Upon receiving an invitation to a ball, Madame Loisel buys a new dress and borrows a necklace from a friend. She has a lovely time at the ball dancing and attracting the attention of the gentlemen. As she and her husband return home, she realizes she is no longer wearing the necklace. They search their clothing, and her husband retraces their steps, but they are unable to find it. After finding a similar necklace at a shop, Madame Loisel and her husband pay thirty-six thousand francs for a replacement.
Madame Loisel's husband has eighteen thousand francs from an inheritance but has to borrow the remainder of the money. In order to pay back the money, he continues his position as a clerk in the Ministry of Education and works evenings as an accountant and a copier.