For months now, I’ve been wanting to try some necklace-layering techniques that I learned in this post by the lovely Debbi at She Accessorizes Well. I’ve noticed that fashion bloggers layer jewelry just as artfully as they layer clothing, and I want to play, too!
To me, layered jewelry embodies that seemingly effortless, Boho-chic look that I just love. The idea is to look like you just casually threw on a handful of necklaces on your way out the door. Everything blends perfectly, and you are now dripping with glittery fabulousness. You know the look I mean, right?
Now, I’ve never quite pulled this look off, but it could just be for lack of trying. My own personal style, though certainly far from conservative, can be a bit low-key. I tend to shy away from “too much” — whatever that means. I tried wearing a pair of necklaces once last year, and the look was just OK — nothing special. (On the bright side, none of my co-workers averted their eyes in pity, pretending not to notice my absent-minded inability to dress myself).
But then I read Debbi’s post, and a few things fell into place. She has some really great tips, so I strongly recommend that you read her post and look at her beautiful examples. The three main ideas that I took away were: 1) Use necklaces of different lengths; 2) look for some unifying element between all of them, and (most intriguingly) 3) try using odd numbers of necklaces, because they mix more easily than even numbers.
It took me awhile, but today presented the perfect opportunity to give it a try. This is the time of year when I experience the winter wardrobe blues: Everything bores me, I can’t find anything to wear, and I’m looking for ways to shake things up. Plus, it’s Mardi Gras! What better time to try on lots of beads? (You’ll be relieved to hear that no alcohol was involved, and I didn’t have to take my shirt off to “earn” my beads!)
So without further ado, let’s take a look at some of my efforts.
Almost immediately, I realized that I was faced with a challenge: I have very few necklaces of medium length. They just aren’t as versatile as my very short necklaces, which can be easily worn with a variety of open-necked tops , or my super long strands, which work well with sweaters and higher necklines. The medium-length strand, I realize, is one that I often avoid because it tends to be too long for some necklines and too short for others. Nevertheless, I found a couple of possibilities to work with.
Here’s my first attempt, using three necklaces.
What I like about this grouping is that it breathes new life into the top necklace — a gorgeous strand of intertwined pink and silver beads that I never wear because, for some reason, it disappears into my neck. When joined with the other two, this suddenly doesn’t seem like so much of a problem.
In fact, I’m noticing that, when combining necklaces, it’s good if at least one of them is willing to blend into the background a little bit. If all three necklaces were divas, competing for attention, the results could be rather jarring!
Here’s the next group:
All three strands, again, have natural-looking materials. (Come to think of it, I think all my jewelry is made of these kinds of materials!)
But even though the rustic, rough-hewn materials and shapes are all compatible, part of me feels that the overall look is a little too “chunky.” It’s like the chunky elements are fighting with each other, or something. But I’ll probably have to wear this combination out of the house a few times before I’ll know for sure.
So I made another attempt:
I thought I was going to do a lot more 3-necklace combos, but with the shortage of mid-length strands, I found it difficult. Furthermore, I was having trouble getting my necklines right. It was hard to figure out which tops to wear because, if the neck was open enough for a short necklace to be visible, it was sometimes too open for the longer strands to be shown to their best advantage. Do you understand what I’m saying? It can be hard enough to find one necklace that fits with the neckline of a particular top. Now I’m trying for three?
It’s like anything else — if you start paying too much attention to this stuff, there are a lot of minutiae to obsess about. Do the beads show best against bare skin, or against fabric? Should clothing and jewelry be in complementary colors or contrasting ones? So much for casually throwing on a few necklaces on the way out the door!
But Debbi threw me a lifeline. As one of her “rules,” she said that rules are made to be broken, and that we should feel free to experiment on our own. Whew! So although I really did like the 3-strand looks, I decided to simple things up a bit and try some necklace pairs, too.
Here are four examples that I liked:
The “echoes of amber” pair:
The “touch of faux turquoise” pair:
and the “blues & browns” pair:
What do you think? Do you think two strands work as well as three? On the one hand, it seems like things are simpler with fewer elements because there aren’t so many colors, textures, and other variables in play. At the same time, it seems like it might be more difficult for two items to blend — it could look more like a mistake. But I thought these worked OK.
Finally, as the afternoon wore on and my hands started cramping up from those teeny-tiny, too-hard-to-fasten clasps, it was time to wind down. I decided to try several combinations with the same simple strand of rosy-brown beads.
Here’s brown with green:
Brown with patterned shell:
And last but not least, brown with crazy, hypnotic, orange swirl:
I love how the purple in the swirl necklace brings out the hint of purple in the brown beads.
What I like about these last groupings is that they revive my plain brown beads. I have loved this simple yet elegant strand for years, but I often find it to be a little too plain, a little too conservative, for my more creative outfits. Blended with other necklaces, though, I think it helps ground the look and keep it from being “too much” (whatever that means).
So there you have it. It may be hard to tell from the photos how these looks come across when you can see the whole outfit, and I’ll need to wear these out of the house before I know for sure how well I like them. But I think these layering techniques might help me to get more use out of lesser-worn items, while also jazzing things up a bit.
What do you think? Do you have a favorite? What are your own experiences with layering? Do you think this Boho-chic thing has potential?