Options seem endless when choosing a necklace type. We’ve all been there in front of the mirror wondering which necklace type looks best and how to be certain we’ve selected the right style. Too often choosing a necklace becomes an afterthought when it has so much potential to add character and definition to your look. Whether you’re shopping for a necklace to match an outfit or looking for ways to wear a necklace that doesn’t seem to match anything, our guide to necklace types will help you find a design that looks best on you and offer tips to help you style it.
6 Types of Necklaces
- Choker Necklace
- Collar Necklace
- Princess Necklace
- Matinee and Rope Necklace
- Lariat Necklace
- Riviere Necklace
Necklaces are categorized according to necklace length and style. From shortest to longest, necklace types include choker, collar, princess, matinee, and rope. Each of these necklace types comes in many different designs. To know which type is best for you, think about the look you want to achieve, the length of your body type and decolletage, and the luster you want to emanate.
- Look: What is your personal style and what particular outfit do you plan to wear? Your necklace can help create dimension or transform your outfit from basic to chic. Also, consider your face shape and figure. Long necklaces don’t usually look best on a short torso. But if you have a shorter torso and a favorite long necklace, you can make it work by wrapping it to take in the length. If you’re tall and slender, you may not like how a choker interrupts the line of your figure. Adding another longer layer with your choker might help the eye follow more smoothly.
- Length: Where do you want your necklace to fall? Wherever it falls creates a focal point. If you don’t want to draw attention to a certain section of your body, then make sure your necklace does not fall there. Your height also determines how long your necklace should be. If you are shorter, for example, then a long rope necklace may extend below the torso, so you may want to wrap it once or twice. If a necklace appears too long or short, you can layer it to add additional lines.
- Luster: How much attention do you want your necklace to grab? Do you want it to steal the show or accentuate another piece? With the simple swap of a necklace, you can change your outfit from subtle to striking or from daring to dainty and then back again whenever the occasion calls.
1. Choker necklaces
Average length: 14 inches
The choker necklace has a rich history, full of symbolism. It’s been painted on Degas’ ballerinas for delicacy and worn for power and protection by ancient pharaohs. The red ribbon choker symbolized scorn for beheadings during the French Revolution but was also worn by Victorian royalty for elegance. Choker necklaces have made a comeback nearly every decade of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, so it’s safe to say the choker is here to stay.
Types of chokers
A simple snake chain makes a basic but beautiful choker. Some chokers are flat to the neck, while others stand out with gemstones, beads, or metal that adds thickness. They can also include a pendant for a little extra length.
How to wear a choker
- Don’t be afraid to stack them. If you want to accent your neck, multi-layered chokers will do the trick. You can layer similar simple chains or a simple chain with a more extravagant beaded or gemstone choker.
- Chokers look best on long necks. But if it isn’t true of you, you can still wear a choker–just make sure to choose a thin and simple one.
- Chokers look effortless but don’t have to. It’s easy to imagine a choker giving punk or beachy vibes, but chokers extend beyond this stereotype. Remember, they’ve added elegance and refinement to the wardrobes of royals.
2. Collar necklaces
Average length: 16 inches
Collar necklaces are more delicate and softer than chokers, but that doesn’t mean they make less of a statement. If you’re looking for a short necklace but not quite as tight as a choker, a collar necklace can give you just the bit of extra breathing room you need. They drape right at the collarbone, so they still draw the eye up toward the face without the added squeeze of a choker.
Types of collar necklaces
Collarbone necklaces may be simple or extravagant. Many collar necklaces include fringe or hanging ornamentation to resemble a blouse collar. Fringe and Riviere necklaces are two types of collars that leave an impression. A Riviere necklace is a collar of gems that may be one color or multi-colored.
How to wear collar necklaces
- Substitute a traditional collar under a sweater with a collar necklace or accent a shirt or dress collar with one. Collars add class–the same is true for necklaces as well as clothing. Collar necklaces make a great accent to a round neckline any time, or they can add extra pizzazz to a collar for a professional look.
- Wear a collar full of gemstones if you’re someone who can never have too much sparkle. You can also stack your collar necklaces for extra bling and color.
- Wear an off-the-shoulder shirt with a collar necklace to heighten the drama.
3. Princess style necklace
Average length: 18 inches
The princess style necklace is the little black dress of jewelry. It’s perfect for any occasion but far from basic. This is the most common type of necklace for women because it looks beautiful on everyone, and the length suits any outfit. When you think of a princess necklace, you may think of extravagant bling, but the princess style can be subtle. In fact, owning a simple princess necklace is like investing in a good pair of jeans–you won’t regret it and may find it’s the most frequently worn item in your closet.
Types of princess length necklaces
Princess style necklaces with simple pendants are some of the most versatile necklaces. You can’t go wrong no matter what you match them with. Bib necklaces are a type of princess style that you only wear on occasion. They’re attention grabbers and work best when enhancing a plain outfit.
How to wear a princess style necklace
- If you want to show off your princess necklace, wear an open neckline. The princess length usually falls right before the dip in a v-neck.
- Wear it with a low or high neckline because either one works. The princess style drapes at the sweet spot that complements any neckline.
- Make a bib necklace professional. Sometimes workwear verges on boring, and a bib can add variety. Most people think bib necklaces are too busy for the office, but you can make them professional by wearing them with a blazer or under a collared shirt.
4. Matinee & Rope Necklaces
Matinee average length: 20-24 inches
Rope average length: 36+ inches
Both matinee and rope necklaces are long and come in similar styles, many of the same styling rules apply to both types. These long necklaces exhibit effortless elegance. They are best for formal or semi-formal occasions unless wrapped around the neck to adjust the length.
Types of rope necklaces
Rope necklaces don’t need a clasp but may have one. Either way, you might never unfasten it because these necklaces slip right over the head. If your rope necklace has a clasp, you can unfasten it to create a different style. Lariat necklaces wrap once or twice around the neck and have two ends that remain open on the torso. Bolo necklaces also remain open on the ends but have a pendant that holds the two chains together closer to the center.
How to wear rope necklaces
- Wear it knotted with high necklines. To avoid a rectangular shape with a rope necklace and your halter-neck formal, you can knot it to create a focal point.
- Wrap it for multiple layers. You can get two or more different necklace styles out of one matinee or rope necklaces by adding lines.
- Wear it with a boxy blouse or dress to narrow your width.
5. Lariat necklace
Average length: 36+ inches
The lariat necklace is a unique type of rope necklace without a clasp that wraps around the neck to create different lengths and styles. It’s a one-size-fits all accessory since it’s adjustable to any body type or outfit. Long beaded or pearl lariats are best for formal or semi-formal occasions, but shortening the length can make the necklace great for casual wear.
How to wear a lariat necklace
- Create contrast by wrapping it around the neck for a choker as an extra layer or by pairing the long, vertical necklace with a horizontal-striped top.
- Add extra layers to a deep v-neck.
- Wear it backward with a dress or blouse to emphasize a cut-out back.
- Wear it as a bracelet or belt when you’re feeling adventurous or with another necklace when you can’t decide between the two.
6. Riviere necklace
Average length: 16 inches
The Riviere is a type of collar necklace made of gemstones that flow around the neck in a continuous stream. The round, oval, or cushion gems can be synchronous, different sizes, or graduating in size. The Riviere with rose-cut gems was popular in the Regency era and is a staple in the former editor of Vogue Anna Wintour’s wardrobe today.
How to wear a riviere necklace
- Wear chunky gems for a statement or dainty gems for a simple look.
- Wear more than one in different colors for the perfect pop to your ensemble.
- Wear a simple, single-color Riviere with evening wear for timeless elegance.
Parts of a necklace
Knowing the anatomy of a necklace can help you make more informed decisions about which type of necklace to buy.
- Chain: The chain of a necklace doesn’t have to show. Generally, the more visible the chain, the more simplistic the necklace. Statement necklaces are often dripping in gems or beads. Chunky chain necklaces or festoon pendant necklaces are the exceptions. The color, style, and length of the chain all influence a necklace’s style.
- Clasp: The clasp holds your necklace in place–some clasps more securely than others. The lobster claw is one of the most common clasp types because it’s secure and easy to fasten without assistance. Other options include fish hook clasps, toggle clasps, or spring clasp. A clasp isn’t essential to a necklace like a chain is. You can drape some long necklaces over your head or wrap others around your neck. Lariat necklaces remain open-ended and don’t fasten at all. We’ve created several necklaces with a designer clasp meant to be worn in the front, like our Spinel and Gold Tassel Necklace and our Oxidized Silver Plumb Sculpture Necklace.
- Ornaments: Ornaments give a necklace character. A pendant or locket necklace has a central ornament. Statement necklaces may have many ornaments, like sculptures, beads, or gems.
Types of necklace designs
Once you’ve decided on a necklace length and style, you can decide on the particulars of the design, whether you want a pendant or not, and whether you prefer a simple or statement piece.
Pendants have a lot to offer a necklace. They can lengthen, personalize, or accent a necklace. They can also provide meaning or create a focal point. The pendant style you choose should do exactly what you want for your wardrobe.
- Floral pendant: feminine
- Geometric pendant: modern
- Cluster pendant: complementary
- Birthstone pendant: meaningful and personal
- Festoon pendant: decorative
Pendant vs necklace
A pendant is a part of a necklace. A pendant must have a chain to be part of a necklace, but a necklace doesn’t need a pendant. It’s an extra feature that gives a necklace personality. Some pendants are permanent, but others can be removed and replaced for a different look. A locket is a unique type of pendant that is very personal to the wearer. Lockets are usually given by someone special or purchased to remember a loved one. Both pendants and lockets are used with any necklace type.
How to wear a pendant necklace
- Pair a solo pendant with a chunky, fluffy, or cable-knit sweater.
- Wear a long pendant with a wrap shirt since it will align with the folds of the shirt.
- Wear multiple long pendant necklaces for a current runway look.
- Keep a pendant short when wearing it with a crop top to avoid awkward lengths.
- Pair a pendant with puffed sleeves to play with the shape of the outfit.
Statement necklaces work well for the everyday maximalist or for someone who just wants to look extravagant for an evening. Here are a few tips to create an eye-catching but not overly distracting look.
How to wear a statement necklace
- Wear more than one statement necklace to stand way out from the crowd.
- Make your statement necklace the only centerpiece. If all of your jewelry (earrings, bracelets, necklaces, rings) is trying to make a statement, then none of them will.
- Wear it with a monochrome outfit for a dramatic backdrop.
- Add contrast by wearing a busy necklace with stripes or pattern or by wearing it with a casual tee.
Simple necklaces add femininity and shine to your look. They’re easy to pair and mix and match. A simple necklace isn’t limited to a plain chain; it can be beaded or have a pendant and still be delicate. It’s hard to go wrong with a simple necklace, but here are a few tips to help you look your best.
How to wear a simple necklace
- Add a dainty chain for a little sparkle.
- Keep the look clean. If you’re taking the minimalist approach, don’t distract from a simple necklace with big earrings.
- Add extra emphasis to a statement piece. Simple necklaces make layering and stacking easy.