usually wear because they go with a lot of different necklaces.
Also, it’s a good idea to have some casual jewelry pieces and some dressier pieces so you can match the formality of your accessories to the outfit and occasion you’re dressing for. As far as how many of each, it really depends on your lifestyle and what you wear the most.
5. Matchy-matchy is out.
It is more modern to choose jewelry pieces that coordinate with each other, not a matching set. It’s also fine to mix high end and low end pieces. Sometimes I wear genuine pearl earrings with a $15 Kohl’s necklace, and I often wear my David Yurman pieces with fashion jewelry.
Putting jewelry together is fun, but it can be challenging, especially when trends are in flux. I hope these tips are helpful!
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