How to Find Your Balance Points – For Necklines and Jewellery

Often, when I’m with a client, they’ll tell me that they have some necklaces that they like, but never wear. When they bring them out to show me, we discover that they’re just not hanging in the right spot for them – and as soon as we put them on one of their ‘balance points ‘ they look fabulous. A small alteration with the length of the chain can make all the difference to the look of a necklace.

So what is this ‘balance point’? It’s a concept divised by the amazing Carla Mathis which she discussed in her book The Triumph of Individual Style : A Guide to Dressing Your Body, Your Beauty, Your Self who discovered it when studying portrait art – it’s a set of measurements that create a look of ‘balance’ which we find attractive and appealing.
What is interesting, is that your balance points can help make a short neck look longer, and a long one look shorter.
I’ve done up a photo to help you understand.

So – in purple is the First Balance Point – to find yours, take a piece of string and visually measure the length of your face – forehead to chin, then take that same measurement from chin down to your chest – this is a great point to end tops, or start seeing skin if wearing a buttoned shirt (so you want the last button done up slightly lower than this point). Necklines look best within 1/2″ of this point – it doesn’t have to be exact. Or if you’re wearing a higher neckline, this is a nice place to have a piece of jewellery sit.
The in green is the Second Balance Point – to find yours, find the widest part of your face – for many people it’s across the width of the cheekbones – but for some it may be the forehead, and others it might be your chin. Draw an imaginary line across your face (like the green line that goes across my nose), and measure from this point to the chin, then from the shoulderline down – this is a great place to end tops or put a necklace.
The First Balance Point will make your neck look longer (if you wear your necklines ending at this point) if it’s shorter, or shorter if it’s longer.
The Second Balance Point stops you from looking choked by your necklines, and breaks up a long decollete.
I often wear jewellery that actually goes between both balance points – which is a good strategy if you are long through this proportion (not sure, check out this post on Body Proportions).
Use this measurement when working out where to button up a shirt to – just because they put buttons all the way up to the neck, doesn’t mean you have to use them! Ideally, use the First Balance Point as where you start to see the skin of your decolletage.

Comments

  1. Imogen, That is so interesting about the length of the necklaces and neckline depth. At last I know why some things work and some things dont. Could never figure it out. Thank you again for your indepth posts. I am now at the age, 50 ++, that I need advice on how to dress for my age and not look as if I have given up nor trying to look like my daughters. Anything you can help with please.

  2. Imogen Lamport says:

    Kirsten – glad to help. I'm getting something together on dressing with style over 50.

  3. Deja Pseu says:

    Imogen – this was one of the most helpful parts of your workshop. I've really started paying attention to where my necklaces hit, and it's made a huge difference in how they look! Thanks again!

  4. Fantastic! I'm sending this along to one of my clients who is consistently stymied by necklaces and other jewelry.

  5. Fascinating – I'm going to print of a picture of me and work it out!

    This could solve my "t-shirt neckline" issue too :-)

  6. Christina Lee says:

    so fascinating and useful!!!

  7. I wear my jewelry all over the place :-)
    But of course, I have to!

  8. This was one of the most interesting entries by you. My hand hit right where my neckline is when measuring the first balance point, I was amused! I kind of instinctually wear layering camisoles right at that point, it minimizes the bust.
    Can I do request, please? I don't usually wear skirts or dresses, but I have two that I'm not sure of-their shape, their length, cut of the hemline, details on them etc. Can you do a post about choosing the flattering skirt shapes? Thanks!

  9. I am really looking forward to the dressing over 50 post. I've written about it a lot, how to be Fierce at 50. But I have so much to learn still. Will turn 53 in September. Yes, I procrastinated:).

    And I have to ask, where do you learn these cool things about proportion? How did I live for 52 years without knowing that this information existed?

    Your follower, LPC.

  10. Imogen Lamport says:

    Pseu – thanks – when I about this it too made a whole lot of sense!

    Sal – thanks!

    Tat – yes it will work on your Tshirt neckline issue – most crew necks are higher than your 2nd balance point.

    Christina – Thanks!

    Wendy B – I would be interested to see if you end up wearing a lot of your pieces at your balance points! I bet you do subconsciuosly.

    Basak – Thanks so much -thanks for your comment and coming by! Can you email me about what your issues with skirts is exactly and a little more about yourself?

    LPC – I'm getting one of my best friends who is 60 this year to photograph her very non mutton or lamb outfits to show how you can look great at any age! I studied, and keep studying the science behind 'fashion' as such – it fascinates me and makes so much sense. Thanks so much for following, I appreciate it!

  11. That *is* fascinating, and like you I am long through this area. I definitely should invest in some extenders to make my shorter necklaces more versatile. I imagine that this could also vary depending on what kind of top neckline you are pairing your necklace with.

  12. You always have the most interesting posts about proportion! I've always visually played with the length of my necklaces to get it right, and now it's nice to have a quantifiable method of doing so!

  13. Belle de Ville says:

    This concept of Balance Points is so interesteing. I've always chosen my necklaces according to the necklines of my clothes instead of my proportions.

    Right now I am wearing an ultra low scoop neck tank and a "jewels by the yard" necklace with multi-colored gemstones in 18k yellow gold (soon to be on Beladora.com) The necklace is 90 inches long and I have it quintuped around my neck.
    I kinda think that I look awesome…but maybe I'm just really a hot mess.

  14. Imogen Lamport says:

    Kari – extenders are great to make your necklaces more versatile.

    Cciele – thanks – glad you've found this useful.

    Belle – necklines are also important – some pieces work better with different necklines – I definitely find that an open collared shirt needs a different necklace to a v or scoop neck t-shirt.

  15. metscan says:

    Very interesting! I´ll have to go and measure my balance points !

  16. You have bangs; could you also measure from your fringe to your chin to get that first balance point?

  17. embellessiment says:

    very usefull, thanks for that!
    I'll work mine out with that, too :)

  18. Imogen Lamport says:

    Karen – you 'd need to have a heavier fringe, which you can't see forehead through , to measure from the bottom of them – mine are too gappy not to measure from the top of my forehead.

  19. Great article! I love your blog (it's my fav fashion resource so far) and I've been steadily working through it since I came across it. It would be great if you could do the same sort of tutorial, but with earrings. Or even just a bit about their length/style and body proportions or necklines. So much to consider!

    Also, maybe you could consider going more in depth about different necklines and styles of jewelry. For us newbies at this all the different options can seem overwhelming at times.

  20. Hi Imogen

    I tried this out however my first balance point ended up right in the middle of my breasts, am I doing something wrong? I wouldnt really feel too comfortable having my buttons open from this point or drawing attention to the area with a necklace.

  21. Imogen Lamport, AICI CIP says:

    Erina – send me a photo of your face and torso so I can check it for you.

  22. Personal Grooming Singapore says:

    I practice this in my dressing and it's great!

  23. Hi Imogen,

    Do you have a similar formula for balance points for hair length based on facial measurements?

  24. If my widest point is chin, to what point should I measure the length to figure out the distance for the 2nd Balance Point?

    • Olga – same instructions, no matter where the widest point is – there still must be some difference between widest point of your jaw and the bottom of your chin

  25. The forehead to chin measurement and then chin to neckline sits squarely in my bosom! I would never wear shirts that revealing! Nor do I want my necklaces squished inside of my breasts! I think something went wrong. I am perhaps misshapen?

    • Try doing the measurement on a photo. I’ve found hat he first point normally sits just at the top of the cleavage on the breastbone

  26. Christel says:

    Imogen,

    I have an extremely square face shape and my face measurements are within millimeters from the top of my hairline to the bottom of my jaw. I don’t know where to measure from to get the second balance point. If I measure from my (wide) lower jaw, it’s only an inch to my chin. If I measure from my (wide) forehead, it’s 7 1/2 inches to my chin. How should people with square face shapes find their second balance point?

    Thanks.

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  1. [...] Find your balance points and make sure your necklines sit at the first balance [...]

  2. [...] As far as where to put them, read up on finding your balance points for placement. [...]

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