Necklaces with One-Shouldered Looks

With the exception of before and after makeover pictures, it’s rare to see a photo of a “don’t” in a fashion magazine (putting aside the issue of whether you personally like or dislike some of the magazine’s stylings). Notable exceptions are the renowned black-bar photos in the “Dos & Don’ts” feature at the back of every issue of Glamour magazine.

I was intrigued, therefore, to see a four-page advertising spread from five consumer brands (CoverGirl, Secret, Pantene, Venus Embrace and Olay) in some of the September 2009 fashion magazines, including Vogue and Glamour, focusing upon one-shouldered garments and giving cautionary advice about how to style the look with jewelry.

With these asymmetrical looks, “Shine On,” suggests the writer, adding: “Steer clear of necklaces, but don’t be afraid to sport earrings that make a big statement.” One accompanying photo shows a model wearing a low-hanging bib necklace with her white one-shouldered dress.

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The photo visually demonstrates a situation where the line of the neckline of the one-shouldered dress clashes with the line of the necklace. Neither the necklace nor the neckline dominates, and the result is confusing and therefore displeasing to the viewer’s eye. Medium to long necklaces that hang over the top of the asymmetrical garment create this effect.

Generally I agree with the statement that one should avoid necklaces with one-shouldered looks. A diagonal neckline on a garment gives an illusion of height and flatters the neck and shoulders of the wearer. Keeping the neck bare and polishing the look with earrings is always an attractive approach. To add more sparkle, add a brooch or two on the shoulder or shoulder side of the asymmetrical garment.

However, if one wishes to be a bit creative or contrarian, then, to adorn a one-shouldered dress, one might retain the earrings, perhaps dialing them down in size, and add a choker or very short necklace. When the necklace either surrounds a portion of the neck or sits high and close to the face at the base of the neck so as not to interfere with the neckline of the dress, the necklace can be an attractive addition. This styling works best for someone with a relatively long neck.

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Illustration: Necklaces featured in InStyle: 14kt gold by Anita Ko, 19kt gold & carnelians by Elizabeth Locke, 19kt gold on Teflon cord by Jill Platner, and 18kt gold & diamonds by Cartier.

InStyle magazine notes in its report on fine jewelry in its September 2009 issue that short necklaces are stylish again: “After seasons of wearing necklaces long and layered, imagine the striking statement a chic nestled-on-your-collarbone strand can make when worn with a plunging blouse or a strapless dress.” That chic short necklace might also adorn a fashionable one-shouldered garment.