Choker Necklace Guide: How to Wear and Choose the Best Choker For You

Alicia Briggs | October 23, 2023

Choker necklaces are one of the most popular necklace designs throughout history. However, few necklace styles are as polarizing as a choker, with many people wondering if they can pull off this fashionable style. In this guide, we’ll cover what a choker necklace is, how to choose the best choker type for you, and how to style it. Shop VRAI for a choker necklace with lab-grown diamonds.

What Is a Choker Necklace?

A choker necklace is a tight necklace that snugly encircles the neck. Chokers are usually between 14 and 16 inches and are the shortest necklace type.

What Does a Choker Symbolize?

Chokers don’t have a particular meaning. Chokers have been worn by numerous types of people throughout history, in varying fashions. Chokers have been associated with royalty, political activism, art, sexuality, and punk rock.

History of Choker Necklaces

Chokers have a long and rich history dating back to 2500 BC. The first known chokers were made from gold and worn by the Sumerians. They were also beloved in Egypt, and commonly worn by the Pharaoh.

Chokers have long been worn by royalty, especially in the 16th and 17th centuries. By the Victorian Era, chokers were popular accessories for royalty, aristocrats, and other high-class members of society. Queen Victoria is largely credited for the rise in popularity.

During the French Revolution, ribbon chokers were commonly worn by prostitutes. Manet famously painted a woman wearing a black ribbon choker in 1863, titled “Olympia,” a term for prostitutes. During the same period, red ribbon chokers were worn as a political statement. They represented the people who were killed by guillotine during the revolution.

In the late 1800s, Princess Alexandra of Wales became one of the most influential figures in defining choker styles that are still worn today (pearl, lace, velvet, etc.). She famously wore wide-collar chokers to cover a scar on her neck. This sparked a larger trend of wearing chokers throughout society that lasted for decades.

During the Art Deco era and the 1940s, chokers were known as “dog collars.” They commonly featured diamonds, beading, and other intricate details.

By the 1960s and ‘70s, choker necklaces took on the boho look of the era. Leather, fabric, or metal chokers became popular, as did patterned and colorful chokers.

Nineties grunge and punk rock brought us tattoo chokers - netted black chokers made from plastic. Black chokers with a single pendant were also popular. These choker styles lasted through Y2K, recently regaining popularity.

Types of Choker Necklaces

Below you’ll find the primary types of choker necklaces available today.

Tennis Choker

Tennis chokers feature a continuous string of connected diamonds. Our lab-created diamond Tennis chokers are suitable for both everyday wear and special occasions. You can also find this choker style made from pearls.

Pendant Chokers

Pendant chokers have a single band or chain with a pendant in the middle, such as our lab grown diamond pendant. Pendant necklaces can also come with a pearl or another gemstone.

Statement Chokers

Statement chokers are particularly bold - wider, more colorful, or heavily detailed, like patterned or lace chokers. Chokers with multiple large diamonds, like our 35-carat Illuminate Choker, embody a statement choker.

Tattoo Chokers

Tattoo chokers are usually made from plastic, with a netted look that resembles a tattoo.

Fabric Chokers

Fabric chokers are often made from lace, satin, ribbon, velvet, or leather. They typically feature one strip of fabric in varying widths. They may be adorned with a pendant or bow.

Diamond Choker Necklace

A choker diamond necklace often has a chain adorned with one or several lab-grown diamonds, like VRAI’s Arc Necklace.

Chain Chokers

Chain chokers feature a single chain (typically gold or silver). The chain can be thin, wide, textured, braided, or adorned with charms or stones. They are perfect for layering.

How to Know What Size of Choker to Get

Chokers should be fitted, but they shouldn’t be so tight that it's uncomfortable. To find your ideal choker size, wrap a tape measurer comfortably but snugly around the base of your neck. Add two inches to the measurement and that’s your choker length.

How to Choose a Choker

With numerous chokers available, it’s difficult to know which choker suits you. The best type of choker depends on your style, face shape, and preferences. Use the steps below to buy your perfect choker.

1. Consider Your Face Shape & Neck

Your face shape and neck width will determine the most flattering choker for you. Fuller faces and wider necks look best in narrower chokers. Heart-shaped faces and strong jawlines can pull off any width.

If you want to balance a narrower, oval face, or a thin neck, consider wider bands or chunky chains.

2. Find Your Ideal Choker Width

Experiment with different widths to find the most flattering and comfortable choker for you. Consider where and how you plan to wear your choker.

Wide chokers make a statement on their own, but could feel uncomfortable for everyday wear. Thin chokers are easy to layer and wear daily.

3. Select Your Favorite Material

Chokers are available in different fabrics, metals, and gems. Narrow down what materials are most comfortable for you to wear. Also, take into consideration what colors look best on you when choosing the material.

4. Assess Your Style & Lifestyle

Chokers can be grunge, elegant, gothic, boho, vintage, elegant, and more. Pick the choker type that aligns best with your personal style.

Your lifestyle also informs your ideal choker. Do you want to wear your choker every day or for specific occasions? Choose the style that suits your preferences.

How to Wear a Choker

If you want to wear a choker, consider the following tips to ensure your choker looks stylish and flattering.

1. Let the Occasion Determine the Choker Style

Consider where you’re wearing your choker. Certain choker styles are better for formal events, like a diamond choker, while some styles are more casual, like a chain choker.

Other chokers make a statement, like wide ribbon or chunky chain chokers. These are fun to wear to a concert, but may not be as suitable for the office.

2. Match Your Outfit

Outfits with lower necklines will look better with chokers than outfits with high, busy necklines. Choose fabrics, prints, or colors that match the details of your choker.

Check that the style of your choker also compliments your outfit. Your outfit and choker can contrast, but don’t wear a choker with an outfit that clashes in color or style. For example, a gothic velvet collar choker may not pair well with a pastel, polka dot sundress.

Regardless of whether you choose to match or contrast your outfit and choker, it should look cohesive and balanced.

3. Consider Jewelry & Layers

The right jewelry will complete your look. Be especially mindful of what earrings you choose. Smaller earrings that frame your face and choker will look better than bigger, statement earrings. Longer earrings might touch or tangle with your choker.

You can also layer necklaces for a creative, fashion-forward look.

When Should You Wear a Choker

You can wear a choker anytime. These versatile necklaces have a variation suitable for any occasion. Wear a dazzling Tennis Choker to a party, a tattoo choker to a rock show, or a chain choker to run errands.

Best Outfits to Wear With a Choker

The choker style will determine the best outfit to wear. Chokers look best when worn with lower necklines, so always consider the neckline of your outfit. Strapless or v-neck dresses, and plunge, square, or sweetheart necklines all work well with a choker.

Choose an outfit that leaves space between your choker and your chest. This will elongate your neck and balance your proportions, no matter the outfit.

What Not to Wear With a Choker

There are certain necklines that you should not wear a choker with. Avoid wearing a choker with a turtleneck or any high neckline that might touch the choker. If your neckline is too high, it will overpower or cover up the choker.

Choker Necklace FAQs

Read on for any remaining questions about chokers, below.

Who Should Not Wear a Choker Necklace?

If your neck is both short and wide, or you have a fuller face, chokers may not be the most flattering necklace for you. Chokers can shorten your neck and emphasize the fullness of your face.

Is a Choker Unprofessional?

A choker is not unprofessional. If you want to wear a choker to work, consider a simple and subtle choker, like a classic gold chain choker or pendant choker.

Are Chokers Still in Style?

Chokers remain in style today. Today’s chokers have a contemporary twist on historical designs.

Should a Choker Be Tight?

Your choker should be tight, but it shouldn’t be so tight that it impacts your breathing, or squeezes your skin.

Should Short People Wear Chokers?

Short people can wear chokers. For chokers, the width of your neck is more important than the length. If you have a shorter neck, opt for a simple, thinner choker to elongate it.

Are Choker Necklaces Flattering?

Chokers are universally flattering, especially on people who have medium to narrow necks or heart-shaped faces.

virtual appointment with diamond expert meeting with potential customers over a call on a computer
virtual appointment with diamond expert meeting with potential customers over a call on a computer

Consult with a diamond expert

Speak with our diamond experts and enjoy:

  • Personalized guidance to select your ring
  • In-depth diamond 4C education
  • Exclusive in-store fittings or virtual try-ons
  • Custom design options

Speak with our diamond experts and enjoy:

  • Personalized guidance to select your ring
  • In-depth diamond 4C education
  • Exclusive in-store fittings or virtual try-ons
  • Custom design options