Necklace length can be one of the most important decisions you make about your outfit. A necklace that hits at the wrong place on a shirt or on your body can ruin the look of a TKO outfit. The visual weight of your jewelry also makes a huge impact. Learning to mix "weights" of your jewelry, layering the jewelry to create "weight", and knowing when to stop creating "weight" can also make or break your look.
Collar lengths (about 14" long) are great with just about any neckline. It might be a bit much with a turtle neck or high, Edwardian-type blouse, but collar necklaces are high and tight and can be mixed with another, longer necklace length, as long as you choose the visual weights of your necklaces properly. I personally prefer to wear a collar length necklace alone, but you do you and whatever feels comfortable for you.
Choker length necklaces (around 16" long) are perfect for higher necklines and are great for layering with longer necklaces, especially in the medium to lightweight visual range. If you are a particularly bold individual, seriously, go for it with heavier necklaces. Layer those heavier suckers up. Some people love that look and don't mind the "heaviness" of wearing larger pieces of jewelry. Depending on my mood and what I'm wearing, I can leave a piece on all day or by noon, it's driving me insane and I'm ready to take it off. Clearly, I am into lighter jewelry. :D
Princess length (about 18" long) is probably the length I personally wear the most. It hits at a perfect level on the chest and goes great with a crew neck t-shirt. I make a lot of necklaces in the 18" length (although just about anything I have can be shortened or lengthened) because this is the easiest-to-wear length. A lot of Y-neck shirts also accommodate this length. V-necks tend to look odd with this length, in my opinion - either a longer necklace is needed or a shorter necklace, although I tend to opt for shorter. The V-neck line interferes visually with a longer piece.
Matinee length necklaces (around 20 - 24" long) are particularly popular right now. They go well with the boho chic hippie vibe and look fabulous with all those gorgeous shift dresses that are so popular right now. I am a HUGE maxi dress fan, and I love love love a longer necklace with a maxi dress. The matinee length is perfect for this. Matinee obviously also does VERY well when you are layering your jewelry - I love a heavier matinee length necklace with a lighter Princess and / or a choker length, if you're really going wild. I've got a toddler right now, so two necklaces is usually all I can handle without getting tangled up.
Opera length (30" long) is a very versatile length - wear it long with a high collar dress or double it up, knot it (gently) in the middle, or go nuts and wear it backwards with a backless dress or shirt. Opera lengths are traditionally worn with evening clothes and were a way for wealthy women (and men) to show off a bit (or a lot) at the opera. Since I'm clumsy and tend to trip over my own feet, wearing really long jewelry is not natural to me. Plus, you know, toddler.
Rope length (33" long) is some super serious statement stuff. Necklaces like this can be made with multiple clasps so the pieces can be worn different ways (bracelets, shorter necklaces, etc) or worn all connected as one big piece. I love seeing other women wear great long necklaces with their gorgeous bohemian style outfits. Younger women in particular seem to have really embraced this style. I think this style can be wear with a lower cut top, as long the proportions between the necklace and the neckline work.
And really - that is what it's all about. Proportion. If you put on a necklace and it does not feel or look right, it isn't. If it doesn't feel right, you will not feel as confident wearing the outfit, and the confidence we project can also make or break the outfit. If it does not look right, it can make other people look at you differently. Humans are inherently hardwired to notice proportions, and if proportions are wrong, the thing they are looking at is automatically less attractive.
Experiment with your clothes and jewelry, see what works for you, and remember - there are always exceptions to the "rules". Keep these guidelines in mind, though, and you will find they will work for you in almost every instance.
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