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Last Updated on July 15, 2021
The choker necklace had a surge of popularity in the 1990s before tapering off, but it’s never really gone out of style, it’s just been dormant. Chokers have made a strong comeback in recent years thanks to young starlets such as Ariana Grande and Kylie Jenner, both on the red carpet and the streets.
We fully stand by the resurgence of this throwback style, as it sparks our 90s nostalgia while giving us a reason to find new jewellery.
There are many choker styles to explore, from ornate brooch embellishments to rows of leather to strings of shells.
So, we’ve put together a guide to making the choker modern and fresh, complete with help from iconic celebs.
The tattoo choker
Celebrity inspiration: kids who grew up in the 90s will remember those rubbery, stretchy, elastic chokers that were meant to resemble an intricate tattoo. It-celebrities such as Sabrina the Teenage Witch (the lovely Melissa Joan Hart), and the Olsen twins (today known simply as style icons) rocked these, as did almost every tween and teen across the globe.
The tattoo choker is an affordable way to wear the 90s trend, and there are many ways to do it.
- Layer a tattoo choker with other necklaces of different lengths, such as a gold chain ending at the clavicle and a beaded chain ending under the chest
- Go full 90s and wear a square-neck cropped tank, baggy high-waisted cargo pants, butterfly clips, a platform shoe, and a tattoo choker. Funnily enough, you’ll look equal parts 90s nostalgic and super-current thanks to the 90s revival
- Fuse super-chic, elegant fashion choices such as a crisp white shirt, tailored cigarette pants, and heeled sandals with the fun and youthfulness of the tattoo necklace. Juxtaposition is always a winner!
The velvet choker
Celebrity inspiration: Drew Barrymore was the teen dream of the 90s, with her swishy blonde hairstyle, luscious matte lips, and bad-girl attitude. Drew wore choker necklaces time after time, with one of the most memorable varieties being a black velvet choker with a small charm at the front. The velvet choker is a sweet mix between grungy-cool and evening-wear elegant.
- Embrace the “Drew” look including beauty and try a matte foundation, matte brown lip, drawn-in brows (within reason!) and carefree, just-woke-up hair framing your velvet choker
- Wear the choker with a slip dress and chunky boots in Spring and Summer, or denim overalls with a round-neck sweater underneath for a full-immersion 90s winter or fall moment
- The velvet choker is simple to make yourself, with a velvet ribbon and either velcro or a clasp you can easily hand-sew
The leather choker with cross pendant
Celebrity inspiration: the leather choker was arguably the most popular way to wear the trend, especially for the grungier, rockier girls. Supermodel Kate Moss and Christina Applegate (Kelly Bundy in ‘Married with Children’) took it a step further with a cross pendant at the front.
In the current day, Kylie Jenner has worn this trend many times (which 90s trends hasn’t she tried?).
- This kind of choker is easy to DIY, just find a length of leather at your haberdashery or sewing store, and go thrifting for a cross charm. Self-made jewelry pieces will always be fashionable (what’s more timeless than creativity?)
- Get inspired by classic 90s movie ‘The Craft’ and add cross earrings and an arm full of bracelets, bangles, or leather bands
- Offset the witchy-grunge style with a floral blouse and high-waisted flares for a unique 70s-meets-90s approach
The puka shell choker
Celebrity inspiration: Ah, the puka shell choker necklace! Remember those? Everyone seemed to come back from family holidays sporting at least one during the 90s and early 2000s. 90s boy bands, the beachy girls, and the “cool guys” at school sported these, often with spiky, frosted tips and baggy board shorts.
- Despite being a summer symbol, the puka shell necklace fits with any season and looks just as great with a cropped, ribbed sweater and high-waisted cargos as it does with a strappy slip dress
- Play with different colors, textures, and lengths by layering a puka shell choker with a long, delicate gold chain and a leather necklace with a brooch pendant
The thick diamond choker
Celebrity inspiration: You can’t get more glamorous than a big, bold choker encrusted with sparkling diamonds (or diamantes). The sparkly choker has cropped up throughout the decades, thanks to 1990s Jennifer Aniston (both as herself and as Rachel Green in ‘Friends’), Cardi B at the 2020 Grammys, and Rihanna on multiple occasions.
- Take a leaf out of Rihanna’s book and pair streetwear with high-glam by combining a worn-in tee, boyfriend jeans, heeled boots, and a diamond choker. Add a matching jewel-encrusted bracelet, matte red lip, and a well-loved leather crossbody bag
- Upgrade your professional workwear by wearing a diamond choker under your crisp blouse and suit jacket, or your office-friendly shift and blazer. The choker will show jusa little, with a glimpse of sparkle to jazz-up the workday
Wearing your choker on Special Occasions
For Date Night
Your date might be wondering why you’re not wearing the very expensive necklace he bought you last Christmas, so good luck explaining this one. We always go with, “fashion, darling” and that’s usually enough.
- Only the Isadora yellow diamond necklace in How To Lose A Guy in 10 Days would trump a choker. But until it becomes available to us, a choker wins every time.
- Black chokers are still the most popular, so wearing one with the other style-saver, i.e. the LBD, is a match made in heaven.
- Experiment with other colours for an edgy look. A red dress with a black choker? A gold dress with a silver choker? It’s been done- and it’s left quite a lasting impression!
- Sparkle! A sparkly necklace never fails to impress, and a crystal-encrusted choker has just the same jaw-dropping effect.
At The Beach
Forget prom flashbacks, because the choker goes a whole lot further than formalwear. Chokers on the beach couldn’t be more nineties if they tried, and we want to make sure this trend never dies.
- Chokers come in all shapes, sizes, and most importantly – colours. Choose a light coloured choker for a classic boho beach chic look.
- A top tip to pulling off the choker on the beach is to make yourself look like you’ve just filmed a music video, and the key to achieving that is to coordinate. Match the colour of your choker to your bikini and sarong for a seamless top to toe look.
Toughen Up An Outfit
What’s the best way to toughen up an overly feminine outfit? We think you already know the answer…
- Add some edge to a romantic lace dress by wearing biker boots, stackable rings, and a choker. Extra points if you want to add a leather jacket for twice as much attitude.
- A long maxi skirt paired with a slogan tee and a metallic choker is another great way to detract from the femininity of the skirt. A great daytime look. And if you happen to be going out for the evening, opting for a sleeker choker and changing your T-shirt to a delicate blouse is all you need to take you from day to night.
In the same way the choker can be used to add edge (as above) it can also be used to soften a look too. What a versatile piece of jewellery!
- Choose a pearl, beaded or lace choker to soften up your otherwise grunge-like outfit.
- Coordinate the colour and texture of your choker to other accessories such as bags, shoes and hair clips (if we are going full 90s!) so there is an even distribution of both soft and edgy.
What’s your favourite choker look? Let us know in the comments.