Every woman has her go-to jewelry, and every woman has her list of classic jewelry that she can rely on to pull her through.
But what if your favorite necklace could pull you through any situation?
That's the beauty of adjustable necklace chains. Here, we're breaking down what they are, how it works, and what necklace lengths you should be wearing.
An adjustable necklace is a pretty simple concept.
Instead of a necklace staying around the same length, adjustable chains let you go from a collar to a matinee length all on the same chain.
But for such a simple concept, it's actually pretty revolutionary.
Think about it. Instead of buying four necklaces to go with a variety of outfit options, you can have one classic necklace that works overtime.
It seems small, but when you do the math, that's a big economic change.
Let's say your average good-quality work necklace costs somewhere between $60-$90. If you have to buy four necklaces, you're spending between $240-$360 on necklaces alone.
If, on the other hand, you bought one adjustable necklace chain, you're only spending the initial $60-$90. Even for a $90 necklace, that's still less than half the price you'd pay for four nonadjustable necklaces.
Even if you buy your necklaces for $10 or $20 at H&M, $10 once is still cheaper than $40.
Now, keep in mind that this won't work for all necklaces. A statement necklace is a statement necklace, regardless of how long the chain is. Adjustable necklaces work best when you stick with simple, classic jewelry that can transition well between a variety of situations.
The devil's in the details... or the diamonds.
It might seem small on the face of it, but any woman who's tried on four necklaces to find one at the right length will tell you: not all necklaces are created equal. A choker has a very different impact than an opera necklace.
With this in mind, let's talk about the various necklace lengths that you're most likely to encounter. This will give you an idea of what lengths you should be aiming for, depending on the neckline and the effect you want.
First, to be clear: a collar and a choker are two different things.
A choker necklace is a type of necklace usually around 16 inches and either sits high on the neck or just above the collarbone. It saw a resurgence with the 90s Goth-Lite kids, but it's been around since Anne Boleyn's famous B necklace.
A collar, on the other hand, is usually around 14 inches and sits flush with the skin just above the collarbone (thus the title). Many modern collars are thick, like the collar of a shirt.
What girl doesn't want to be a princess? Okay, some princesses would rather be a Khaleesi, but still. Every Khaleesi needs great jewelry to look like the queen she is.
The standard or princess length is the most common--most necklaces you encounter in stores or online are available at this length. It's usually around 45 centimeters or 18 inches.
This necklace is a good go-to length, since it sits above the collar of low-cut clothing but high enough to work well with high-necked items.
The matinee necklace is a perfect go-between length.
Between 20 to 24 inches long, matinee necklaces transition well from a more formal office setting to drinks after work.
It sits below the collarbone just above the bust. Because of this, it works well to accentuate cleavage, as it draws the eyes to the chest.
Then, there's the opera necklace, calling to mind glass-shattering sopranos and floor-length dresses.
Opera necklaces are usually around 28 to 34 inches. At this length, they can either be worn long to hang below the breast area or double up to serve as a choker.
As the name implies, this is a good choice for formal wear. Just make sure you wear a good bra because it's going to accentuate your chest.
Finally, there are rope or lariat necklaces, the longest of the bunch.
Ropes and lariats ring in at over 45 inches. Because of this, they direct the eye to sweep down the torso.
They can be doubled to act as a princess or tripled to act as a collar. Lariats don't have attachments at the end, which leaves you free to tie them in various knots (think women with long pearls who tie knots in the end).
The situations you can wear them in depends on how long you wear the necklace and the style of the necklace itself. Long beads are good for a laid-back, bohemian look, but long pearls can work for a formal (if slightly relaxed) occasion.
Now that you know about the various lengths of necklaces, let's talk about the necklines various necklines you're dealing with.
Necklines are a huge determining factor in deciding what necklace you can wear. As anyone who has ever tried to pair a choker with a turtleneck will tell you, not every combination is destined to succeed.
With that in mind, let's talk about some of the common necklines and what necklaces you can wear with each.
Strapless dresses have a certain drama that you just can't find anywhere else.
They also accentuate two key features: your neck and collarbone.
As such, you want jewelry that won't detract from that area while enhancing the drama of your dress. The dress puts the attention on your neck and collarbone--you want a necklace that keeps the focal point exactly where it belongs.
Collars and chokers are both good options here since they frame your face and put the focus on your neck and collarbone. Some celebrities wear long pendant necklaces with strapless dresses; that can work, but it depends on the vibe you're going for.
The off-the-shoulder style brings the drama up a notch. More than strapless dresses, off-the-shoulder dresses are designed to call attention to your shoulders.
That said, there's a lot of bare skin, so you need to choose your jewelry with care.
In general, shorter necklaces are your friend here. You want the attention focused upwards so your necklace isn't working against your dress. As such, collars and chokers are your best bet--but keep it minimal and let your shoulders steal the show.
The v-neck puts attention on a very specific area: your bust. You want jewelry that will accentuate the same area.
Princess necklaces will work nicely here because they form a V shape that complements your neckline, which helps further the effect. Pendants, in particular, are a good choice. Remember: the wider the V, the bigger the pendant.
We did say earlier that longer necklaces can accentuate your bust. However, longer necklaces should be avoided with v-necks because it can actually take attention too far down.
You should always avoid mid-length or rounded necklaces with this neckline. The V is angular, and if your necklace doesn't complement this, you'll end up looking mismatched.
Halters can be a lot of fun because they have the bust-enhancing effect of a v-neck but the angles also draw out your shoulders.
In short, there's a lot going on in a halter. For this reason, some women argue that you shouldn't wear necklaces at all with a halter since it overemphasizes the effect.
If you're not in that camp, then treat a halter the same way you would treat a v-neck. Go for shorter pendants that end at an angle.
If you want to draw attention away from your chest, you can wear a choker. But stay away from collars (they look awkward) and long necklaces (they draw attention towards your stomach).
If you caught onto the rules of v-necks, then you can probably guess the rules of square necklines.
With a square, as with v-necks, you're dealing with a question of angles. You want a necklace that's going to play off the angles of a square neckline.
As a rule, the length of your necklace depends on where your neckline ends. A necklace that ends past your neckline will make you look mismatched. Princess necklaces, chokers, and collars are all good choices. You can even go for a short layered necklace.
However, you should stick to angular pendants or delicate layers, though a short (emphasis on short) and chunky necklace can provide a nice contrast.
Sweetheart necklines call to mind romance, like in old movies. Think of them like a curvy variation on strapless dresses--they emphasize your neck, shoulders, and cleavage.
Because of this, sweetheart necklines give you a great chance to make a statement. You can take that literally with a statement necklace--go all in and let it grab the attention.
Alternately, you can stick with something a little subtler, like a simple princess or collar. Chokers are generally forgiving, but it depends on the sweetheart in question.
As with square necklines, you should avoid necklaces that fall below the neckline. And though sweetheart necklines give you a chance to make a splash, don't go overboard. Pick the accessories you need to make a statement and let them speak for you.
Scoop necklines work a lot like square necklines--they're open and give you a lot of space to show off.
The difference is that unlike a square neckline, you can get away with a rounded necklace.
That said, there's a popular rumor that you can wear necklaces of any length with a scoop neck, which isn't strictly true. Remember, the rules of a square neck apply--a necklace that's too long will leave you looking mismatched.
Go for a necklace that will fill the space your neckline creates. A big pendant is a good choice, as is a simple pearl necklace. As always, chokers, collars, and princess necklaces are highly forgiving.
Ah, the turtleneck. The bane of your existence when you're trying to find a necklace, and savior of body temperature in cold weather.
Here's the thing: it doesn't have to be.
Turtlenecks rule out one big group: necklaces that are too close to your neck, since there's already enough going on with your collar. This rules out chokers, collars, princess necklaces, and other close-fitting necklaces.
Instead, go for mid-length to long necklaces, since they help balance everything going on at your neckline. Opera necklaces are an especially good choice here.
If anything, collared shirts are almost trickier than a turtleneck.
They're not automatically closed the way a turtleneck is, which means you have a bit more room to play with. On the other hand, you don't have that much room to play with at all.
If your neck is long, you can get away with a choker. Most women are well-served by a princess necklace or collar that sits just above the last open button.
At this point, you're probably thinking that an asymmetrical neckline throws off every rule we just gave you.
It doesn't necessarily; you just have to choose a necklace that balances the asymmetry. You can get away with most lengths, as long as the necklace is proportionate to the neckline. Any further asymmetry in the necklace will make your neckline look even more asymmetrical.
As a rule, you're safe with chokers and collars here. They're straight lines, which means they work well to balance your neckline.
Now that you know how to rock your adjustable necklace, it's time to select yours!
Remember that you're best served by a simple, versatile necklace. This will make it more compatible with multiple outfits, regardless of the style or neckline.
If you're ready to start looking, take a look at our selection of adjustable chains.