How to choose the right chain length for you

When you’re shopping for a necklace online or in a store, you’ll be attracted by the colour, materials, and sparkle. But have you ever considered the length? Chain length is something that people rarely think about, but it can actually make a big difference. There are popular lengths and styles that can work for everyone, it’s best to figure out which length you like the most and what suits you best. In this guide, we’ll explain the different chain lengths you can choose from, plus how to decide what’s the perfect fit for you.

Understanding chain lengths

Length is the hardest part of picking a necklace but we’re here to make it easy for you! Firstly, you need to understand the different necklace lengths that you can choose from. Each designer or brand will have their own style and will offer different lengths but if you have an understanding around the lengths and their names, you can easily pick what you want when you next go shopping.

Necklace or chain lengths start from 13-inches and can go up to 42-inches. The smaller inch number means it’ll be closer to the neck and the bigger inch number will mean it falls longer down the body. The first chain lengths you’ll find is the collar and choker – the collar is 13-15 inches, and the choker is 15-17 inches. They both sit tight to the neck and are typically above the collarbones.

The next two chain lengths are the princess and matinee – the princess is 17-19 inches, and the matinee is 20-24 inches. These necklaces typically lie between the collarbone and the chest. They’re the most popular chain lengths as they’re the most common style for pendant and statement necklaces. Finally, the two longer chain lengths are opera and rope or lariat – opera is 28-36 inches and rope/lariat is 36-42 inches. These are the extra long chains that sit on the chest and drop further down the stomach.

Understanding chain types 

The type of the chain can also affect how the length of the necklace looks. Anchor, bead, belcher, cable, and trace are the most popular chain types that you can choose from, and both work best at a specific length. 

The anchor or mariner chain unsurprisingly looks like the chains that are attached to ship anchors. This chain has interlocking ovals with a bar running across the middle of each link. The mix of round and straight shapes works best as princess or matinee chains. The bead or ball chain is a series of tiny beads linked together and are typically best used in short necklace types like collars.

The belcher is one of the most recognisable chain types which has medium-sized round links. It works for a number of necklace types like pendants, and they also make good opera and rope necklaces. The cable chain is identical oval links that are linked together. The links can be small, medium, or large and can be used from chokers to lariats. Finally, the trace chain is made of thin wire that are either round or oval uniform links and looks great in princess and matinee lengths. Something to keep in mind of is that smaller link sizes suit shorter lengths, and bigger or chunkier links are better for longer lengths.

How to decide what chain length works for you

What’s your face shape?

When trying to choose the right chain length, it’s important to make sure it suits and complements your face shape. There are five face shapes – round, square, oval, diamond and heart shaped. Find your face shape and then you can choose the style and length of necklace for you. 

Round faces can be quite hard to dress because round or big shapes can make your face appear fatter and shorter than it is. If you have a round face, avoid shorter necklaces and round chain links, beads, or gemstones. Instead, pick a necklace that’s longer like a matinee or a rope necklace. Longer chains give the illusion that your face is slimmer and longer than they are.

On the flip side, square faces are better friends with round shapes but not squares. Avoid strong lines and instead go for rounder ones as they soften the angles of your face. Choose a princess necklace with circle and oval links. Oval faces are the most versatile face shapes and tend to suit everything. Ovals and diamonds shaped faces suit almost any chain length, but especially the collar, chokers and princess chains that are closer to the neck and chest. Heart shaped faces are slightly more difficult, but the general rule is to stick to short round chains to smooth out your sharp jaw and cheek bones, like chokers. 

What’s your body type?

Same as face shape, you should consider what your body type is like before decorating with chains. Let’s start with neck size. If you have quite a long neck, shorter chains like chokers and collars make it appear more elegant and longer. Whereas if you wear a choker with a slightly shorter neck, it can make it look a bit stubby and stunted. For shorter necks, we recommend a longer necklace that sits on the chest and even goes longer down the body.

Similar to neck size, if you have a short torso you should go for medium to long necklace chains and if you have a longer torso, you should choose a shorter chain. Height is also something you should consider as if you’re quite short, a long necklace like a rope can overtake your body and you could even get tangled in it.

What do you like to wear?

Finally, another factor to consider is what you’re wearing. This of course changes day to day and season to season but there are some good outfit tricks when it comes to chain lengths. As we’re in the Wintertime, there will be a lot more jumpers and turtlenecks. You should try and avoid short necklaces with these styles as they tend to cover and go up your neck. Instead choose a princess or matinee necklace over the top of this. For low or V-neck cuts, try and fill up the empty space that’s left over, like layers made up of chokers, princess, and matinee lengths.

Browse all our chain lengths and types.