How to Choose the Right Length for Your Chain

Jewelry can add sophistication or fun to your outfits. Choosing the right piece is critical. It shouldn’t detract from the outfit, and it shouldn’t overwhelm the look. Historically, necklaces have been used to signify a man’s power, status, rank, and wealth. Men’s gold chains have had religious, cultural, and societal importance, too.

Regardless of why a modern man wears a necklace, it will only add to their wardrobe if it is the right length. With this in mind, here are a few tips to consider when choosing a necklace when you’re heading out.

What Are the Standard Lengths of Chains for Men?


Men can choose from a wide variety of chain widths and lengths. The most common thickness is between 2 and 6 millimeters. Chain width is typically linked to how it will be worn. A thinner 2-millimeter chain can be worn on its own. When a chain is thicker, between 6 and 10 mm, it is typically worn outside the shirt with a pendant. Anything larger than 10 mm is a statement piece in and of itself.

18 Inches

An 18-inch chain is for men with a smaller neck size. This is typically the shortest length for men that most jewelers sell. An 18-inch Cuban link chain will be set fairly tight around the neck. It is a good option if you want everyone to see your chain without it being blocked by your shirt collar.

20 Inches

The most common chain length for men is 20 inches. At this length, the chain will fall at the collarbone. If you wear a button-down shirt, the chain should fall between the first and second buttons. It can be worn inside or outside the shirt based on your preference.

30 Inches

A 30-inch chain is the longest standard length for men. At this length, the chain will sit right below the sternum. These chains should be worn outside of the shirt. An example of this would be a custom gold chain with a pendant.

Factors to Consider When Sizing


When you choose your chain, you want something that will tell your story. A good accessory will not only make you look good but will also represent where you are in life’s journey or remind you of something special from the past. There are a lot of different factors to consider when determining what story you want your chain to tell.

Width and Length

When shopping for a chain necklace, most men prefer lengths around 20 inches and widths between 2 and 6 mm. This sweet spot ensures a well-fitting and aesthetically pleasing chain without being gaudy. If considering a pendant, aim for lengths between 22 and 24 inches with a width of 4 to 6 mm.

There are no one-size-fits-all rules. The chain’s thickness should vary based on its intended purpose. For a pendant-holding chain, choose a thickness proportionate to the pendant, avoiding a mismatch like a super tiny pendant on a massively thick 12 mm chain.

What about the style?

Rope chains provide a solid option for those wanting a subtle yet elegant look. Thin and barely noticeable, they complement a crisp T-shirt or a well-pressed button-down without making a loud statement.

The fishbone chain style, named for its resemblance to the herring fishbone structure, offers a bold look. Dating back to ancient Egypt, it pairs well with various styles, making it suitable for rooftop happy hours, gallery openings, or when aiming for a not-at-all-understated appearance.

Figaro chains present a bold option with alternating links running through the necklace’s length. Available in different options and thicknesses, they are more fragile, making them unsuitable for beach outings or sports like pickleball. It is ideal for more subdued environments like cocktail dinners and the theater.

Your Body Type

Thinner individuals may look better in shorter chains, considering their smaller necks and chests. Those with a more athletic build might opt for lengths between 18 and 20 inches, enhancing their streamlined physique. Muscular men may choose a chain around 20 inches or longer to balance out their bulkier frame.

The Right Chain with the Right Outfit

Cuban link chains are one of the most popular options in men’s fashion. They can add an edge to just about any outfit. Wear them with a casual T-shirt, jeans, or a tailored suit. The key to successfully using a Cuban link chain or different types of chains is to match them with other accessories and your clothing. A Cuban link chain will work with various colors, styles, and textures of clothing.

Men’s necklaces can be worn with casual shirts in two ways. Tucking it in makes a person look slightly more professional, and keeping it untucked has a casual feel. While wearing a dress shirt, unbutton the first button to show off more of the neck and accent the necklace.

Good Jewelry Should Make You Look Natural


Men’s jewelry and underwear are never the centerpiece of the outfit. Jewelry should make you look natural. It should feel like something you’ve been wearing for decades, something you got from your grandfather, who got it from his father. There are gaudy necklaces, but these are the exception instead of the rule.

Think about the shape of your face when choosing a chain. If you have a round face, a longer V-shaped chain will work. A shorter or choker-style chain may be in your best interest if you have a thinner, more pointy face.

Color matters as well. A gold chain does not necessarily need to be yellow gold. White gold or rose gold may work better with your skin complexion.

The Takeaway

Trends in men’s fashion continue to evolve. However, precious metal chains will continue to be popular. Remember, whether you’re purchasing one for yourself or getting it as a gift for another person, it’s not just a piece of jewelry. It’s an investment, versatile fashion statement, and identity expression that can last a lifetime.