Wearing Costume Jewellery

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How To Wear Jewellery

Getting the Hang of Necklaces

How to wear jewellery - when it comes to jewellery some people have the knack and some don't. Some women can put together amazing combinations of beads, and some just put on the piece that's closest to hand or that has sentimental value. Stylish women in the past like Jackie Kennedy and Coco Chanel were famous for their signature jewellery. When it comes to choosing a necklace to wear with a certain outfit there are a few rules and guidelines you should consider. Don't be afraid to mix styles, chunky colourful beads can redeem the plainest clothes a classic piece can add polish to a fussier outfit. Jewellery is subject to the same fashion as clothes, because of this it is important to keep experimenting with colours and silhouettes. If you need help then look no further, in this next section I will give you examples and advice on how to wear different kinds of necklaces.

The Charm Necklace

There has been a massive craze recently for charm jewellery, and this craze shows no signs of diminishing. Bohemian-style pendant necklaces with tiny charms and semiprecious stones, are still a key look and a fun relaxed way to wear a necklace without feeling too formal or dressed up. You will also be surprised at how many items of clothing they go with, anything from a plain white t-shirt to a pretty evening dress.

Jamie Rubin's necklaces which are stocked at Liberty are typical of this style - dripping with antique curios and colourful stones, they are utterly versatile. You can wear them casually over a billowing peasant top or more dressy with a lace dress. You can also create your very own personal pieces, using items on your jewellery box such as old rings, antique charms, and lockets look sweet and nostalgic when strung together on a simple chain. Links of London have introduced a charm bar, which includes a selection of vintage charms, while old charms are also easy to pick up from antique shops and flea markets.

Remember that although women used to be very particular about what jewellery they wear, these days anything goes. So, for a less formal and a more up-to-date look, feel free to mix different metals and stones on your charm necklace, or combine a number of different necklaces in a pretty jumble.

The Statement Piece

A bold piece can make an instant impression, so the statement necklace is not for the faint hearted. The more confident you are the more exuberant you can afford to be - and there's no reason why you shouldn't mix this kind of necklace with lavish clothes. For the less intrepid, it is safer to keep the outfit simple.

It is easy to buy attention grabbing items from jewellery boutique such as Erickson Beamon, it is most often vintage pieces that can look truly stylish. Merola has necklaces with big chunks of semiprecious stones, as well as more dressy ones with glittering rhinestones. At Cristobal dealers come from all over the world to buy antique pieces renowned jewellers such as Miriam Haskell and Stanley Hangler. It is important that you think about proportion with larger pieces of jewellery. Petite women should stick to neater, smaller shapes, where as taller women can carry off big necklaces. Keep everything balanced with a statement necklace, and avoid bold earrings or rings.


A simple strand of pearls transcends time and trends: it is the little black dress of the jewellery box. It goes with virtually anything, adding elegance to the simplest outfit. From short debutante strands to long, flapper-style strings, pearls can also be worn in myriad ways.

Shorter strands worn against the skin will add a luminous glow and work brilliantly against the texture of a cashmere cardigan or T-shirt in a soft colour. Wear a length that sits across your collarbones but avoid matching earrings, which could have an ageing (and dated) effect. Vintage pearls have more of a creamy glow than newer cultured pearls. If you are buying new, the French jewellery boutique Agatha always has a good selection.

Wear larger pearls Jack O-style with a neat shift dress, or longer strands for a modern edge. They also look stunning with a little black dress that has a round or boat neck and, in the spring, look out for the simple dresses in bold colours or monochrome prints. For even more of a statement, generously pile strings of pearls together. Think Louise Brooks, the 1920's silent-film star, with her graphic bobbed hair, plain black dress and a chic strand of pearls hanging to her hips. There are a few rules when it comes to this style - just play with different lengths and sizes, keeping the backdrop simple.

Recently, the pearl necklace has been reborn thanks to Lanvin designer Alber Elbaz, who encases then in fine lengths of tulle or threads them on to silk ribbon. This has been picked up by the high street and you could also do your own version at home.


They might not at first seem like the most versatile of necklaces, but pendants will go with virtually anything in your wardrobe - and they are making a big comeback at the moment. There are endless variations on this theme, from short cameos to pendants that dangle anywhere from your cleavage to your navel. Some can be adjusted to what ever length you choose - Lola Rose sells pretty flower and heart pendants on a leather thong, so that you can make them as long or as short as you wish. Having said that, if you have a large bust, avoid a bold pendant that sits directly on top of your cleavage.

Shorter pendants that sit just below the collarbone look good with round necks and strapless tops, and should be worn against the skin. A longer necklace is more flattering, as it will draw the eye down in the same way a deep V-neck can, and will lengthen the body - making you look slimmer, taller and more elegant.

Chunky versions - such as the dazzling costume jewellery by the Ameroican designer Kenneth Jay Lane - look great worn over black or chocolate polo-neck sweaters. Look out for Lane's bold gold pendant necklaces with big coins or antique seals, which you can buy on www.net-a-porter.com. More subtle are the pendant necklaces at links of London - the new Petrovna gold and jade pendant is feminine and very beautiful.

Layered Fine Necklaces

Delicate chains and necklaces are more subtle and feminine and one of the easiest styles to work into your wardrobe - whether it is exuberant and bohemian or clean-cut and minimal. Layering finer necklaces will also bring a fresh, youthful edge to your clothes and, as with virtually any longer strands, there are few restrictions when it comes to age or shape. For wide necks and busts, fine layering can soften the neckline, but don't wear large earrings as they will look incongruous and upstage the necklace.

If you plan to layer a few plain chains together, they tend to look best against the skin, rather than sitting in a confused jumble amid your clothes. The only point to consider is that there should be some kind of contrast in the lengths you are wearing. Laura Lee has fine chains speckled with semiprecious stones, which look stunning when worn in this way - camisole and jeans, or setting off a more formal party dress.

Some jewellers even do the thinking for you by working a few strands together in a cool mesh - Lee Angel's necklaces, which can be found on www.net-a-porter.com, blend lengths of gold chain with leather and jewelled drops. Another great source of jewellery by a range of designers is the newly launched www.manjoh.com. This site features a mix of contemporary designers, including Izabel Camille and Tomoko Furusawa, who both use layering in their jewellery to great effect.


These may be the most attention-seeking, sexy, dramatic necklaces to wear, but they can also be the most challenging. Deep, stiff chokers - those intricate constructions of metal and faceted beads that jewellers such as Butler & Wilson make so brilliantly - should be worn only by women with the most graceful long necks. They can also look unsightly on older necks, so its best to avoid this style if you are beyond a certain age.

There are, of course, plenty of alternatives to these showy pieces. If you prefer a more subtle effect, Angela Hale has delicate ribbon chokers with tiny jewelled heart drops that are much softer. It is very easy to mimic this style by simply attaching a small broach or pin to a length of lushly coloured velvet ribbon from any haberdasher. For an eye-catching touch, buy vintage ribbon and attach a small antique belt buckle to the centre.

Deeper chokers tend to draw unflattering attention to a round face or short neck, although you can soften the look by layering matching strands of beads below your choker, as the Edwardians used to do to great effect. Chokers need room - they look best when worn with the very simplest strapless black dress, subdued corset or bustier top and, preferably, with clothes that have as little decoration on them as possible, but make sure you keep your hair tied back or lifted up and away from the neck.



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