Hi Susan –
As I was muddling through my jewelry box this morning, confused as usual, I had an epiphany: Susan could help me; must ask Susan.
So here it is: how do you know what length necklace to wear with what neckline? I have a scoop neck, 3/4 length sleeve sweater. The neckline has three small pleats. Do I wear a necklace that falls above or below the neckline? What about button down shirts? Above or below? I like wearing long necklaces, but how long is too long? My longest ends a few inches above my belly button – is this too hippy-like for the office?
Thanks for your help.
The sweater Pamela is describing would look best with a necklace that falls above the neckline (she doesn’t want her jewelery to compete with the detailing on the sweater, which sounds so cute). As a general rule, scoop neck and V neck tops call for shorter necklaces, while a crew-neck sweater or tee is balanced by a longer necklace, something that hangs below the neckline but above the hem of the shirt.
With a button down, or any shirt with a collar, the necklace should go INSIDE the collar (only Preppie teenage girls who wear uniforms to school can REALLY pull off that necklace-outside-the-collar look). A short necklace always works with a blouse or button down, but you can also wear a longer necklace; either layer your shirt over a camisole or tank and leave the buttons open, or button up and just let the necklace peek out. Fans of Will and Grace will remember Grace’s affinity for menswear shirts and multiple long necklaces, which was both artsy and professional looking (of course, you will also remember that her shirts were quite often unbuttoned enough that her bra was visible, which is very sexy but probably NOT work appropriate). A longer necklace tucked inside a blouse can be a subtle way to add some bling to an otherwise staid work outfit.
How long is too long? It depends. Pamela asks specifically if a longer necklace is okay for work, and in general I would say yes, as long as the necklace is in keeping with whatever else she would wear to work. If her office is mostly suits and heels, she should choose something dressy (a long gold or silver chain, for example, or a long string of pearls). If her office is more casual, she could go with something more bohemian or artsy, like glass or silk beads. In either case, Pamela wants to balance the long necklace with a long, lean line in her clothes. Don’t wear a long necklace with high-waisted pants, for example (although really, don’t wear high-waisted pants in the FIRST place). Pamela could go with a crew-neck sweater, a pair of dressy trousers or a slim skirt, some nice heels or pointy-toed flats, and a great long necklace. She could also do a great pair of long jeans and heels with a funkier necklace.
The long necklace is NOT for every body; well-endowed women do better with shorter necklaces that fall above their cleavage. Vicky Iovine has a very funny bit in the Girlfriend’s Guide To Pregnancy about the risk that your long necklace will “lasso” a breast. A long necklace can call attention to a larger chest but NOT in a flattering way. You do not want your necklace swinging freely under your breasts. This just makes your boobs look like a shelf, which really isn’t pretty.
Flatter chested girls (like me!) can totally wear the long necklace look. Think of it as a reward for having such a hard time buying a bra. However, you absolutely need to wear a bra with a long necklace. Do I really have to elaborate on this? No, I thought not.
With a boatneck top or sweater, choose some great dangly earrings instead of a necklace. And keep in mind that a 3/4 length sleeve is perfect for a pretty bracelet.
Jewelry is an easy way to dress up any outfit. If you have jewelry you love, wear it every day; don’t save it for a special occasion. A beautiful necklace or bracelet can make an otherwise dreary Tuesday a brighter day.