How to Wear Necklaces

Darla writes in:

I would like to know more about necklaces and what to wear with what – and examples of shirts that need them and shirts you would never put a necklace with, etc.

Wow, yeah, I need to know more about this too. Time to do some “research,” otherwise known as holing up at Barnes & Noble, sipping a latte, and thumbing through fashion mags. What a life!

I basically adhere to the “less is more” approach to accessorizing. I rarely will overdo it when it comes to accessories, and yet I’m always impressed with how some people wear necklaces over very busy outfits and look great. I think part of the knack of accessorizing is finding your personal style and then rocking it with confidence.

I’m just now coming into my own with accessorizing, and I’m looking the big FOUR-OH in the eye, so I may not be the best person to be doling out advice, but that’s never stopped me before.

A good general rule for accessorizing is this: If you are small with delicate features, you will look better in smaller, more delicate jewelry. If you are a bigger boned gal, then you can get away with bigger jewelry.

I’m in between, and I like my jewelry somewhere in between.


I used to always wear a small pendant of some sort, but sometimes they look diminutive in the overall composition of the outfit. They work best with a narrower neckline, when you don’t need so much to fill in, but you want a little something.


With deeper and/or broader necklines, it’s better to go with something that fills the space. I love this picture of Colleen and me in NYC back in 2008 for a Kyra Sedgewick event. So fun. Both of our tops had a deep V-neckline and we both wore necklaces that filled in. Hers is also a great example of using a pop of color on a neutral outfit. I tend to stick to silver or gold, but I love how she rocked that turquoise over the black and white outfit. I definitely want to start incorporating more color into my jewelry.

Here’s another top that definitely needs a filler necklace. I love how the Stella & Dot Riviera Coin Necklace fills in the neckline and adds interest to an otherwise simple top.


The exception to that rule is if the top has embellishment. Then I’ll often leave an open neckline open and opt for a pair of larger earrings instead of a necklace. That may not be the right thing to do, but I’m always afraid that a necklace would compete with the top so I go without.

Another time not to wear a necklace is when you have ruffles or other busyness going on in the blouse. Melissa wears a lot of these ruffly tops, and they stand alone — a pair of statement earrings, and you’re good to go!

In my case, I chose a necklace that I hoped wouldn’t interfere with the pattern in the top, and yet I knew I needed something. I opted for the statement earrings as well in this case.


Longer chain necklaces are a current look, and this is a great, inexpensive way to update your accessory wardrobe. You can wear these with almost any neckline.

Here are some girls rocking the long necklace:

Zareen, Whitney, Sheila, Cristie and Julie at Bloomingdales

I love how Zareen’s gold necklace dresses up a simple navy blue dress.

Whitney wears hers over a blouse that has some embellishment, and it looks great.

Sheila opted for the bold earrings and no necklace with her ruffly blouse.

And I like how Cristie combines several necklaces to make more of a statement. Just one would get lost in the pattern of the shirt. She also doubles up that one string of pearls so she has something close to the neck.

You can’t see Julie’s very well, but I believe that one is also Stella & Dot. I love how it fills in the neckline and has enough weight to offset the bold pattern in the dress without competing with it.

A long pendant is another type of necklace that I don’t do much of, but it can make a nice statement over a simple top. I don’t have a picture. SORRY!


Now here’s a neat trick for when you want to wear a long necklace but you don’t want to leave an open neckline bare. Wear both! Of course they have to coordinate, but Melissa pulls it off beautifully with this chocolate brown maxidress.


And I have one more trick for you. If you’re drawn to the long, delicate necklaces but you don’t always want to wear them long, you can double them up! By doubling it up, it looks more substantial, and you basically get two necklaces for the price of one! Here are two examples of this.

I hope this helps!

Join the Conversation

26 thoughts on “How to Wear Necklaces

  1. Great post! I think a woman must also consider her chest size, when deciding what kind of necklace to wear. A pendant necklace, if it’s very long, can get “lost.” And long, dangly necklaces can slip around on the torso, and not stay in place, if you’re large-chested. Just a thought.

    I have two simple silver chains that I wear a LOT, one short, and one a little longer. I like to wear a chain like that with a v-neck, b/c it gives a good contrast in shape: the shirt is v-shaped, and the necklace falls in a curve.

    I had to laugh when you mentioned “doubling up” necklaces. Years ago (like, 25 or 30?) multiple necklace wearing was popular – 3 or even 4, simultaneously, was not unusual. I think I’m glad that fad passed. It was too complicated for me!

    1. Yeah, I was going to address the busty thing, but I didn’t want it to get too complicated. I really don’t love the long chain necklace on me for that reason. It hangs off the chest area in a funny way. 🙂 But the more I wear that one, the more I like it. I think partly it has to do with finding the right one. Most don’t work for me. And I never wear a long pendant.

      And yeah… the layered thing. What goes around comes around, I guess! LOL.

  2. Great tutorial! I agree about the no necklace with a busy shirt. I too am envious of women who can just layer on necklaces and yet it still looks good! I’ve tried it, and I feel like a 5 year old girl who got into her mamas jewelry box! I have a few great Silpada piece and they are my “go to” necklaces when I can’t find one for a specific outfit. Also, as a big chested girl, I just don’t ever feel comfortable with necklaces that hang down over my chest.

    1. Yeah, I hear ya on the necklaces that hang down and the layering. See my comment to MK above. 🙂

  3. Great post! I feel like I’m just figuring out how to accessorize too. I think it has a lot to do with the fact that accessories have become huge in the past 5-8 years. Those of us who wore the same necklace just about every day are having to learn all sorts of new tips and rules to keep up with the times. Thankfully, it’s fun to learn and can be a relatively inexpensive way to be trendy. There have always been those who have a knack for accessorizing. They are the same people that can just throw a scarf on their heads and look elegant and put together. If I do that, I look like I’m hunkering down to clean my house for the day. Maybe it’s the confidence thing you mentioned. I dunno. I’m still working up the confidence to break out of my preppy comfort zone every once and a while! 🙂

  4. I love how you said to find what you are comfortable with and then rock it with confidence. I bought a very large necklace, a definite statement piece about six months ago that I usually would be terrified to wear because I am a smaller person. I loved it though and I find I wear it all the time. I can’t wear it with big earrings or really any other jewelry, but it works with a lot of things and it really makes an outfit.

    I posted a picture on my Thursday Threads post.

    I didn’t know you did a fashion Friday, love it! Glad I stopped by!

    1. Yes we do Fashion Friday every week! I hope you’ll join in. 🙂

      There are always exceptions to the rule, and my friend Julie (pictured in that group shot in this post) is a very small person but somehow manages to pull off big prints and statement jewelry. So there really is something to knowing yourself and your personality coming through in your accessories. At some point, there’s just some intuition that goes into choosing accessories that’s hard to teach.

      1. awww. thank you! I definitely had to learn it to wear it all right. That dress in the picture? That was totally Melissa’s doing. I NEVER would have bought it without her encouraging me at the sale. Now that I have it I wouldn’t trade it. LOVE wearing the bold color and pattern.

  5. I love necklaces and I always want to wear one, but I have issues with how they feel on my neck. Weird b/c I wear scarves all fall and winter… I think it has to do with the weight of them. If I were to wear one, it would be the long ones b/c I would feel less restricted by them. You do a great job explaining and illustrating! (BTW, I LOVE, LOVE this font!)

    1. THANKS! I’m in love with this font too. 🙂

      I agree with the weight issue. I think that’s why I like lighter necklaces.

  6. Awwww {sniffle} yes indeed I am your biggest fashion fan! 😀

    I wondered why I only had one long necklace…now I know…dem girls. I have a hard time knowing trendy from classic with jewelry so I tend to buy cheap-ish jewelry (my most expensive necklace is under $70 the rest are all in the $20 range). The only problem with that is I don’t find anything real unique or colorful that has any class, so I tend to stick to silver, silver and some more silver. And I only wear necklaces (earrings hurt mah head) and necklaces drive me crazy – I bonk them on everything. To say I’m limited is an understatement.

    So, how do you know when to spend substantial money (more than $40) on a necklace and be assured it’ll be in fashion for at least a couple of years?

    1. I don’t. I have yet to develop the knack for knowing when something I buy will be a go-to piece for years to come or when it will sit in my jewelry box mocking me. It is usually the pieces that I pick on a whim that I think I’ll never wear that I end up wearing all the time. It’s a crap shoot, really! 🙂

  7. I think the key to wearing long necklaces is to start simple. Necklaces that are so busy can call too much attention to the bust. I would argue that people are looking at the necklace, not your chest, but it’s important that you feel comfortable with it so start slow. Long necklaces are one of the best styling tricks to help elongate the whole body especially the torso. It can visually help balance a larger chest. I can put on a shorter necklacke that fills up the neck area and feel short and “busty” and change it up with a long necklace and get completely a different look. Long necklaces are my “go to” pieces.

  8. You have a really cute necklace collection. I think I just need to discipline myself to wear what I have more, it’s too easy to run out the door without thinking about one’s jewelry.

  9. Awesome tips. I used to not be a jewelry wearer at all, except for my wedding ring and my simple diamond studs (that were my grandmother’s). Then, in the last few years, I have really built up my fun necklace collection and I always get compliments on them. So, I am not sure why I was so “afraid” of them before! Have a great weekend.

  10. Thanks for this. I like to wear necklaces with anything even close to low-cut, just because it makes me less self-conscious. I haven’t tried layering yet, I think I just haven’t had the right pieces. I’m still waiting for the post about coordinating necklaces and earrings without being too matchy-matchy.

  11. Such a fun post! I love how we all made it in there! Feel honored. This should be the official Fashion Friday Meme post. Just add pics of Sarah and Kelly.

    You know how much I love accessorizing. I think your tips are perfect.

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