Chokers have long been a fashion staple, but they can be tricky to style if you’re not sure how to wear a choker necklace. The close-fitting necklace has a strong association with punk and grunge, but given the choker necklace’s history, you might be surprised to find just how versatile it can be.
Women have been wearing choker necklaces for centuries, representing both style and protection. Some of the earliest choker necklaces are traced back to ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia’s Sumer empire, where women believed these necklaces kept them safe and gave them power.
Also worn in Western high societies, chokers were seen in Renaissance portraits showing women with close-fitting necklaces worn high on the throat. One prominent figure known for wearing a choker necklace is Alexandra of Denmark, the wife of King Edward VII, who purportedly wore a choker to hide a scar.
It’s also worth noting that the choker necklace is not to be confused with the collar necklace. A choker fits snugly around the neck, usually around the middle, and can be accentuated with a pendant or charm. On the other hand, a collar necklace, also called “collier,” can be worn loosely around the neck such that it sits above the collarbone.
How to Wear a Choker Necklace the Right Way
There are different ways to wear a choker necklace, and it doesn’t have to be a head-scratcher if you remember these simple tips:
1. Consider Your Neckline
When planning what type and style of choker to wear, factor in the neckline of the top you’re wearing. Chokers that are on the wider side pair well with strapless or single strap tops, v-neck or off-shoulder necklines, and ultra-sheer blouses. The exposed skin will prevent the look from appearing stuffy. On the other hand, slim chokers can be worn with higher necklines, such as boat neck or crew neck tops.
Take into consideration the color of your neckline as well. Matching the colors is a simple way to create a unified look. For example, don a sterling silver choker with blue gemstones over a cerulean top for an elegantly cohesive outfit.
2. Mind Your Balance and Focal Point
There are many ways to style a choker, but keep in mind the focal point of your outfit. The neck is an extension of your face and connects with the torso, so the eye is naturally drawn to it when accessorized. A choker necklace is inevitably an attention-grabber, so try to keep your earrings small and simple (if you’ll be wearing any).
You can still wear multiple earrings if you have more than one piercing, but stud earrings and short drop earrings complement chokers best. If you have a striking choker necklace, like this sterling silver choker with rainbow-hued cubic zirconia stones, try to match the base metal tone to maintain a cohesive look.
3. Experiment with Lengths and Layers
Don’t let the previous tip scare you! You can still wear other accessories if you know how to style a choker correctly. Ultra-slim choker necklaces are perfect for layering because alone, they are relatively discrete and lightweight.
Stacking several thread-thin chokers of similar colors can achieve a more relaxed look than a single wide choker necklace. Thin to medium width choker necklaces also work well with lariat necklaces. These are typically slim chain necklaces that are worn by creating a type of knot with a pendant that drapes over the chest.
What to Avoid When Styling a Choker Necklace
When learning how to wear a choker necklace, what you don’t do is equally important as what you do. You can’t go wrong, even if you just avoid these two pitfalls.
The Name is Not Literal
Just because it’s called a choker necklace does not mean it should feel restrictive or uncomfortable. A choker is meant to sit lightly on the neck, close enough to be right on top of the skin without constricting the breath. A good rule of thumb to follow is to ensure that your skin does not bulge out from the sides of the choker, yet it doesn’t hang loosely and slip down when you move.
The charm of a choker necklace is its striking sophistication while seeming effortless. If you’re still getting used to wearing this type of necklace, go for an adjustable choker that lets you tweak the fit according to your comfort level.
Over-Accessorizing Leads to Overkill
Because choker necklaces naturally grab attention, avoid wearing other statement accessories close to it. It’s best to leave your dangling earrings and chunky necklaces at home, as these can distract from the choker and make the overall look appear stuffy. Slim chokers can be layered with other ultra-thin necklaces, but wide chokers are best left alone as the focal point of the face and torso area.
We have one last helpful “rule” for wearing a choker — one that trumps everything else we’ve said: Wear what makes you feel fabulous. That’s what matters most in fashion: that it makes you feel beautiful and confident. Get creative, build your style, and find your aesthetic.