Customer Watch: Neck Lengths

A long, tall, elongated vertical appearance is the preferred look in fashion these days. Physically, much of the impression of vertical emphasis comes from a person’s neck.


A long neck is a terrific asset from the standpoint of a jewelry designer or retailer because it generally gives one a good amount of space between the chin and the bustline in which to drape necklaces or fasten clusters of brooches.


In addition, only a long neck easily accommodates a wide choker-style necklace that lays against the throat. Audrey Hepburn and Nicole Kidman, both of whom were blessed with lovely long necks, wore two of the most memorable chokers in the history of film.


    [Left, Audrey Hepburn in “My Fair Lady”, photo from 
    Right, the “Satine” necklace by Stefano Canturi, created for Nicole Kidman in “Moulin Rouge!”, 
    photo from]

The length of the neck also is a consideration in the selection of earrings. Long drop earrings of any shape are also most flattering on a woman with an average to long neck. As a general rule of thumb, the longer the earrings, the longer the neck of the woman they should adorn.


Take a look at the length of the model’s neck in any ad for a line of jewelry – your pick, almost any one will do – or in any ad or fashion spread in any magazine. Unless you’re looking at a makeover issue or an ad for a product line that features an inclusive approach in its ads, such as the Dove Campaign for Real Beauty, you’re probably going to see a long neck on every model pictured.


Look at the length of your own neck, the necks of your colleagues and the customers who come into your store today. Chances are, you’re going to see a wide range of neck lengths in your informal sampling. 


How can you assist the customer with a shorter neck choose jewelry that optimally flatters? Here are five tips:


  • Avoid chokers and short necklaces that lie at the very base of the throat, unless they are delicate in design and the wearer has a small build, a narrow jawline and small facial features.
  • Show necklaces that have a bit of length to open up the space under the wearer’s head and give the impression of a longer neck. Necklaces that are 24 inches or longer might be a good place to start. (For a full discussion of the optimal lengths for necklaces determined on an individual basis, please see Jewelry Savvy and our discussion of the balance points.)
  • Show earrings that extend no longer than the midpoint of the length of the customer’s neck. Earrings need not be narrow and delicate – indeed, those styles are best only for a wearer with delicate features. For the more typical customer, clusters, buttons and hoops with some width and which are an inch or so in length are likely to be flattering choices.
  • Earrings on French wires may not be the optimal choice. Because the design elements of these earrings fall under the ears, you lose the opportunity to adorn the earlobes at the same time you have a smaller amount of vertical space available. These earrings can direct the eye downward and subtly highlight the shortness of the wearer’s neck. 
  • Brooches are a great option, worn at a point at least as wide as the widest portion of the face. Like a slightly longer necklace, a brooch or multiple brooches can open up the area under the wearer’s head and give the impression of a longer neck.
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