Embracing the Choker: Styles, Tips, and Trends

Choker necklaces, a timeless fashion staple, have made an impressive comeback, evolving far beyond their historical roots to become a symbol of contemporary style. Tracing their origins back to ancient civilizations, chokers have adorned the necks of everyone from Egyptian royalty to Victorian elites, symbolizing both status and rebellion at various points in history.

Today, they embody a fusion of elegance and edge, seamlessly fitting into the diverse wardrobe of the modern fashion enthusiast. Let’s explore everything there is to know about necklaces, including their rich history, diverse styles, and how they’ve become an indispensable part of today’s fashion landscape.

What is a Choker Necklace?

Choker Necklace

A choker necklace is a type of jewelry that fits snugly around the neck. Unlike longer necklaces that hang down the chest, chokers sit close to the base of the neck. They come in various materials like velvet, plastic, beads, leather, and metal.

Chokers have been worn for thousands of years, representing royalty, fashion trends, and subculture identities. Their styles range widely, from delicate and elegant, often with jewels or lace, to bold and modern designs featuring metal or unique materials.

Recently, chokers have become popular again, known for their versatility and statement-making ability in both casual and formal wear. They fit tightly around the neck and their varied designs make them suitable for many different outfits and styles.

What’s the Origin and History of Choker Necklaces?

woman standing near white painted wall

Choker necklaces have a history that dates back thousands of years, crossing different cultures and time periods. Ancient Egyptians first wore them as symbols of protection, power, and status. In ancient Mesopotamia and the Indus Valley, chokers also served as both decorative items and signs of wealth.

During the Middle Ages, chokers held religious and political importance. In the Renaissance, they became fashionable among the elite, often decorated with pearls and gems.

In the 18th and 19th centuries, chokers became popular in European fashion. During the French Revolution, women wore red ribbon chokers as a tribute to guillotine victims. The Victorian era, with Queen Victoria as a fan, saw chokers become more elegant, featuring pearls, lace, and velvet.

In the 20th century, chokers represented rebellion in goth and punk subcultures. They made a big comeback in the 1990s mainstream fashion, symbolizing youth and edginess.

Today, chokers come in many styles, from delicate and refined to bold and modern, showcasing their rich history from ancient status symbols to trendy fashion pieces.

What Do Choker Necklaces Mean?

Gold Floral Choker
Gold Floral Choker. See it here.

This might seem like a strange question, but many people often ask what a choker necklace means and if there is some symbolism in wearing a choker.

While the new generation of choker necklaces is more daring and sleeker than ever before, this jewelry trend seems to have been revived with controversial opinions surrounding them. Some consider the choker necklace to be a bit “too” sexy and wearing one sends a promiscuous message.

Why do some associate this meaning when choker necklaces have been around for so long and what do choker necklaces actually mean?

The shocking and yet obvious answer is a choker necklace is simply a pretty necklace. They are usually fitted close to the neck and are a cute way to show off a slender neck. The meaning of a choker necklace is no different from a pendant necklace or any other piece of jewelry that you adorn yourself with. Nothing more and nothing less.

The reason that many think choker necklaces are provocative items is that they were once worn by women to symbolize their profession as prostitutes. This brings us to the next question:

Does This Mean That Choker Necklaces are Bad?

Victorian Style Lace Choker
Victorian Style Choker. See it here.

And should I not wear a choker necklace? No! In fact, the history of this necklace is a long and varied one. Yes, they have been linked to the idea of promiscuity but they’ve also been worn by royalty, celebrities, ballerinas, and political activists.

In the nineties, choker necklaces were worn on the red carpet and by the mainstream, much as they are today, but they were also favored by alternative subcultures. This resurrected the idea that chokers were worn for a sexual aspect rather than just for fashion. With the way the Internet reacts to trends, it was unavoidable that the idea that a choker necklace equals submissive/provocative ideas would have been turned into a meme.

If you’re still asking yourself “Should I wear a choker necklace?” then compare them to so many other articles of clothing and jewelry that you wouldn’t bat an eyelid at wearing. Red lipstick, miniskirts, leopard print, fish nets, high heels, body con dresses, and anklets. Any thoughts on these everyday wardrobe pieces? Well, you may not wear all these in the same outfit but if you do that’s your choice and no one else should weigh in on that.

…So the bottom line?

Whether or not you wear a choker necklace totally depends on your preference and style. It is a fashion choice and a gorgeous one at that!

So, now that that’s cleared, let’s move on to the most important section:

How to Wear a Choker Necklace

18K Gold Filled Vintage Choker Necklace
Gold-Filled Vintage Choker. See it here.

There is no secret way or formula to wearing a choker necklace but there are some good tips to follow. When properly styled a choker necklace is appropriate for all ages and can be worn day or night to any occasion. Follow our simple guide for styling a choker necklace whether you’re just starting out on this jewelry journey or you’re a seasoned veteran looking out for what’s going to be the latest thing in 2018.

Choker Tip 1: Smaller earrings complement chokers

The top tip that’s always best to follow is to keep your earrings on the smaller side when you wear a choker. As your neck is an extension of your face, really large earrings are likely to touch a choker necklace.

This isn’t to say that you can’t wear multiple earrings or something with high impact but large statement earrings may detract from the choker and frame your face in quite a boxy way. So when choosing earrings to go with your choker, make sure it isn’t overkilled!

Choker Tip 2: Factor in your neckline

Dangling Small Coins Choker Necklace
Minimalist Dangling Small Coins Choker. See it here.

Another thing to consider when properly styling a choker necklace is the neckline you’re going to wear with it. A crew neckline in a matching color is a discreet way to pair your choker with your outfit.

An obvious example of this is a black velvet choker with a simple black t-shirt. This will look like an extension of your top and appear much more understated.

Choker Tip 3: Layer your chokers

Opal Choker Necklace
Opal Layering Choker. See it here.

Layering lots of simple thin chokers is a great way to elevate any outfit. Chose a metal color and then an accent color to make a detailed and well-thought-out neck party ensemble. A good rule of thumb to follow for properly styling a choker necklace is to wear thinner ones during the day and layering them up. If you’re heading out in the evening choose a single thicker choker in midnight blue or red for something a little more interesting than plain black.

For a more unusual layered look, pair your choker with a lariat necklace. What’s a lariat necklace you ask? It’s a necklace that has no clasp and you tie a knot with the jewelry itself. Lariat also means lasso to give you an image of how these necklaces appear. Part of the necklace drapes down to give a pendant illusion. Lariat necklaces can be worn in a choker fashion with a tighter knot and a longer chain. If you’re off to a sophisticated formal do, you can wear a lariat necklace back to front so that the long part trails down your back.

Wear a layered choker, lariat, and choker combination with a backless dress or top for a head-turning combination.

The Best Chokers for Your Style

Black Stretch Velvet Choker
Black Stretch Velvet Choker. See it here.

The best chokers for beginners are simple ones that can be layered subtly and aren’t too showy or obvious. If you want to start out with something classic there is nothing that compares to the simple velvet choker.

The best part? You can make your own or easily find them at almost any accessories store at a very low price.

If, however, you already think this style is over worn then check some of the trendiest choker styles out there.

Choker Style 1 – Easily Layered Chains

Box Chain Choker Necklace
18k Gold-Plated Box Chain Choker. See it here.

Go for simple layered chains. For example, check out this handmade multi-layered chain choker from Vanessa Mooney which is a great starter choker necklace. The three layers are two chains and woven leather which are joined by one clasp. This three-in-one necklace means you can pop this on without having to arrange the chains or buy multiple necklaces to achieve the look.

Choker Style 2: Try a Bandana Choker

Suede Bandana Choker
Suede Bandana Choker. See it here.

If you jumped on the choker trend early, it’s likely you’ve already tried some simple chains or a velvet choker. If so, a choker such as this Steve Madden necklace would be perfect for you. The material and metal combination elevates the classic bandanna with its floral print neckerchief.

Choker Style 3: Drape It Up

If you’re looking to take this trend to the next level then you must simply check out this choker from Annelise Michelson. It is an absolute showstopper. This choker is unlike anything that you’ll see in another shop window or online. Wear over a simple high-neck top to draw all the attention to this unbelievably cool necklace.

Gold Vintage Chain Choker
Gold Vintage Chain Choker. See it here.

What started as a revivalist trend has evolved into entirely its own thing. Choker trends are more varied than ever before. See our favorite trends below, from nineties throwbacks to glamorous evening wear, there’s a trend to suit every neck and you’ll be living the choker life before you know it.

1. The nineties – the good old days – The tattoo and the gothic velvet chokers

90s Tattoo Choker Pack
90s Tattoo Choker Pack. See it here.

These nostalgic favorites are fun and great to wear whilst it’s summer. The nineties choker is usually 1-2cm thick and is perfect for everyday wear due to its casual nature. This also makes them perfect to pack for a festival or holiday getaway. The two that always come to mind are the classic gothic velvet choker attached with a charm and the tattoo necklace we all wanted.

Choose a colorful velvet choker to match your outfit or alternatively opt for a thicker one for an evening do. The original tattoo necklace is a subtle way to add an edgy twist to everyday casual outfits and is perfect for weekend wear.

2. Ribbons and Bows

Bow Lace Choker
Bow Lace Choker. See it here.

Speaking of nineties trends, ribbons and bows are the next steps from the nineties choker trends. Delicate and very feminine and a nod to the ballerinas that popularized the choker, this style of the choker is another example where you can make your own version.

The ribbon can be thicker and mimic the look of a velvet choker. Alternatively, a thin ribbon tied in a bow is a cute and sweet way to embrace this trend. Choose a wrap-style bow to add just enough edgy contrast to this soft feminine look. Check out this collection of ribbon and bow chokers

3. Chunky Chains

Chunky Chain Necklace
Chunky Chain Choker. See it here.

Sometimes you’ve got to go big or go home and these chunky chains are for the maximalists among you. Layered jewelry is so easy to wear but a chunky chain is a refreshing change from the minimalist jewelry that’s so popular now. The all-metal and no-frills give a clean finish to these choker necklaces which is ideal for the maximalist craving something different.

4. Crystals

Moonstone Crystal Choker Necklace
Moonstone Crystal Choker. See it here.

This is tipped to be the next big choker trend in 2018. Chokers have been predominantly worn in the day but now, as they are becoming jewelry box staples, choker fans are looking for something they can wear in the evening.

Enter the embellished and crystal-encrusted choker necklace. A glitzy choker necklace drenched in crystals or diamonds is an elegant way to play up this trend. Wear your crystal choker with a simple straight-down evening dress to give you the wow factor on any glamorous occasion.

Where to Buy Choker Necklaces

When buying choker necklaces, Etsy and Amazon both provide great options with their own unique benefits.

  • Etsy is famous for its handmade, unique, and vintage items. It’s a great place to find chokers made by independent artists and designers. You can find a wide range of styles on Etsy, from bohemian to elegant. Many of these chokers use unusual materials and designs, and you often have the option to customize them. This makes Etsy ideal for those looking for unique or custom chokers.
  • Amazon offers a more traditional shopping experience, focusing on convenience and a wide selection. They have a large variety of choker necklaces from different brands and makers, covering everything from trendy, affordable styles to more luxurious, branded ones. Amazon is known for quick delivery, a lot of customer reviews, and an easy return process.

Wrapping Up

Now you know about the symbolism and meaning behind the choker necklace (plus a sneak peek at what trend is going to be huge in 2018), there’s nothing to hold you back from embracing the choker necklace.

These necklaces are sleek and super stylish and without a doubt, they will always come back into fashion. So maybe the next time you reach for that pendant necklace, stop and try swapping it for a choker instead.

Dani Rhys

Dani Rhys has worked as a writer and editor for over 15 years in the jewelry niche. She holds a Masters degree in Linguistics and Education. She has always been interested in expression through fashion and accessories, and her extensive experience in the field has made her a respected voice in jewelry trends and education. As the chief editor of Jewelry Shopping Guide, she not only leads the content strategy but also shares her insights through engaging articles. Her passion for storytelling is reflected in every piece she curates, exploring the intricate relationship between jewelry and personal identity.

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