Trend Watch: Over or Under—Options for Necklace Placement with Bow Blouses and Tie-Neck Dresses

It can be fascinating to watch what consumer brands’ own stylists do with jewelry to style an ad, and to compare that approach with what celebrity stylists and costume designers do with the same styles of clothing and jewelry. Their approaches can be different, even diametrical, presenting interesting styling options.

Perusing the October 2009 issue of InStyle magazine, I found an ad for DKNY Jeans, in which the model appears to be wearing a bow blouse under a military-inspired design jacket with brass buttons and epaulets. By “bow blouse” or “tie-neck blouse” I mean a blouse with attached (sometimes detachable) ties at the neck that can be worn tied into a large or small bow, otherwise wrapped around the neck, or left to hang down the front of the blouse.

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Illustration: Detail from DKNY Jeans ad

In the DKNY Jeans ad, the ties of the blouse are knotted at the neck, not in a bow, and hang loose, extending down to the level of the model’s thighs. Prominently displayed over the ties of the blouse is a golden-colored necklace, consisting of three nested chains of increasing size from top to bottom. Neither the blouse nor the necklace appears on the brand’s web site as I write this, even though the ad itself is featured there.

Compare that styling approach with that taken by the costume designer for the hit television show Gossip Girl, Eric Daman, who put together an ensemble pictured a few pages back in the same issue of InStyle. Actress Leighton Meester wears a tie-neck dress by Victoria Beckham. The ties of the dress are extremely long, and appear to hang down to approximately her knees. The ties are loosely knotted together at the top, and the knot is kept in place with a single Alexis Bittar earring worn as a brooch. That’s a brilliantly creative use for those single earrings I discussed last month in my post “Single Mingles-Mismatched Earrings.”

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Illustration: Leighton Meester on the set of Gossip Girl, pictured in InStyle

Notice that Daman places an opera-length vintage pearl necklace under the ties of the dress, which gives the long vertical lines of the ties more prominence. The look is finished with several Slane & Slane pearl bracelets worn together thickly on one wrist, a Giorgio Armani python handbag and the character’s signature headband, this one by Paige Gamble.

Wearing a necklace under the ties of a bow blouse or tie-neck dress works best when the tie-neck garment is not covered up by a jacket or sweater, since otherwise almost nothing of the necklace will be seen.

Let me revisit a feature from the October 2009 issue of Vogue, which pictured various lovely longish-sleeve print dresses that I discussed in my September 30 blog post, “Long Sleeves (sort of), with Bracelets.” A couple of the dresses have tie necks, but the ties appear to be quite short; both dresses’ ties are not left hanging loose like the two styles discussed above, but rather are tied into short floppy bows. The Dolce & Gabbana necklace in each case is worn just under the bow, and notice how the stylist cleverly shows the bow blown to one side in order to reveal the necklace in the photo. In real life, of course, unless the bow is pinned into place, it would flop right over the necklace so that very little of the necklace would be seen. This situation can be rectified with the use of a slightly longer necklace, like the vintage pearl strand or golden chains seen above.

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Illustration: Unrealistic but dramatic styling of tie-neck dress by Marc Jacobs with Dolce & Gabbana watch necklace seen in Vogue

Except where the necklace is entirely obscured, it adds polish to a tie-neck garment. Try necklaces of different lengths with a tie-neck both tied and untied, and explore a variety of styling options to maximize the versatility of your necklaces.