The Vee Neck Adorned vs. Unadorned: When Not to Add a Necklace

The little black dress (LBD) is a perennial staple of women’s wardrobes. And this season, eye-catching necklaces are ubiquitous–every list of must-have accessories this winter includes the statement necklace. Combining the two might seem to be a no-brainer.

In many cases, there is nothing that will add more flair to a basic black dress than a gorgeous necklace. However, not all LBDs have the capability of working with necklaces equally well. The most important factor in determining whether to add a necklace, or to forego one completely, is the neckline of the dress.

Certainly a pendant style necklace, which itself visually creates a vee shape, works well with a deep vee neckline. The necklace in most cases lays completely within the neckline, providing a pleasing effect, as seen in this current ad from Max Mara:

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And thus one might assume that the LBD with the deep vee neckline also is best accessorized with an eye-catching pendant necklace. The March 2010 issue of InStyle magazine presents a different approach and explains the rationale: “Certain seductive silhouettes offer the chance to ignite allure. But if you’re going to wear depth-defying décolletage, there are rules you must obey.” Among those is the following rule: “Black is most effective against bare skin. No ‘statement’ necklaces are allowed to obscure the trajectory.”

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The above page from InStyle illustrates this rule on a wide variety of styles, each of which noticeably creates a deep vee in black against the wearer’s skin. These dresses are meant to highlight the body, not the face, and adding a necklace would detract from the intended effect of the dresses.

This current ad from Giorgio Armani also illustrates the rule:

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In the following photo, Julianne Moore demonstrates application of the rule to a dress in another high-impact color, in this case, a gorgeous green, as pictured in the February 2010 issue of Vogue.

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Notice also that Moore adorns her dress with a bracelet worn over her sleeve (a trend I noted in my February 8 blog post “Wrist Watch”).

Foregoing a necklace certainly does not mean foregoing other jewelry as well. A great pair of earrings chosen to complement a look finishes any ensemble. Bracelets and rings add panache. A strategically placed brooch at the bottom of the deep vee can add even more emphasis to the alluring design.

We’ve recently seen the “don’t obscure the trajectory” rule broken by Julia Roberts at the Golden Globes, when she added a spectacular gem-encrusted yellow gold pendant necklace to her black dress with deep vee neckline. The necklace created a shift in focus from the dress and décolletage, and her bosom, to the jewelry, just the thing that an always modestly attired actress might be expected to do.

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