Necklace length and style

Necklaces are versatile and wearable. They don’t get in the way like bracelets and bangles do, they don’t have to be taken off when you wash your hands like rings do and we're all still washing our hands in the twice-happy-birthday prescribed length of time these days, aren't we? And if you’re allergic to earrings like some people are, necklaces will be your go-to jewelry.


The classic lengths of necklaces are collar 13”-15”, choker 15”-17”, princess 17”- 19”, matinée 20”-24”, opera 28”-37” and rope 37”-60”.

Necklace lengths

I never get that they call the tightest necklace collar and the next size a choker, because in my (not so) humble opinion the tightest necklace would feel a little bit choking but never mind. I’m not making the rules here, I’m merely quoting them. I found THIS a very useful resource when researching this topic.

Which length looks good depends on at least two things:

Your body and your clothes.


Like with patterns and accessories, scale is important to take into consideration. If your body is tall, it would be well to honour this with longer necklaces, and you look fabulous in larger scale necklaces as well. A petite, slight body type will look more proportional with thinner chains and smaller details in necklaces and adjusting the length accordingly. A huge opera length necklace will seem just as out of place on a small body as a tiny pendant on a thin chain will look on a statuesque body.

Satuesque and skinny


Asymmetrical, off-shoulder, square, scoop or boat necklines will be super with a very short necklace.

Short necklaces

Strapless, scoop or square necklines can also handle a slightly longer (princess length) necklace.

Princess necklace

Plunging necklines call for a longer necklace, like matinée length

matinée necklace

Turtleneck or high collar tops/dresses look fabulous with a really long, opera length necklace. Drop waist or long sleek party dresses are also elegant with opera or rope length necklaces.

Opera necklace

A small necklace with a neat pendant is the perfect fit for a sweetheart or slight V-neck top.

Pendant necklaces

How to find your perfect necklace length

Play with it.

Find a piece of string or yarn in a colour that stands out from your skin and adjust the length until it seems pleasing to your eye. Then measure that and see which of the classic standards it comes closest to, then you know which search term to enter in your google search for your next necklace.

Or if you have a necklace that you’re particularly fond of, measure that, and you’ll know what to look for next!

Because the bottom line is:

Do what makes you happy. If you want to wear that long statement necklace with your boat neck top, do it. Now that I've researched the rules, I'm giving you permission to break them. Crush the rules to smithereens.

It's your style.

It's your expression.

Who cares what the rules are? If your dear Granny bequeathed you that lovely cameo pendant and it makes you feel like you're carrying around a bit of her every day when you're wearing it, wear the gosh darn necklace. Wear it with everything. With pride. 

About the author, Jorunn Hernes

Jorunn is a Certified Personal Colour Analyst, founder of Nordic Simplicity and Scandinavian Style Academy™, the fresh, simple, Scandinavian approach to getting dressed. Jorunn will avoid social settings with more than three people but can be lured out with snacks and the promise to talk about books.

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