How to Choose the Most Flattering Neckline for You
The right neckline can completely change the look and feel of an outfit. With more than 20 types of necklines, there are lots of options to choose from, but not all necklines are right for all body types or occasions. Knowing which kinds of necklines look best on you and which you prefer will make shopping and dressing for clothing that much easier – and you’ll always feel so confident in the tops and dresses you wear. In this guide, we go through 20 different types of necklines, what they are, how to wear them, and how they work to flatter your favorite features based on your unique body type.
- Crew neck
- Cowl neck
- Spaghetti strap
- Off the shoulder
A crew neck, also called a round neck, is one of the most classic and versatile necklines. It’s commonly found on t-shirts and crew sweatshirts. This neckline accentuates the face and shoulders, pulling attention away from the midsection. Women with small to medium busts look particularly nice in crew necks because they help draw the eye upwards towards the face and shoulders; for those with larger busts, a crew neck might look or feel too constricting, though. The rounded and moderately-high neckline shortens the neck, so it looks particularly pretty on those with longer necks, while it might appear too squat on those with shorter necks. Crew necks are simple and standard enough that there is room to play around with statement earrings, blouse embellishments, and unique silhouettes.
When I think of a boatneck, I always think of Audrey Hepburn’s classic style. It’s feminine and dainty, maintaining an era-less elegance about it. The boatneck or bateau neck is wide, creating almost an oval shape around the neck. It opens past the collarbone, resting on the shoulders. The neckline is high, though, pulling attention towards the shoulders, collarbones, and neck. This looks particularly stunning on those with a pear shape – a small to medium bust with a fuller midsection and hips – because it naturally draws the eye upwards towards your more angular features, like the shoulders, collar, and jaw. This neckline offers similar coverage as a crew neck but with a little more feminine flair. Boatnecks look particularly beautiful when paired with minimalistic or statement earrings, a choker-style necklace, and A-line bottoms.
Learn how to always look classy and sophisticated here.
A collar is an easy, classic embellishment that’s professional enough for work and trendy enough for going out on the town. Collars can be large and decorative or small and dainty, so play around with different styles of collars to see which you like most. Women with a heart-shaped body, meaning your bust is larger than your hips, look particularly attractive in collared button-downs because it elongates the upper part of the torso. Pair these with high-waisted pencil skirts or shorts for a stunning silhouette that will instantly boost your confidence.
Not all collared shirts are button-downs and vice versa, but they’re often conflated together. A button-down, particularly a solid white or black one, is a wardrobe staple that every woman should have in her closet. If made of a high-end material and quality fit and finish, it’s the perfect top from going day to night with ease. If wearing a fitted or masculine-style collared button-down, pair it with minimalist layered necklaces for a fresh and chic vibe. If your button-down is loose and soft, try it with a statement gold necklace and hoops for effortless elegance.
The scoop neck is a classic look that is flattering on most body types. Creating a wide, deep U shape, it’s a common neckline for warm summer days. For those with a round or apple shape, scoop necklines elongate the torso and draw attention to the face, while a scoop neckline can also add shape to those with boxy or rectangular body shapes. It can elongate the neck while balancing out long faces. Some scoop necks are higher while others are lower, so you can find a neckline that best suits your body and style. It’s a truly versatile neckline and can be paired with different sleeve lengths. Scoop necks also give a lot of room to play around with layered necklaces, drop earrings, and bright colors.
A cowl neck has loose fabric that drapes below or around the collarbone. It’s a playful, flattering neckline that somehow both enhances smaller busts while tastefully accentuating larger chests. While inspired by the Ancient Greek necklines, this look is often seen in modern apparel emulating 1920s and 1970s styles. In 2022, we’re seeing a lot of cowl necks trending on the classic satin slip dress. You’ll also find cowl necks on sweaters and ponchos where the neckline bunches up a bit to create a cozy, comfortable vibe. I adore this Masterclassabout the history of the cowl neck and how to leverage this neckline for a chic look.
Sweetheart necklines have a curved heart-shaped look that draws attention to the decolletage (chest) and top of the bust. It has a small dip in the middle reminiscent of a V-neck, but it’s less plunging and more heart-shaped. Sweetheart necklines are arguably the most universally flattering neckline. For those with curves, it accentuates those curves gorgeously by balancing out the hips and hugging your chest. For those with smaller busts, it gives the illusion of curves without feeling overdone. A sweetheart neckline lengthens a shorter neck while adding roundness to those with square jaws. Because of this flattering style, it’s a common pick for wedding and cocktail dresses – but don’t neglect it for daily wear either!
Along with the traditional sweetheart, you’ll also find a semi-sweetheart neckline, which has a less dramatic V (more like a U-shape between the hearts). Semi-sweetheart necklines are more modest while still playful and feminine.
There is also a strapless sweetheart, which is just a sweetheart neckline without any straps. This style brings more attention to the chest and collarbones.
The Queen Anne neckline is a sweetheart neckline but with thicker straps on the shoulders to create a striking match between a low and high neckline. It’s named after England’s Queen Anne, who wore this style with grace.
As the name suggests, this neckline creates a “v” shape on the chest. There are different variations of the V neck, from a short, sophisticated V to a dramatic and plunging one. Those with smaller busts might want a shorter V neck to keep the attention on their collarbones and décolletage area, while those with larger busts might like a deeper V to balance the overall silhouette of a flowing dress. This isn’t a hard and fast rule, though. Even those with smaller busts and rounder features might like a deeper V neck to draw attention to angular waists and give room to play with longer layering necklaces. I recommend wearing a necklace that matches the shape of the V-neck for a polished look that draws attention to the V.
A keyhole neckline refers to a high neckline that has a hole around the base of the neck and chest. This creates a sort of modest v shape gap that offers a touch of sophisticated sexiness. This is a gorgeous, unique option for those who like the idea of a V-neck but prefer high necklines on their body type.
Halter necklines are when the straps of the top connect behind the neck, leaving the shoulders bare. Oftentimes, it will also have a low or open back. A halter can have a high neck (even bordering on a mock turtleneck), a keyhole neckline, or even a plunging V-neck or sweetheart style. The key aspect of a halter is that the straps wrap around the neck, creating a summery sort of vibe. For those with fuller busts, wide shoulders, and a straight or hourglass midsection, halters can draw the eye upward for a beautifully balanced silhouette. When it comes to accessorizing, let the halter do the talking and accentuate with drop earrings and your favorite pair of sunglasses.
Speaking of summery vibes, there’s nothing that screams sunshine like the spaghetti strap! Spaghetti straps have two thin straps (like spaghetti noodles) that loop around the top of the shoulders. This style of sleeve is typically paired with a square, sweetheart, semi-sweetheart, or cowl neck to create a unique and relaxed neckline. Spaghetti straps have become the “new” classic because they’re super versatile. Depending on the neck, the material, and how you pair it, a spaghetti strap can be formal or casual. It will also keep you cool if you tend to run hot.
Check out this great article with some ideas on how to effectively wear spaghetti straps!
Strapless is more of a sleeve than a neckline, but it changes the way the neckline looks. This is a neck – often a sweetheart or semi-sweetheart – that has no straps, leaving the shoulders and chest bare. Though it’s popular for formal wear, a strapless blouse can also be a beautiful choice for spring and summer when paired with delicate jewelry and a flowing skirt. If opting for a strapless shirt, make sure it fits properly and has stickies to keep it from falling.
Illusion necklines give the benefits of both a low and high neckline at the same time. This refers to a low neckline, like a strapless sweetheart, with sheer or lace fabric extending up towards a higher neckline, like a boatneck. This is a stunning option if you want the comfort and elegance of a higher neckline with the flirty femininity of a sweetheart. This is a common neckline for wedding dresses and spring and summer wedding guest dresses, but we’ve also seen it becoming more and more popular in everyday streetwear as well.
Asymmetric necklines come in and out of style, but they’re a sophisticated way to add a little spice and intrigue to your outfit. An asymmetric neck is when there is only one strap or shoulder, which is why it’s also referred to as the “one shoulder.” This creates a soft diagonal across the chest that draws attention to the upper half of the outfit. An asymmetrical neckline can also refer to a neck that isn’t the same on both sides, like if one side has a thick strap and the other has a thin strap. Women with narrow shoulders look good in asymmetrical necklines because it gives the shoulders a broader look. It also accentuates the bust area and adds a touch of dimension that looks particularly nice on those with a rectangular body shape. Wear less jewelry to focus on the unique neckline of the dress, and don’t be afraid to play around with ruffles or colors with an asymmetric neckline.
Off-the-shoulder, also referred to as a Bardot neckline, tends to be a square neck with the sleeves hanging off the shoulders and resting on the upper arms. This draws attention to the shoulders and collar bone while adding coverage around the bust and arms. We’re seeing a lot of off-the-shoulder necklines this year as more and more women are falling in love with this flattering look, particularly when paired with a loose and flowy top (think cottagecore aesthetic). You can dress it up with dainty jewelry and an updo or keep it casual and free with loose hair and statement earrings.
The scallop design refers to small half-circle curves along the neckline, often extending to the sleeves and/or bottom hem as well. Scalloped necklines offer a feminine flair without detracting from the rest of the shirt. This makes it a beautiful neckline when used with patterns, like delicate florals or cute polka dots. Scallops are on the preppy side, so they also look lovely on shirts or dresses in pastel or bright colors. They have become particularly popular as an elegant embellishment for both formal wear and daily outfits.
A square neckline creates a square shape along the chest. Often cut wide and low, it gives the appearance of three sides of a square around the neck and jaw. Square necks are an easy way to elongate the face, make narrow shoulders appear wider, and balance out wider hips. They’re basic enough to wear daily but also intriguing enough to appear more elevated and chic. Those with rounder features might not like the harshness of a square neckline, while those with angular features will like the way the lines reflect the jaw and collarbone. Square necklines are particularly popular right now when paired with fresh florals, combining the harsher lines with gentler patterns.
A surplice neckline looks like a wrap dress, but the overlapping pieces are sewn together. It usually creates a small V-neck as the two pieces overlap, but the shoulders tend to be wider (giving the effect that it’s wrapping around the body). These look particularly beautiful on women who want to accentuate their waist. It’s also perfect for those women who want a less dramatic V-neck or want to incorporate long sleeves. A surplice neckline is particularly trendy this spring 2022 because it creates an effortlessly feminine look when paired with florals and light fabrics.
A turtleneck, also referred to as a polo neck, fits high and tight around the neck. Traditional turtlenecks often have excess fabric that can be folded down to create a chic look. Mock turtlenecks end just at the base of the neck and generally stand around the neck without folding down. Turtlenecks can be hit or miss for women. Some women love their warmth and comfort, while others find them tight and constricting. Here’s a great guideon the different styles of turtlenecks and how you can wear them to best accentuate your body type.
A jewel neckline looks like a turtleneck, mock turtleneck, or crewneck, but it generally has the addition of jewels or sequins around the collar. This gives the appearance of a necklace, but it’s sewn into the shirt. This is becoming less popular in daily wear since women are tending towards more basic shirts they can dress up or down with removable jewelry. This is still popular for some cocktail and formal dresses, though.
Which necklines do you enjoy wearing the most? We have an extensive collection of tops here at Current Boutique, so you’re guaranteed to find a neckline, style, color, and fit that makes you feel confident, beautiful, and ready to take on the day!
- Crew neck: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/833165999798146038/
- Boatneck: https://www.harpersbazaar.com/celebrity/latest/g4985/audrey-hepburn-style-photos/
- Collared: https://fashionjackson.com/french-connection-oversized-white-shirt-outfit/
- Scoop: https://busbeestyle.com/express-sale/
- Cowl neck: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/209628557649104203/
- Sweetheart: https://stylecaster.com/strapless-tops-outfits/?utm_source=pinterest&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=editorial&utm_content=viraltag
- Semi sweetheart: https://www.wendyslookbook.com/2017/04/spring-dress-two-ways-ruffled-sleeves-distressed-jeans/
- Strapless sweetheart: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/6825836918046081/
- Queen Anne: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/299348706492287491/
- Vneck: https://stealthestyle.com/steal-reese-witherspoons-little-black-dress-style/?utm_medium=social&utm_source=pinterest&utm_campaign=tailwind_tribes&utm_content=tribes
- Keyhole: https://glitterandspice.com/2019/04/the-best-patio-restaurants-in-dallas/
- Halter: https://stylecaster.com/how-to-wear-a-halter-top/?utm_source=pinterest&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=editorial&utm_content=viraltag
- Spaghetti strap: https://fashionjackson.com/sezane-blue-white-stripe-maxi-dress/
- Strapless: https://www.miamiamine.com/2017/07/easy-summer-separates.html
- Illusion: https://www.sydnestyle.com/2018/02/love-letter-galentines/
- Asymmetric: http://songofstyle.com/2017/05/asymmetrical-top-frayed-denim/
- Off the shoulder: http://ladyinviolet.com/2019/03/25/blue-off-the-shoulder-top/?utm_medium=social&utm_source=pinterest&utm_campaign=tailwind_smartloop&utm_content=smartloop&utm_term=27162224#/
- Scallop: https://www.thebluehydrangeas.com/favorite-white-dresses-season/#/
- Square: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/248472104432481481/
- Surplice: https://www.thesweetestthingblog.com/2020/02/spring-trends-2020/
- Turtleneck: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/14636767530946155/
- Jewel: https://cupcakesandcashmere.com/fashion/jeweled-edges