How to Layer Necklaces Like a Pro

A Maximal layering of necklaces

I’m so happy to have had “Bustform Betty” come into my life that I just had to take some pictures of her right away! Actually, I’ve had her about a week and haven’t found a home for her except for my desk. My husband gets freaked out every time he walks in thinking someone is there, lol!

Anyway, I know y’all want to know more about accessorizing, so today I’m sharing how to layer necklaces. I am not super huge on rules, as I think it can completely stifle creativity, so the only real guidelines I’d say to follow are:

  • Start with your most delicate necklace near your face. (It’ll probably get lost down lower.)
  • For the most part, have a little space between the necklaces. However, you’ll see in my examples how to break this one if needed.

As a busy personal stylist here in Denver, I’m usually running out the door in the morning and don’t have a lot of time for experimenting then, so I recommend playing with layering when you’re creating outfits or playing with your necklaces when you get home while you’re still dressed, so you have a new combo the next time you wear your outfit.

I encourage you to really dig into your jewelry box, and take some risks. I have several ideas from my own jewelry collection to serve as inspiration. If you have similar necklaces, by all means, feel free to copy-cat!

The first example at the top of the page is very maximal (vs. minimal). As you’ll see in other examples, you definitely don’t have to go this crazy. Here I started with my small gold initial necklace. Then I added the “cameo.” It’s actually an antique necklace from my grandma and it’s just an acrylic etched rose pendant, but it’s one of my most sentimental pieces. The gold is a little different, because it’s older, but I feel like it’s okay.

The next necklace I added was the REALLY OLD chain with pearls and crystals. Those 3 alone were pretty enough, but the combo felt a little too pretty for me–I like a bit of edge. So I added my fresh water, cultured pearls–my favorite! It’s a really long necklace, and there was too much space between the necklaces, so I doubled it with the first strand subbing in as a choker and all was good.

In the picture above, I’m featuring the bold chain with the large pearl that one of my besties gave me for my birthday. Truth be told I usually wear it on it’s own, but adding the demure opera length (faux) pearls is an option. I’m always up for juxtaposing moods in an outfit.

Next, I’ve taken the same bold necklace and added my delicate D and a super long strand of knotted pearls. (The knotted pearls are a thrift store find and are actually broken, so knotted is the only way to keep them on.) The knotted pearls give a fun mix of flapper girl; bold boss; and delicate “D”. I love how these 3 necklaces create a long narrow line down the middle of the body-super slimming!

Here’s another 2 necklace combo that breaks the conventional rule that there should be space between the necklaces. Layering the pearls and the bold chain creates a fun juxtaposition, but it can also look like one necklace.

Perhaps you’re thinking at this point, this is great, but I don’t really like pearls. Not to worry! You can sub in other beads instead of pearls. In the example below, the 3 strand aubergine beads (yes, I know they look black, but trust me, it’s purple) make up one necklace. To be honest, I usually wear it by it’s self, since it’s pretty darn substantial. But I thought after showing so many somewhat light, airy and ladylike looks, I’d try something extra bold!

While the eggplant beads stand alone, neither of the other two necklaces play well by themselves. The short, “Tahitian” pearls feel a little outdated on their own. I mean, they’re really short!

The multi-colored beads are really pretty (my hubby bought them for me!) But they don’t feel right on their own either for my personal style. Typically you’ll have your longest necklace be the most dominant, but since the colors work so well together, it works. And in all the years I’ve worked in fashion, I’ve never actually encountered the “fashion police.” So I say, don’t worry about breaking any style laws!

Last but not least, as I’m typing, I can hear you asking “What necklines do I wear these combos with?” Again, contrary to what you might find on the internet if you research it, there’s not a hard fast rule on it. All of these necklace combos would work well with a high neck dress or top.

You can also wear a lower necked bodice, making sure the shortest necklace doesn’t fall into the neckline of your garment. And you could potentially wear the shortest necklace inside the neckline of a collared blouse and add the chains and beads to the outside of the collar.

I hope I’ve answered all of your necklace layering questions. Feel free to ask away in the comment section below if I can help with anything you come up with.

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