Which Necklace Length Suits You?

Would you ever put a choker or a rope around your neck? Or go out for the night with a princess sitting on your shoulders? Sounds a bit extreme doesn't it! Don't worry, all these expressions are industry standard terms for different lengths of necklaces.

When you see a necklace advertised for sale you're most likely to see the length stated in centimetres or inches, but there's a name for each style too.

collar ~ 30-34cm (12-13 inches)

The collar is worn high around the neck across the throat, and has been a popular necklace length for centuries. In Victorian times collars of several strands of pearls were very fashionable, and during the French revolution many aristocratic women wore collars of red ribbon to honour friends who'd met a grisly end at the guillotine!

Nowadays you can get collars in many styles and materials; fabric, ribbon, lace, plastic tattoo, rhinestone, pearl etc., and all work well with open-neck and off-the-shoulder outfits, and all suit any face shape too!

choker ~ 36-40cm (14-16 inches)

Possibly the most versatile necklace length, a choker sits on the collarbone around base of the neck with any pendant it might have sitting in the hollow of the throat. Chokers work well with absolutely any outfit and suit any occasion, from everyday office wear to nights out, dinners and weddings. Chokers are beautiful on long necks but tend to accentuate short or wide necks. Often thought of as a 'nineties thing', chokers have cycled in and out of fashion for thousands of years. They were popular in the late 18th and early 19th centuries to hide blemishes of the neck such as thyroid goitres and scars, but they also drew they eye to the elegance of a classic swan neck and were a fashion statement of power amongst women in the 1940s and 1950s. Image: Jacqueline Bouvier wore a choker length pearl necklace that was a family heirloom on her marriage to John F. Kennedy in 1953. (Image in the public domain).

princess ~ 43-48cm (17-19 inch)

The princess length necklace is considered the classic length for a single strand of pearls, and it works well with many different necklines. At 17-19 inches long, the princess length necklace sits just below the collarbone and looks great under a blouse for business attire, over a turtle neck for a casual look, and with a cocktail dress for glamorous evening wear. The princess length necklace can be simple and understated for classic elegance, and also eye-poppingly 'wow!' for a showing off a stunning pendant.

Image: This simple single strand pearl necklace and stud earring set has sophistication and glamour without being too showy.

matinee ~ 50-71cm (20-28 inches)

The matinee length necklace sits anywhere from the top to the centre of the bust. It's a great length to wear with plunging necklines that highlight the décolletage as the eye is often drawn to the lower part of the necklace. It's also a perfect length for ladies with larger necks for whom a princess length necklace might feel too tight. The 'matinee' time of day, technically being the afternoon performance of a show or play, is semi-formal so a matinee length necklace is perfect for a soiree or afternoon tea. This length also suits casual or business attire in chunky styles that sit over the top of your clothes, but take care to consider how the colours and textures will match.

Image: This bride has chosen a matinee length necklace and pendant with a delicate chain to flatter the neckline of her dress.

opera ~ 76-92cm (30-36 inches)

Opera length necklaces fall to just below the bust and can be worn as a single strand or doubled over to make a shorter necklace. They're the classic length for a formal night at the theatre (or opera!) being worn over the dress, and also make great statement pieces as in this image of a lady wearing an opera length casual fashion necklace. Opera necklaces lengthen the torso so they're perfect for adding the illusion of height for shorter people, and they work well with both evening gowns and high neck sweaters.

rope ~ 100+ cm (40+ inches)

The rope necklace is any length of necklace that extends past the naval. Depending on their overall length they can be worn as a single strand, knotted for decoration, lassoed around the neck lariat style or looped to form layers as a multi-strand necklace or chunky bracelet. They were very popular in the 1920s when flapper dancers would wear several long rope necklaces and swing them around in time to their dancing. You can see the style in action in movies like The Great Gatsby where the Art Deco jewellery of the time is simply gorgeous! Rope necklaces are dramatic, flamboyant and fun - perfect for a high impact visual "WOW!" when you want your outfit to make a statement.

Image: This bride looks elegant and confident in a knotted pearl rope necklace.

mix it up!

Why stick to just one necklace when you can layer it up! Wearing several necklaces of different lengths can look stunning. A choker with a rope, a matinee with an opera, or like our diagram above go ultra glam and put them ALL together!

Next week: "Glossary of Jewellery Terms Part Two, F~Z"

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