A Neck Mess Is the New Arm Party: Here's Why It's Trending

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The second that Zoom meetings replaced IRL catch-ups in the conference room six months ago, I became a lot more aware of the accessories I can wear from the shoulders up. That means all eight of my earring holes are filled at all times and I’m more likely than not rocking a jumble of necklaces. But, it turns out I’m not the only one throwing on as many neck adornments as possible and hoping it looks good on a camera screen.

In fact, this purposely messy look is known as a neck mess, a trend that’s not quite new. The hashtag #neckmess has already racked up 50K pictures on Instagram. And just a warning, the last time I scrolled through it, I ended up buying a new necklace. But seeing as this is a more-is-more trend, I’m not too mad at myself about the impulse purchase.

However, you don’t *need* to clasp on 50 different necklaces in order to achieve a neck mess because this trend is all about personalization and your preferences. Which explains why just two or three gold chains could do the trick. Or you could mix a strand of gemstone beads with two small chains and a pendant. Really, the options for a neck mess are endless.

If you still need some help getting started with this trend, here are some tips for building a neck mess that feels inherently you.

missoma neck mess

Start With A Medium-length Chain

The hardest part about putting together a quality neck mess is figuring out which necklace to have as your base. So, if you’re feeling stuck while perusing your personal collection—or browsing the web to find a new necklace or two—here’s a great tip from Kate Woods, the Brand Manager at Missoma: “Start with a medium length, because from there you can go longer or shorter—plus, it works with every neckline.”

Missoma also has a brilliant tool called the Layering Lab that lets you build a neck mess from their array of wearable baubles and see what it looks like stacked together before purchasing it. After hearing Woods’ great tip, I tried starting with a medium length chain from their collection—particularly with the Gold Camail Snake Chain Necklace—and can confirm that the middle-of-the-road length is a great jumping off point. Especially since most pendants will dangle below a mid-length chain, while chokers will flatteringly sit an inch or two above it.

Get the look: Missoma Gold Camail Snake Chain Necklace ($239); Missoma Gold Good Luck Charm Necklace ($162); Missoma Gold Opalite Pave Hex Pirouette Chain Necklace ($433)

dena silver neck mess
Dena Silver

A neck mess offers a prime opportunity to pull out the $10 chain you bought years ago and pair it with grandma’s heirloom diamond pendant that you were lucky enough to inherit. Because all sorts of metals and gemstones are being tossed together into one stack, it’s much easier to camouflage a not-so-great quality bauble among some pricier pieces. And since the whole look isn’t delicate or too contrived, a combination of metal tones and qualities simply adds a little extra character—which is exactly what you’re going for here.

Get the look: Macy's Figaro Link Chain Necklace ($375; $188); Gorjana Venice Necklace ($70); Family Gold Solid Gold Flat Heart Pendant Necklace ($149); Adina’s Jewels Coin Pendant Necklace ($88)

katmojo jewelry neck mess
Katmojo Jewelry/Instagram

Don’t Feel Confined To A Single Color Scheme

Not into an all-gold look? Or, do you prefer wearing pops of your three favorite colors, all at the same time? Regardless, the neck stack offers an opportunity to mix not only silver and gold, but gemstones of all types. We love how Katmojo Jewelry paired an opal bead necklace with turquoise, plus pink enamel stars, an emerald tennis necklace, diamonds, a blue enamel moon and an amethyst charm. Oh, and there's a string of pearls in there, too.

While that wild combo sounds a bit over-the-top, that’s because it totally nails the “messy” feel that’s at the crux of this trend.

Get the look: Katmojo Jewelry Cotton Candy Opal Necklace ($145); Jennifer Zeuner Mika Romy Star Necklace ($176); The Last Line Emerald Perfect Collar Tennis Necklace ($2,625); Majorica Illusion Handcrafted Pearl Strand Necklace ($340)

delphine jewelry neck mess
Delphine Jewelry/Instagram

Play With Textures

However, you can go with a specific color scheme if you’d like to try a cleaner look, just as Delphine Leymarie of Delphine Leymarie Fine Jewelry did with turquoise and gold. Make sure to play with a variety of textures to add some intrigue (and yes, some stylish chaos). The mix of enamel and rough-cut stones is what draws your eye up down and all around this jumble of jewelry goodness. Not to mention, the variety of links in each chain helps add some additional personality without all the clutter.

Get the look: Delphine Leymarie Boheme Turquoise Nugget Open Chain ($389); Joy Dravecky Jewelry Daydreamer Pendant Necklace ($65); Adina’s Jewels Celestial Charm Enamel Necklace ($68); Jennifer Fisher Large Essential Gold-Plated Choker ($350)

jane taylor jewelry neck mess
Jane Taylor Jewelry/Instagram

It’s Knot A Problem

“Don’t be afraid of tangles because it adds a lived-in feel to your stack,” says Cleo Zancope of Jane Taylor Jewelry. “But do be sure, for the sake of your jewelry, to untangle your chains a few times throughout the day—especially first thing in the morning, if you’re sleeping with your necklaces on.”

For minimal tangles, it does help to build a neck mess with necklaces of varying weights and lengths. So try to add a heavier choker chain alongside your mini lariat. If you have necklaces all of the same size and heft, you’re pretty much guaranteed to end up with a knot by the end of the day.

If you are, however, really concerned about turning your family heirlooms into one expensive, sparkling knot, there’s one easy purchase that can help: a layering clasp. Basically, you just clip both ends of your necklaces (it fits up to three) onto the rings of the clasp and you’re good to go. The clasp itself has a magnetic closure, so with a simple snap you can remove your entire stack at once. Now, go on and build the neck mess of your dreams.

Get the look: Jane Taylor Petite Floral Trio Necklace ($1,485); Lionette Woodstock Moon Necklace ($110); Catbird 1976 Choker ($224); Mini Mini Jewels Zodiac Dog Tag Necklace ($330)

dena silver headshot

Fashion Editor

From 2019-2021 Dena Silver held the role of Fashion Editor covering product recommendations, trends, and what you should be shopping this season.