We love a good chain-on-chain accessory moment but figuring out how to layer necklaces without getting them tangled is a true skill. That said, you don’t need to be a professional stylist to learn how to get it right. There are a few simple things to know (like, what does a 16-inch necklace look like?) and a handful of tricks to keep in mind, but after that we’ve come up with three no-fail necklace layering formulas to get you mixing and matching your entire collection in no time.
Want To Learn How to Layer Necklaces? Start With These 3 Super-Easy Formulas
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First things first: it helps to be familiar with typical necklace lengths and where they hit on your body. You can always grab a ruler or tape measure and lay your pieces out to measure them, or you use the chart above as a general guide (just note, because every body is different, your necklaces might sit slightly higher or lower). Layering three 18-inch pendants is only going to look tangled and messy, so it helps to know exactly what you’ve got in your jewelry box before you go piling them on.
However, we do know a few tricks for adjusting the length of your necklaces without taking them to a jeweler or splurging on a new chain altogether. Necklace extenders, like this one from Gorjana ($8), simply clip onto the end of your chain to give it a few extra inches. On the flip side, mini safety pins in matching metals (Michaels, $4) can shorten a chain in a snap.
If you find your layered chains are constantly getting tangled, we have a handy little tip for that too: invest in a necklace separator clasp (Miranda Frye, $52). This nifty add-on keeps all the clasps in one spot, stopping them from drifting from the back of your neck or weaving around one another.
Now that we’ve got the basics down, it’s time to start layering.
1. 16-inch Necklace + 18-inch Necklace + 24-inch Necklace
Let’s start simple with this classic trio. Feel free to play around a bit with the lengths (swap the shortest chain for a choker or the longest one for a dramatic lariat), but as long as you have three necklaces with at least a two-inch difference in length, you should be looking good. If you want a minimalist vibe, stick to similar metals or materials, i.e., pairing gold with rose gold and silver with white gold. Or, if you’ve got a more eclectic taste, go ahead and mix it up with different colored gemstones, a slew of metals and even beads or pearls.
2. Chunky Chain + Delicate Links Of A Similar Length
Pick one design—chain links, pearls, architectural gold, colorful beads—and two necklaces of the same or similar length in your chosen theme. The only thing you need to focus on is necklaces that lay on opposite sides of the size spectrum. In other words, if your first pick is an oversize link choker, your second should be a dainty, little chain. Similarly, chunky baroque pearls look gorgeous next to thin, pearlescent beads, and so on. (Pro tip: If the size difference between your two necklaces is really dramatic, we suggest choosing a large style that sits lower than the small one, to keep everything balanced.)
3. Thin Beads + Thin Metal, Or Vice Versa
If you want to try mixed media, put like with like and remember that size is more important than length. A string of mid-size red beads will overpower a delicate silver pendant, just as a chunky gold-linked lariat will bury a tiny crystal chain. Choose two or three (or four if you’re feeling bold) necklaces of similar thicknesses, in differing lengths and combine for one unique, gorgeous mix-and-match look.