Jewelry: Working The Neckline

Jewelry — By admin on April 15, 2009 at 4:12 pm


We’ve all been there, staring in the mirror at the asymmetrical neckline of that gorgeous one shoulder dress. A quizzical look makes its way across your smiling countenance as reservations rise to the surface. What jewelry works with this? Should I just do earrings? What about that necklace locked away and waiting for an outing? Will it work? Are bracelets too casual? Will a cocktail ring do the trick? Is there something I haven’t thought of? How do celebrities pull this off so well?

Actually there are far more answers than questions when it comes to pairing the silhouette of a formal or semi-formal dress with jewelry. Choices abound, sometimes too many, but there aren’t any real rules. However, there are simple concepts to remember that will give you confidence to effectively accessorize that neckline, be it a scoop or a strapless.

To begin, the face is the most important feature to emphasize. This is especially true for the evening when socializing and chatting with friends or family will be the main activity. Whether fine or costume jewelry, be sure to choose your metals and/or gems wisely; anything you choose should work with your dress, complexion, the color of your eyes, and if you are going to wear earrings, the relationship between your neckline and hair style (more about this subject in another post…). Almost all types of earrings will work beautifully with a strapless dress, a graceful bateau or an off-the-shoulder neckline. When I said there were no rules, I may have misled you. There is one. Never permit your jewelry to play peek-a-boo with your clothes. Always keep a necklace above or below your neckline. No hovering below when sitting, loitering when standing, or falling into crevices that should be kept free of unsightly entanglements.

Ancient Amethyst

Ancient Amethyst

Wearing jewelry gets a bit trickier as the collar line become shallower, or closes up altogether. Bareness lends itself adornment because the expanse of skin you show invites ornamentation; it is a natural canvas. Well-designed apparel, crafted in luxurious fabrics and cut to perfection, the reason to buy couture in the first place, are in and of themselves sculptural art forms. Add jewelry that showcases a single color, or compliments your best feature; one ornament that does this very well is a brooch.

A pin will work practically anywhere, and it will never interfere with a neckline. Apply one to the shoulder of that one shoulder dress I discussed earlier. You will often see this way of styling a pin on the red carpet because it offers a clean, yet enormously flattering effect.

As far as bracelets are concerned, they are wonderful when stacked on a bare arm, or even on a clothed one yet here I ask you to assert some caution. One fantastic gem-y bangle or cuff is great over a sleeve, but more than that, and the effect become too cluttered. Going sleeveless means you have more real estate with which to play - just ensure that your pieces work in a way that creates a graceful visual effect, during the day you can work an armload of jewels with inventive panache, but at night go for something with a bit more restraint - one to three bracelets in total elevates your overall appearance in a refined, yet festive way.

Lori Ettlinger Gross is a writer, historian, jewelry stylist and frequent guest expert on shows such as Martha Stewart Living   Her first  book,  Brooches: Timeless Adornment (Rizzoli, May 2008), was published last year.

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