The story is set in Paris in the 1880s. The protagonist Mathilde Loisel, a young middle-class woman, and her husband, a modest clerk, are invited to a prestigious ball. Mathilde, being very vain, complains to her husband that she cannot go without a new dress and some jewelry. To appease her, her husband gives her money he had been saving, so she can buy a dress. However, she still feels poor without a bauble to wear. Thinking quickly, she goes to a wealthy friend, Mme. Forestier, to borrow a necklace.