How to Wear Necklaces If You’re Busty

Thus is titled an instructive article in the May 2010 issue of Lucky magazine, which provides some helpful tips for busty women, as visually demonstrated by the model, a member of the magazine’s staff (using real people from the staff as models is a wonderful regular feature of Lucky). The article provides a good springboard for discussion.

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Illustration: The first of two necklaces Lucky magazine recommends for a busty woman

The article illustrates two styles of necklaces on the model, one that extends over and past her bustline, and one that lies above it. Let’s start with a consideration of long necklaces. The longer necklace length illustrated in the article is demonstrated with a multi-strand necklace by Stella & Dot. It is certainly easier to wear a long necklace if one is relatively flat-chested; the necklace will lie close against the chest. For a busty woman, however, the necklace needs to navigate over and around curves. Lucky advises:

For a longer length, chunkiness is key. Anything lightweight will bounce around, and anything too dainty will fall into your cleavage. The tangle of crystals and beads here stays put perfectly.

Lucky seems to equate “chunky” with “heavy” (i.e., not lightweight) and to suggest that a necklace needs to be heavy in order to work well for the busty woman. However, not all chunky jewelry is heavy around the neck, nor need it be. The same basic style of necklace as pictured in the magazine and rendered in solid sterling silver or crystal is likely to be much heavier than one rendered in hollow beads, stamped metal (repoussé) or plastic. A chunky lightweight necklace is likely to work beautifully without bouncing around excessively, and with potentially less strain on the neck than a chunky, heavy necklace.

Whether choosing a heavy necklace or a lighter one, choosing a multi-strand design, particularly one with staggered lengths, helps a necklace stay put. Another design detail that helps keep a necklace in place is a flat surface that lies against the body, such as seen in many bib necklaces. Round beads have more of a tendency to move and swing.

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Illustration: Anne Hathaway wearing a long, heavy Chanel necklace in The Devil Wears Prada

Indeed, a single heavy necklace strand of longer length is likely to bounce around substantially more than a lighter weight strand, as the heaviness of the metal or glass swings and picks up momentum when one walks. For an illustration of this, see Anne Hathaway wearing a long Chanel necklace with her messenger’s cap ensemble in The Devil Wears Prada. Her necklace is one dominantly heavy strand accompanied by a very light strand, and the lot bounces merrily as she walks.

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In this photo from the May 17, 2010, issue of People magazine, model Christie Brinkley is shown wearing a low top emphasizing her cleavage along with what appears to be a lightweight single-strand necklace. Because it is lightweight, it may have some tendency to bounce around, as Lucky suggests. Yet although the necklace is certainly dainty, I think it shows no tendency to want to fall into her cleavage, as Lucky also suggests. The reason why this should not be an issue, at least in part, is that the necklace is long enough so that the weight of the necklace at the bottom carries it over the bustline.

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For a look that does get caught in the cleavage, here is Cate Blanchett, pregnant and more than usually busty, at the 2008 Academy Awards. The necklace doesn’t have enough length and weight to carry over her bustline.

With a necklace as long as that worn by Brinkley, a potential issue to be alert to is if the necklace hooks around a breast. If the necklace shifts when it is being worn and catches, appearing to have lassoed a breast, that is never a good look.

There are degrees of bustiness, of course. A woman may be so busty that any necklace swings off the shelf of her bosom as she walks. This is not a good look. If this is a potential issue, I recommend choosing a shorter necklace length that falls between the chin and the bustline.

Speaking of long, since this post is getting long, I’ll continue my discussion of the Lucky article in my next post, in which I’ll discuss short necklaces for the busty woman and lessons from the style of Sophia Loren. Stay tuned!