Tips to Build a #NeckMess

Or a Bracelet Stack!

Happy day, reader dear!

This post is hoping to find you and yours all well. In this strange time, I expect there will be a lot more time at home for many of us. There will certainly be more work at home for me. My 88 year old mother lives with us, and her health takes precedence over my wants to be out and about. I’m trying to look on the bright side. Ideally, I should be able to get ahead on posts and get some stored up for when life returns to a more normal state of flow.

I want to thank Tamara (@tlhmimi) for inspiring this post. A few weeks ago, when I posted this pic on Instagram, said she loved the combination and asked if I could describe how I put it together. That took some thinking, because pulling together looks is part science and part second nature, so I had to think about what I’m thinking, even though I’m not. Does that make any sense at all? Maybe it’s like asking a goldfish how to swim!

Here’s the pic from Insta. (I added the link in case you want to see the head to toe look. And while you’re there, please hit the follow button! Or mash the button as they say here in my corner of the South. Why one mashes a button, I still have NO idea…)

I looked back through my selfies to discover that I’ve been wearing a lot of neck-messes recently, probably dating from the time I started posting them to my Spring/Summer 2020 Inspo Pinterest board! Pearls figure heavily in my #neckmess choices, as do beads. They speak to the feminine piece of my personality style without being dainty and precious. (Especially when worn en masse!) Now if dainty is your jam, feel free to use these same tips to style a more delicate #neckmess! You do you! I’m not sure the looks below with the longer strands qualify for #neckmess status, but I’m including them here because the same thought process applies!

The trick is to create harmony AND interest. How do you create harmony without getting too matchy, and interest without jarring? We’re aiming for a look that has thrown-together ease, right? To find that balance, let’s think in thirds. And interest? Well, although humans find symmetry appealing, the human eye lingers on (is more interested in) odd numbers, so think in threes and fives: for example, three necklaces, or five bracelets. Now that those basics are sorted, lets get combining!


Commonly, jewelry metals have one of three finishes: Shiny, Brushed or Matte. (Any can be textured, and are often combined.) Brushed and Matte finishes lend themselves better to a Mess since they have a more laid-back look than high-shine. Also, Brushed and Matte finishes with different undertones play together more nicely than their high-shine counterparts. I think it’s one of the reasons I love pearls; their soft luster harmonizes so well with a variety of metals!

Images from Premier Designs.


When mixing metals, I aim for about 2/3 of one and 1/3 of the other, say 2/3 pewter and 1/3 brass. This gives the eye a base and highlight instead of the two competing for attention as they would in a 50/50 combination. With less, as in a pile of silver with one or two gold pieces, the gold looks like the odd man out. If the whole metal mixing makes you uncomfortable, you likely score highly in the Classic Personality type and a #neckmess may not be for you. Just skip it! If you really do want to try, lower your stress level by looking for pieces that combine the metals for you. This one by Premier Designs has been retired, but many jewelers still have it, and I’ve seen it on Ebay as well. #notanad

Shape and Size

I look for common shapes and textures to help tie the look together. Here, the round pendant mirrors the shape of the pearls; the chains have rounded links, and the ring worn as a pendant is also rounded in shape. Even the poke-y cross has a round stone and beading.

I know this seems like a LOT to think about. I don’t, it just kind of happens. I am glad I had to think this through and try and explain my thought process. Now that you know some basics, it will take some playing around to find out what works for you. My nature seeks harmony, and this is one way it expresses itself. Your nature might prefer something jarring, and that’s very cool! It’s just not me… Please let me know in the comments below if I have succeeded in my explanation, or simply managed to muddy the waters! And make sure to tag me @closetplayimage if you post a #neckmess on Instagram. I’d love to see yours!

Stylishly yours,

PS: If there’s a style topic you’d like me to tackle, do let me know!



    Liz, I’ve never tackled this but a sparkle necklaces with pearls would be very me. I may be daring and attempt to make one. Thank you for your creative ideas!!

  • Andrea

    Really helpful in terms of some guidelines as to what is more likely to work. I’ll be applying your thoughts to my stacked bracelets. Some days these work and some they don’t! Maybe on a Saturday I might try the neckmess!!! Stay well and keep smiling!

    • closetplayadmin

      Thanks for the visit, Andrea! It’s lovely to “see” you! I’m appreciating virtual interaction more than I did two weeks ago, that’s for sure! Glad to be of help. And do post your #neckmess and tag me. I’d love to see it!

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