Trend Watch: Bib Necklaces–Why Wearing One Isn’t Child’s Play

Bib necklaces, which came back into style earlier this year, remain a continuing trend for fall 2009, as featured in the September 2009 issue of Lucky magazine. Originally shown in outrageous outsize versions in designer runway shows, and awe-inspiring in gemstones by Fred Leighton on the neck of Amy Adams at the 2009 Academy Awards, these necklaces have trickled down to become a popular statement pieces at inexpensive price points.

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[Illustration: Amy Adams in a Fred Leighton necklace at the 2009 Academy Awards]

Often they are essentially a piece of spangled and embroidered fabric tied on with ribbon, and some very attractive and creative designs can be found at resultantly low prices. The effect is a lot of bang for the buck.

Bib necklaces, quite aside from the materials of which they are composed, however, are a trend that do not suit everyone equally well.

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Part of the issue has to do with what portion of the chest is covered. Notice, for example, this low-hanging beaded silk and brass necklace from candaceang.com, shown in Lucky magazine worn. The necklace is placed so the top of the bib sits just above the widest point of the bust line. A necklace that low will need to navigate the hills and dales of a woman’s form, so the less “rugged” the terrain, the better a necklace can conform to the body. Many bib necklaces are adjustable and can be brought up to draw attention more toward the face than the bustline. In this case, the stylist most likely was trying to avoid the effect of the body of the bib necklace crossing over the low neckline of the blouse. Normally a necklace is chosen with consideration for the garment it is adorning. The choice here was to go low on the necklace placement or to opt for a different top and raise the level of the necklace.

Indeed, low-hanging bib necklaces consistently drag the eye down, and the bigger the necklace, the more this is true. For anyone fighting the effects of gravity in her face, neck, or bustline, this is not an optimal choice.

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Bib necklaces can be especially difficult to wear for anyone with a wide lower portion of her face or jawline, especially if the necklace has a decidedly rounded upper and lower edge and if the jawline too is itself rounded rather than angular. I think this hand-embroidered silk necklace by 3.1 Phillip Lim shown in Lucky is not flattering to the model, whose wide part of her face is low. The rounded disks of the necklace look heavy and emphasize her low, rounded cheeks. Everything about this look directs the eye down, away from her eyes and her face. You see the necklace and don’t notice the woman wearing it.

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The third bib featured in Lucky is a piece by Harry L. Neufeld Co. It is worn relatively close to the face, and has a slightly vee shape, which looks to be flattering to the model. One rule of thumb is that the top portion of the necklace should be no narrower than the widest point of the wearer’s face. This ensures that the wearer’s face doesn’t appear disproportionately wide. It appears this necklace accomplishes that requirement.

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Finally, note that wide variety of design elements in the bib necklaces collected in Lucky. Here’s a great opportunity for noticing and understanding how design details of various bibs relate to the design elements of the wearer’s face. Look for relationships between the wearer’s eyes, nose and/or mouth and the details and spacing of the design elements on the necklace. Remember that the goal is to highlight the features the wearer wants to highlight. Thus the emeralds in the Fred Leighton bib necklace bring out the green of Amy Adams’s eyes.

Because a bib necklace is truly a statement piece of jewelry, this is one time when the underlying garment should be chosen to play a supporting role to the necklace, rather than the other way around. A well-chosen base garment allows the creative design of the necklace to be worn at the optimal height to flatter the wearer.