Dressing Room

Your Most Flattering Neckline

Your Most Flattering Neckline

When it comes to choosing a T-shirt, shirt, 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.

On the other hand, choose the right cut and you’ll appear taller, slimmer and more stylish. How to create this magic? 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
Wearing an open neckline that shows off the collarbone/décolleté is going to make most women appear longer and leaner. Lower, open necklines like a sweetheart (which is shaped like the top of a heart), scoop, square or V-neck 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 create 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 neckline 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
A true turtleneck that hits a couple of inches below the chin will whittle away your height, making it 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. 

A Universally Flattering Neckline
A halter flatters any figure, as it “gives support and lift to a big bust”, says Ramos. If the halter has a built-in bra, it can create curves where there are none, which is why you see a lot of halter-style bathing suits and wedding dresses. If your arms or shoulders are your trouble spot, Ramos advises topping the halter with a fitted jacket.

The Neckline to Avoid
Stylists agree strapless clothing is a hard look to pull off -- unless you’ve got flawless proportions. “A strapless cut can make top-heavy women spill out, and tall, thin women look giraffe-like”, says Ramos. The silhouette can, however, help petite women look taller. 

Tweak Unflattering Necklines
You can use scissors to alter necklines that may not be flattering. For example, cut a crew neck a few inches straight down the middle. A T-shirt may fray a little, but that’s in vogue. And if you cut a jumper, a few minutes in the dryer will prevent it from unravelling.

Holly Crawford is a freelance writer who has contributed to numerous magazines and websites, including InStyle and Elle online.

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