Reader Mail: How to Wear Long Necklaces

36" Cluster Drop Necklace
Today’s reader mail has to do with long necklaces…

What are the rules of thumb for long necklaces?  I love the look, but I only have a couple and wear them all too rarely because I’m never sure that the necklace “fits” the outfit.  I remember a number of “we would wear this with” suggestions (I love those, by the way – they’re often my favorite part of the TPS reports), but I did a search on the site and couldn’t find much beyond that.  You’ve suggested long necklaces with boatnecks, and I generally think turtlenecks would work too, but are there any other general guidelines you can think of?

We love long necklaces, but agree that the outfit has to be right, as does the length of the necklace for your body type. For example, a necklace that’s in the 30″ range is going to hit you right at your bust — which if you’re busty is just going to look weird. Our preference is generally for what they call “opera length” necklaces — 36″ or so.  This length gives you a bunch of options for how to wear it.  For example, wear it long and loose when you’re wearing things like a shift dress with a blazer — the length of the necklace will compliment the length of the blazer and add visual interest.  Another option is to wear it long, but knot it at the bottom to give it more of a pendant/V-shape to the look — we like to wear it this way when we’re wearing it with a boatneck or turtleneck.  A great option if you’re wearing a crewneck or a boatneck is such as to double the necklace, wearing the first “loop” of it close to your neck (not quite a choker, but above the crew neck) and the other loop down your chest.  Finally, you can double the necklace and wear the loops evenly across your chest — this looks nice with turtlenecks and scoopnecks.

In general, we would advise against wearing long necklaces with a v-neck — in general this kind of necklace will lower the eye, not raise it, which is generally what’s needed with v-necks.  Readers, anything to add? (Also:  have you seen any long noteworthy necklaces lately?)

Pictured above: 36″ Cluster Drop Necklace, available at Brooks Brothers on sale for $49.60 (was $248).

Check out some more 36″ necklaces, below…


  1. See, my concern with a 36″ necklace on a busty woman (ie, myself) is that it can sort of hang off the bust “shelf” like Tom Cruise at the beginning of one of the Mission Impossible movies, which I don’t think is a great look. lol.

  2. I’m only a B-cup and I feel that long necklaces always dangle too much for me. I have a few, and I have never worn them to work — I’ll put them on from time to time in the morning, only to take them right back off after looking in the mirror. Help!

  3. T – I agree! Or encircle one of them …

  4. I LOVE wearing long necklaces to work because it can make a boring outfit interesting. The two main ways I wear long necklaces are with a plain shift dress or with a turtleneck.

  5. ugh I struggle with jewelry all the time, so work-appropriate jewelry is especially tough for me. I generally just wear earrings, but may try one of these long necklaces to pull things together…

  6. I find long necklaces get caught between chest and desk, too.
    Some necklaces just seem to stay put against the chest and some don’t, and I just have to try them on to find out which is which–I think it’s chain-types in general that behave better. I also hate it when they drift asymmetrically over one breast.
    I have seen lovely layered looks over vee-necks and with collared shirts–both in and outside of the collar, but I wonder if that isn’t too much bling for the office. I love the “loads of pearls a la Chanel” look, but wouldn’t wear it to work. A party, yes.

  7. Corpcounsel :

    I don’t know about knotting a necklace…that seems too 80’s for me.

  8. I am size-B as well, but I love wearing long dainty necklace. I love small and simple pattern, but interesting/unique enough to add character to my outfit. I stick with chain types with small loops, silver/gold chains, and maybe with a little stones. I usually get them either at the Limited or Banana Republic. I prefer them actually over big bold loads of jewelry.

  9. I wear long necklaces with everything! I am short, curvy, and have a big chest. That said, I cherish the illusion that long necklaces lenghten my frame via some optical illusion, lol. I do think wearing chokers makes my face look rounder so I love longer necklaces. I wear them with plain white blouses, sweater sets (crew neck, square neck, or v-neck), or with sheath dresses. Of course I also wear shorter necklaces and chains but I am embracing the long necklace’s time in the sun, lol. I’d never tie them but that’s me. I have looped them into two equal medium-length strands; I’ve never worn them in the choker/one long loop style– too flapper for me. I get them at BR, BR Outlet, Ann Taylor, Macy’s, Nordstrom, and Talbot’s, or smaller boutiques. I gave up on ATL because the necklaces broke or tarnished too quickly.

  10. Forgot to say, I get my ideas on how to wear long necklaces in large part from Addison on Private Practice. Yes, her outfits are sometimes too “out there” for me to wear, but a lot of her outfits or accessories are adaptable or at least inspirational/educational, lol.

  11. I’ve been eying long necklaces lovingly lately, but my 36F and I fear to wear them — like T says, I think it’ll just look weird. Any thoughts on necklaces for the curvy among us?

  12. CrimLawGirle :

    I have B-cups, but broader shoulders, so there’s some space between my breasts, not typical cleavage. When I wear long necklaces, both strands tend to migrate to the center, between breasts. I’m not sure what to do about that. (And it’s frustrating!)

  13. I have a couple necklace. I dont buy them usually becuase I dont know what to wear it with. The ones I do have are gifts. V necks sounds like a good suggestion – will try!

  14. One warning regarding long necklaces: Beware bending in your chair to pick something up off the floor or to reach into a low drawer and getting the necklace caught on the arm of your chair. When you straighten up, watch out! Beads flying everywhere! (Guess how I learned that one?)

    After that experience, I tend to double-strand opera-length necklaces or wear shorter ones that end just above the bust/cleavage line.

  15. ChristineB :

    I love wearing long necklaces. I’m a B/C cup and don’t have much trouble with the necklace slipping out of place. Sometimes I wear them long. Sometimes I double them so they are the same length, and sometimes I double them so one is much shorter than the other.

  16. Long necklaces work best on the less busty. Ideal points for wearing your necklace are at your balance points

  17. Andromeda :

    Imogen, thanks so much! Your blog is fascinating and I’ve added it to my RSS. I notice that the one necklace I find myself wanting to wear all the time these days is the one that follows all of your rules…hmmm…coincidence? Obviously I need more things along those lines!

  18. I like to wear opera length pearls (36″) with a gold chain of the same length and scale. With the right jacket, the look is elongating and very polished. Less cluttered than the Chanel, but it adds a touch of elegance to a skirt or pants suit. The trio is also a nice way to dress up a twinset worn with slacks for more casual meetings.