The neckline is one of the most overlooked parts of clothing styles that greatly affect how flattering a top or dress will be, regardless of accessories. There are dozens of different necklines that change the way your bust, neck and face areas look. Some women who have a wide neck wouldn’t want to wear something that will make the neck look thicker, nor would a woman with a small face want to create a disproportioned look from top to bottom.
There are 5 key areas that should be considered when choosing a neckline for tops and dresses. To get started, ask yourself the following questions:
- What is my Body Shape? (Apple, Pear, Hourglass…)
- What size is my Bust? (Small, Average, Large…)
- What shape is my Face? (Square, Round, Oval…)
- What kind of Neck do I have? (Long, Short, Wide…)
- What kind of Shoulders do I have? (Wide, Round, Square…)
Once you have figured out the type of upper body you have, it will be easier to choose the most flattering necklines to make you look great!
Which Necklines Flatter My Shape?
Take a look at this quick breakdown of necklines and which shapes they are best suited for.
Trendy and stylish, an asymmetrical neckline helps draw the eyes up to the bustline and away from a heavier tummy or hip area. It also helps create the illusion of narrow shoulders. Some styles will only have one shoulder (strap of sleeve), and others will have both straps/sleeves but the neckline will be off to one side. An asymmetrical neckline generally does not affect the shape of the face, but it is not recommended for women with a short neck.
A boat neckline (also known as bateau) is a beautiful modern look that really shows off a slim neck and shoulders. If you have a shorter or thicker neck, this style will only make it look wider. This neckline is also a good choice for women with a larger tummy or bust because it draws the eye up to the neck. Great for pear, hourglass and rectangle body shapes.
The bardot neckline is similar to the boat neck, but this style will generally sit just off the shoulders. Since it’s a much more open style, women with a wider neck can easily wear this, and it looks great to accentuate smaller shoulders. This style can work well for women with a larger and smaller bust, and it draws the eye away from the hips and tummy, making it a favorite for pear shapes. Many hourglass women also love this neckline.
Cowl Neck (Draped Neck)
A cowl neck drapes down to the bust and adds some shape and volume to the bustline. Women with a smaller bust and wider hips will benefit from this style. Apple, hourglass and pear body shapes will even out their bodies from top to bottom, while rectangle shapes will add shape to their bust.
A crew neck is round and closer up to the neck. They are the most flattering for women with a smaller bust and slender neck. This neckline works well for hourglass, pear, rectangle and some apple body shapes.
The crossover neckline adds great visual interest and texture to the chest, making it a favorite for women with a smaller bust. There are two main crossover styles that work with different body details. A crossover v-neck style is great for most body shapes, but low v-neck styles look best on women with a fuller bust and work well to minimize a thicker neck. A crossover halter neckline is best suited for a smaller bust, slender neck and narrower shoulders.
A halter style is a favorite for many women because it suits almost all body shapes. They are ideal for women with a larger bust or narrow shoulders and draw the eye away from large waistlines.
A jewel neckline is similar to a round neck, but it tends to be wider and lower, making it a great style for women with a slender neck and nicely defined collar. It is also a great style for any body shape, especially for women with a larger bust.
A notch neckline looks like a combination of a round and v-neck. It adds visual interest to clothing and helps draw the eyes up and away from problem areas like the tummy or hips. This is a good style for a smaller bust and for both narrow and wide necks.
Off the shoulder necklines are very wide and can sit anywhere from just at, or well below the shoulders. This style works well for hourglass, pear, apple and rectangle body shapes. This neckline beautifully shows off a nice collar and shoulder area, and it also flatters women with a wider neck.
Just like an asymmetrical neckline, a one-shoulder style is a trendy look that flatters women of most body shapes. They show off lovely shoulders and necks, making them a good choice for hourglass, pear and rectangle body shapes. This neckline also offers good support for a larger bust, but just make sure there is little detail to avoid making the area look larger. This will create imbalance in the body.
A plunging neckline is one of the most daring and are most popular with club tops and dresses. This neckline style works best with a smaller bust and narrower shoulders, otherwise, a large bust may cause too many “wardrobe malfunctions”. This style will normally dip just below the ribs, but there are also others that drop to the navel.
The Queen Anne neckline is a beautiful choice for gowns and rich blouses. It has a high stand collar at the back of the neck and then dips down into a v-neck. Since this style hugs the neck so closely, it is not recommended for anyone with a thick neck or broad shoulders, as it will give your body an imbalanced look.
Scoop Neck (Round Neck)
A round neckline is a common style that is found on tops, sweaters, cardigans, dresses and even some jackets. Similar to a crew or jewel neckline, it’s lovely for any body shape, because it’s an open style that shows off an attractive neck and collar area.
A square neckline falls straight down and cuts right across the bust. It’s a great style for women with a large or small bust, but since it does create a wider look to the upper body, it’s only recommended for women with narrow shoulder. Ideal for pear body shapes. This style should be avoided if you have a square face, since it will give you a harsh masculine look.
A strapless neckline is a great way to show off beautiful shoulders and neck. Strapless styles cut right across the bust like a square neck, so women with broad shoulders should avoid them. They also offer less support at the bust, making it a tough style to wear for women with a larger bust.
A sweetheart neckline is a lovely feminine look that any woman can easily wear. It’s a flattering style for women with a large or small bust, making it a great choice for any body shape. The gently curves of this v-neck variation create the illusion of curves on women with an inverted triangle or rectangle body shape and it also highlights natural curves for other body shapes like hourglass, apple and pear.
A turtle neck is a very popular choice for cool weather clothing, but not everyone can wear them. It’s a high style that hugs the neck, which is generally unflattering for women with a shorter or wider neck. This is a lovely style for anyone with a slim long neck and narrower shoulders. Great for pear, rectangle and apple body shapes.
The v-neck is another very popular neckline that suits every woman. There are different variations of v-neck where the “v” sits higher or lower on the body, so this is the only thing that should be considered when purchasing tops. A higher v-neck is suitable for women with a smaller bust and narrower neck, the deeper v-neck is ideal for women with a larger bust and thicker neck.