Your Most Flattering Neckline

The Style Glossy: Dressing Room

Your Most Flattering Neckline

By Holly Crawford for The Style Glossy

When it comes to choosing a T-shirt, blouse, jumper or dress, it’s the neckline that is likely to make all the difference between a look that flatters your figure and one that accentuates your less-than-perfect parts. “Often, when an outfit doesn’t work, it’s because of the neckline,” explains stylist and fashion show producer Todd Ramos.

To appear taller, slimmer and more stylish, you have to factor in your bust size, neck length, height and even face shape. Here’s a guide to discovering which necklines work for you.

Sweetheart, Scoop Neck, V-neck and Square Neck

The collarbone region is one of the most alluring parts of any woman. Wearing an open neckline that shows it off will also bring attention to your face and elongate your upper body, especially if you’re petite or have a short neck.

  • Tip: If you’re not well endowed, sweetheart and scoop necklines are best at creating the illusion of curves.
  • Bottom line: Great for everyone, unless you’re top heavy or have an especially long neck.

Crew Neck and Boatneck
If you have a long neck, narrow face, small chest or sloped shoulders, a high neckline -- one that rests on or very near the collarbone -- is your best bet. Crew necks and boatnecks draw the eye out to your shoulders so you appear more balanced and proportioned.

  • Tip: If you’re pear-shaped, look for dresses in this cut to balance your upper and lower body.
  • Bottom line: Crew necks and boatnecks balance out narrow necks, faces, shoulders and small chests. But on the flip side, these necklines can make you look bigger than you are if you have generous curves, a short neck or broad shoulders.

Cowl-necks, Mock Necks and Turtlenecks
By choosing the right amount of coverage, you’ll find there’s no need to shiver in the name of beauty. A true turtleneck that hits about 5 centimetres below the chin is best for those who want to offset a long neck or face. A cowl-neck, which is a looser version of a turtleneck, naturally drapes at the chest, creating a vertical line that elongates the body. A mock neck hits slightly lower than a turtleneck and serves as a good midpoint if you can’t part with your more covered-up jumpers.

  • Bottom line: Trade turtlenecks for mock necks or cowl-necks unless you have a long face or neck. 

The Neckline to Avoid
Strapless clothing may be on every rack in every store, but stylists agree it’s a hard look to pull off -- unless you’ve got flawless proportions and a yoga bod like Jennifer Aniston. “A strapless cut can make top-heavy women spill out, and tall, thin women look giraffe-like,” says Ramos. The silhouette may, however, be a boon to petite women, helping them look taller.

Tweak Unflattering Necklines

If you wore crew necks before you figured out it’s not your most flattering neckline, work the scissors. “Cut a crew neck about 5 centimetres straight down the middle,” says Ramos. If you cut a jumper, a few minutes in the dryer will prevent it from unraveling.

With any lower necklines, there’s the risk of going too low and looking inappropriately sexy. Whether your top goes too deep or a V-neck is not your best look, try it over a camisole or slim-fit collared shirt before you toss it. “Layering can breathe new life into a too-revealing top,” says Ramos.

Holly Crawford is a freelance writer who has contributed to numerous magazines and Web sites, including Glamour, InStyle, Allure, Cosmopolitan and Elle online.


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  • Wice says
    Good to see someone wriing about this topic. It can take years to work out just what sort of necklines "not to buy". I have noticed that these do change with time though as necks broaden and 'shorten' with age and what once suited can end up as very unflattering.

    Personally, with quite a short neck, I love straight across square necklines which lengthen the area but I find very few clothes other than camis which feature these. They really do look great on me whereas higher necklines make me look stocky. Polo necks are an absolute no-no for me too.

    However, this brings me to the point that we so often forget about our decolletage. So many women look after their faces like the queen's jewels but totally neglect this area. As they age, this becomes quite leathery and wrinkled as it is thought of as part of the 'body' tan area. I've seen many women develop "old hippopotamus" skin here l even though their faces are still soft peachy. So think about moisturising your decolletage every day.
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