A Necklace Length and Style Guide

 

Terms like matiné, bib, and choker are often used in the jewelry industry when referencing necklace lengths. If you’re like me, however, it takes a good visual reference to see how long a necklace is and get my brain to connect it to where it’s going to lay on my body. That’s what lead me to create this guide. 

Just remember, that even though these measurements are industry standard, not everybody is created the same. Depending on the build, weight, and stature, different lengths, and styles will lay differently and fit differently.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at the most popular necklace lengths, their names an a brief description of each. Then we’ll review some tips for choosing what length of necklace you need as well as what style will best suit you.

  1. CHOKER: One of the more common necklaces is a “choker.” A choker will typically vary from 14 – 16 inches. These are made to sit high and close to the neck and can make those who suffer from claustrophobia feel as if they are choking, hence the name.
  2. THE PRINCESS: A necklace called a “Princess necklace” is 16 to 18 inches long. This usually lays between the lower neck and bust line.
  3. THE MATINÉ: A “matiné” strand is 20 to 24 inches long and sits at the bust line however, for bustier women, it will sit a bit higher or may slide down into a lower necked blouse or top. This is about twice the length of a choker.
  4. THE OPERA: An “opera” necklace is about 28 to 32 inches long. This rests around the bottom of a woman’s ribcage. Some people may use this length to wrap around twice, making it look like a double choker style necklace.
  5. THE ROPE: Anything longer than 32 inches is a “rope” necklace. Many people will take pearl strands of this length and create a larger look with this one strand.
  6. THE MULTI-STRAND: Another common necklace is a multi-strand necklace in which the strands twist around each other. These necklaces will come in different lengths.
  7. DOG COLLAR: Another type of choker is the “dog collar.” This is a multi-strand 16 to 18-inch necklace.
  8. THE BIB: A “bib” necklace has three or more concentric strands. The lowest hanging strand generally does not exceed matiné length (20 to 24 inches). The highest is typically at choker length.

HOW TO MEASURE FOR A NECKLACE, CHAIN OR PENDANT

The easiest way to get a good measurement is to use a piece that you already own which is similar or exactly the size or length you’re looking for. A tape measure or ruler will work for that.

If you don’t have an existing necklace to measure from, you can use some string, ribbon, or a soft measuring tape to figure out what will work for you.

This will be easier to do if you’re standing in front of a mirror. Put the string or ribbon around your head, from being, with each loose end coming over each shoulder. Bring the ends together and adjust until the string lays exactly where you want the necklace or pendant to sit. Mark your thread and then cut and measure. You might need a safety pin or another person to hold the ends together to help you to get a better idea of how different lengths will sit on you.

Why not play a little dress-up while you’re at it? You can check different necklace lengths to see what will work well with each outfit and work out what you’re lacking in your jewelry collection. 

Finally, remember to keep in mind that a pendant will generally hang in a V shape rather than with a softer curve. You should also factor in the length of the pendant to see where the bottom of it will sit on you.

WHICH NECKLACE LENGTH WILL MATCH YOUR NECKLINE?

Knowing which necklace and chain sizes will suit both you and the outfits you’ll wear it with, what the occasion is and how certain tones look with your colouring is a great way to up your jewellery game. the trick to upscaling costume jewelry isn’t only in the quality of the piece – it’s just as much the styling of the wearer. Check out our handy style table below to get an idea of which lengths will work best in which situations. Don’t forget that there’s nothing like getting in front of a mirror.

Necklace or chain length: Standard
placement:
Pairs Well With:
Choker Close against the base of the neck This length looks great with a wide variety of clothing, depending on the style and materials of the piece. Chokers work especially well with off the shoulder, crew and boat necklines. If you have a larger frame or you don’t like tighter necklaces, this isn’t the length for you – also for those of us that are of a certain age, remember that this style necklace will enhance any problems in the chin, jaw and neck area.
Standard
(or Princess)
On the collarbone This is the “oval face” of the jewelry work, meaning it’s the most popular because it looks so good with so many different styles and women. It looks flattering on most women and works well with most outfits call for a necklace. If the necklace has a pendant that forms a V-type shape then it’s likely to look great with a v-neck, surplice, or sweetheart neckline.
Matinee Between the collarbone and the bust This is another length that looks good with a wide array of outfits and figures. It works great for either business or casual dress and depending on the materials would look stunning in the evening as well. If you are tall or have a larger neck try this length as your go-to size rather than the standard (princess) length.
Opera On the bust or several centimeters below Opera works really well for most high necklines – including turtle necks and boat necks. It’s also an elegant choice for evening wear. Depending on the length and your build you may also be able to wear an opera length wrapped around your neck more than once to form a double-stranded collar or choker.
Rope Varies depending on how it’s worn A rope is any necklace that is longer than opera size. Rope necklaces are generally meant to be wrapped around your neck more than once to form a double-stranded necklace. You may also be able to fold them in half, with one end looped through the fold to form a lariat.
No necklace N/A Generally speaking, if you are wearing a very low plunge neckline or a high halter neck, you may find that you’re best off wearing larger statement earrings and rings rather than a necklace.

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