Necklace layering — the trick fashionable people seem to pull off with such ease — is all about telling a story. A few delicate strands of gold wrapped around the neck, paired with a dainty script initial charm hanging mid-chest says "sentimental minimalist with an appreciation for finer things." A turquoise necklet of beads swaying alongside a cleavage-hitting gilded coin or shell indicates a wanderlust spirit and recalls a nostalgia for warmer days. Whereas a party of pearls, hammered metal shapes and mis-matched chains evokes an eclectic risk-taker with a penchant for finding treasures tucked away in off-the-beaten-path boutiques.
We do love a good neckline narrative, but it's not always easy to curate one that combines your favorite vintage finds, heirloom gems and abstract beads without looking like you're fresh off a Mardi Gras float. Things can get easily tangled up, especially for those looking to really make a statement — with unexpected, quirky-cool pairings — or to reach the jewelry mashup levels of maximalist role models like Leandra Medine. But fear not, because there are a few surefire way to guarantee that all your chains, shells and stones can be worn all at once.
For an elementary introduction into necklace layering, start by playing with length and sticking to one uniform chain style. When staggering the necklaces, make sure each one ends up laying neatly in its own spot so as to not overshadow the others. When you've gotten used to wearing multiple strands of metal at one time, then you can take things up a notch by mixing and matching the weights (combining thinner and thicker chains actually prevents tangling), textures and overall aesthetics of the chains. Begin with any style choker, then throw in a mid-length necklace with cutesy baubles and lastly polish the look off with a lariat or a longer, more elegant chain — perhaps pulled from your mother or grandmother's archives.
Once you've mastered the basics, then you can go full-out and pile everything on. At this point, you should feel comfortable mingling varying shapes and lengths and can embrace the blending of metals and anything sparkly. This is where the fun happens and where all your chunky medallions, crystals and beads unite in perfect harmony.
Now that you've learned to pile like a pro, shop 21 necklaces to layer in the gallery below.
Please note: Occasionally, we use affiliate links on our site. This in no way affects our editorial decision-making.