18 vs. 20 Inch Necklace | Which Will Flatter Your Face, Body, and Style?

A necklace is an integral piece of jewelry in both women’s and men’s fashion; it adds character and personality to the wearer’s overall appearance. While shopping for necklaces can be super exciting, your choice of necklace style and length can entirely make or break your outfit.

With so much pressure put on a necklace’s length, it becomes crucial to learn the basics of choosing the most flattering length for you and your body. Luckily, we’re here to give you all the information.

Below, we’re going to cover all the ins and outs of choosing the right necklace length for you, so let’s begin the 18 vs. 20-inch necklace guide.

18 vs. 20-Inch Necklaces for Women

Choosing the right necklace whether it’s a mother & daughter gift, or you’re buying it for yourself, has many levels to it, and we’re going to be helping you choose between two of these: the 18-inch(Princess) and the 20-inch (Matinee).

Step 1: Understand How the Sizes Work

To help you make the best choice, let’s check how the necklaces’ sizes work first.

Size Standards

Within the jewelry industry, women’s necklace lengths are standardly measured in inches and come, for the most part, in even numbers.

However, a necklace chain can be cut in any length. The standard sizes for women’s necklaces are 14, 16, 18, 20, 22, 24, 30, and 35 inches. While this post discusses the pros and cons of 18 and 20-inch necklaces, you can take a look at the similar ‘14 vs.16-inch Necklace‘ and ‘16 vs. 18-inch Necklace‘ posts we shared earlier.

To measure the chain length of a necklace, you can use one of two ways. With the first one, you open up and lay the pendant-free necklace flat to measure its length.

Alternatively, you can measure the clasped length of the chain and then multiply that number by two.

Necklace Resting Position

The first step in choosing the best chain necklace length is visualizing where that necklace sits on your body.

The 18-inch is the most popular length choice for women and sits elegantly on the clavicle of an average female body. Alternatively, the 20-inch will leave the necklace sitting just below the collarbone.

beautiful woman wearing rings, earrings and necklaces

Step 2: Body Metrics

There’s more to choosing the perfect necklace length than meets the eye. By now, you’re already familiar with how each length might sit on your neck, but that’s not all. You’ll need to look at different aspects and body measurements to decide which necklace length is the one for you.

While we discussed earlier how the necklace should fit on an average woman’s body, it may look different on you. So we’re going to give you some styling tips and tricks depending on your face shape, body type, neck dimensions, and height.

young woman wearing glasses, hat and jewelry

Face Shape

Necklaces can play a huge part in framing your face and accentuating your best features. There are six main face shapes: oval, round, triangle, heart, square, and diamond.

Round faces are best complemented by long necklaces and matching earrings; the extended V-shape works on slimming down the face. If you have a round face, you should probably stay clear of the 18-inch, as it’ll make your face appear even rounder.

Opt for shorter necklaces if you have a long face and would like to soften or broaden its appearance. Additionally, chockers and short necklaces look great on heart-shaped faces, as they balance the narrow chin out to create an illusion of fullness.

Oval-shaped faces are the most versatile and look great in any necklace length, 18 or 20 inches.

Body Type

Your figure is perhaps the most important deciding factor. Usually, where your necklace ends is where all the attention is directed, the focal point. So, if you wish to divert attention from a certain area of your body, avoid necklaces that end there.

Women with smaller busts should opt for long, layered types of necklace chains as they beautifully complement their figure. On the contrary, full-figured women should avoid longer necklaces and opt for 18 to 22-inch ones; these sit higher on the body and won’t hang awkwardly like the longer ones.

Neck Measurement

Not all necks were created equal. We’ve mentioned how the 18 and 20-inch necklaces sit on an average woman’s body, but that may not necessarily be the case with you. Depending on whether you have a thinner or thicker neck, the necklaces can sit respectively lower or higher.

The only way to be certain is to measure your neck. You can do that in many ways, but the easiest is to use a soft measuring tape. Once you have your neck size ready, add four inches to it to achieve the 18-inch look. Similarly, add six inches for the 20-inch look.

Matinee necklaces do a great job in complementing short, wide necks; they make them appear longer and thinner. However, Princess necklaces look great on almost all neck shapes and sizes.


Your height is another important factor in choosing your perfect necklace length. As a general rule, shorter women are best suited for shorter necklaces, average-height ones can rock almost all lengths, but taller women look best in longer necklaces.

To put this in numbers, women who are 5’4″ or shorter shine best in 16 to 20-inch necklaces. 5’4″ and taller women can go for any size. Women who are 5’7″ and taller look great in longer necklaces or chains.

So, going back to our main question, both 18 and 20-inch necklaces will look great on you regardless of your height.

beautiful woman wearing necklaces

Step 3: Styling

Because necklaces can make or break an outfit, it’s crucial that you consider the rest of the look when choosing a necklace.

18 vs. 20-Inch Necklaces for Men

Jewelry adds style and personality to a man’s overall look and wardrobe. Necklaces for men are one of those pieces that have the power to transform your entire look. While the chain style receives a lot of attention, the length of the chain is equally important.

Step 1: Understand How the Sizes Work

Now, let’s check how the sizes work for men.

Size Standards

Similar to women’s necklaces, men’s standard necklace lengths are measured in inches and come, for the most part, in even numbers. Again, a necklace chain can be cut in any length outside those standard sizes.

a portrait of a stylish young man

Men’s chain lengths are broadly divided into three categories: short-length necklaces, mid-length necklaces, and long necklaces categories.

Necklace Resting Position

On an average-sized man, the 18-inch necklace should sit on the base of the neck. However, the most common choice for average men is the 20-inch one, which extends to the collarbone.

Step 2: Body Metrics

Face and body shapes matter when it comes to choosing the perfect necklace length for men. Luckily, almost the same rules that applied to women’s necklaces apply to men’s. So while tall men can go for any chain length, shorter men should stay clear of longer chain-style necklaces.

Moreover, men with rounder faces should avoid short necklaces and choose longer ones that will balance out their facial structure. On the other hand, men with long and heart-shaped faces are safe to wear shorter necklaces. Finally, men with oval-shaped faces can rock whatever chain length they desire.

Step 3: Styling

Both 18 and 20-inch men’s necklaces belong to the short necklace category. These necklaces are best styled with clothes that grant the neck sufficient exposure. This can include V-necks and button-up shirts.

18-Inch Necklaces

18-inch necklace chains are the male equivalent of a choker necklace. This necklace falls perfectly right below your Adam’s apple or at the base of your neck, depending on the length and width of your neck. While this size may be uncomfortable for most adult men, it’s perfect if you’re looking to show your entire chain.

20-Inch Necklaces

The 20-inch necklace is perfect if you’re looking for a short chain that won’t suffocate you. Ideally, this necklace will fall somewhere between your collarbone and where the second shirt button would be.

These necklaces can be worn inside or outside your top and even look great on the turn-down collar.

a man wearing necklaces

Bottom Line

To sum up, there are many factors that come into play when choosing the right necklace. Ideally, you should be looking for a necklace length that flatters your face, body, and style.

While following this guide will give you a more cohesive, put-together look, the world is still your canvas. You can go with whatever style your heart desires, even if it goes against the rules, there’s no “correct chain length”.

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