There’s no overstating the importance of a flattering neckline when you’re hunting down the perfect top or dress for your body. It’s easy to let your focus gear toward other areas, but the right neck shape can set the tone for your entire look.
From classic to trendy, crew neck to deep V and everything in-between, read on for every type of neckline you need to know about, and how to choose the best one for you.
1. Boat Neck
The boat neck is a nautical-inspired go-to of icons like Audrey Hepburn (hence its nickname, the Sabrina neckline). It is a graceful, wider neckline that typically hits just past the collarbone. Sometimes known as a bateau neckline, an elegant boat neck blouse or dress draws the eye out toward your shoulders and can give the illusion of better posture.
2. Cowl Neck
The cowl neck has a design that naturally drapes in rounded folds and forms a unique silhouette that flatters a variety of body types. A cowl neck dress that shows a little skin helps to lengthen the appearance of your torso. Something to keep in mind is that a cowl neck with thinner folds will add little volume to your bust, but thicker folds (like those on a cowl neck sweater) will add depth to your silhouette.
3. Crew Neck (Round Neck or Jewel Neckline)
This classic, simple, close-to-the-face shape is a staple for a reason. Most often, you won’t have to worry about this neckline competing with any accessories you choose to wear — just stay away from necklaces the same length as the neckline itself.
4. Halter Neck
This neckline design draws the eye up and in, creating a balancing effect by cutting between your shoulders. You’ll especially want to try a halter neck dress or blouse for your next occasion if you’re looking to draw attention to your pretty posture, or highlight your curves.
5. High Neck (Turtleneck)
A sophisticated neckline design like a high neck or turtleneck hits a few inches below the chin and offers up a blank slate to mix, match and layer your favorite necklaces. Thin sweater knits or mesh styles are ideal layering pieces for fall and winter months, giving a little pop of color just above the neckline of your outer layer. If you’re worried about the “floating head” effect of a super high turtleneck, opt for a style that gives the illusion of a turtleneck without the height — also known as a mock neck.
Off-the-shoulder shapes, also known as Bardot, highlight your shoulders and collarbone, drawing the eye upwards to your gorgeous face. Romantic and flirty, off-the-shoulder tops are super flattering, and are the perfect go-to for date nights (or for adding some glamour to your day-to-day wardrobe). Pair this neckline with your favorite statement earrings to complete the look.
7. One Shoulder
Arguably the most dramatic of all the neckline styles, one shoulder tops and dresses are unexpected — and so fun to experiment with. Pick a basic layer with a one shoulder neckline to pair with jeans to add excitement to your everyday wardrobe. If one shoulder seems too daring (or, if you’re worried about slippage with thinner fabrics), dabble with the illusion of a single shoulder with garments featuring asymmetrical straps.
8. Scoop Neck
The deeper, wider neckline of a scoop neck tee or a scoop neck dress is flattering to virtually everyone. Whether you’re small or large busted, this style lengthens your neck and highlights your collarbones in an elegant, ballerina-esque way. Take this style for a spin already!
9. Collar Neck
The common collar neck can be found on everything from classic button-up blouses to denim jackets and beyond. Not only does a standing collar flatter your neck, the open neckline will allow your bust area to “breathe” without exposing too much (or, if your collar neck comes with buttons, expose as much as you’re in the mood for). This feminine-yet-chic style creates a professional look with just the right amount of sexy.
10. Square Neck
The retro shape of a square neck dress or square neck top is the perfect balance of modest and sexy. It provides a nice contrast to curves and can help to visually lengthen your neck and draw attention to your collarbone.
11. Sweetheart Neckline
An open style like a sweetheart neckline enhances curves, and similar to the square neck, draws eyes upwards to lengthen your neckline and put your collarbone on full display. Sweetheart necklines are often found on bustier and sleeveless silhouettes, but can also be found more subtly on a wide array of styles.
12. V Neck
Anyone can look great in this universal neckline. The key to nailing the perfect V neck dress or V neck tops for your shape? Confidence…and the right bra. This style draws the eye inward, lengthening the neck and torso.
13. Plunging Neckline (Deep V Neck)
Just as with the traditional V neck, this style of neckline is perfect for elongating your frame (and bringing drama to any look). Regardless of your bust size, boob tape is your BFF when preparing to rock this style, especially if you plan to be moving around.
14. Keyhole Neckline
The keyhole neckline is a close sibling of the halter neck, except forming a “keyhole” of varying shapes and sizes right below your collar bones. This timeless neckline brings out class and sophistication, as it feels and looks as though you are wearing a jewel. Keyholes are often mixed with other styles of necklines, like crewneck and turtlenecks, to create a peek-a-boo effect.
15. Surplice Neckline
A surplice neckline forms when fabric from one side of your shoulders crosses fabric from the other side at the front, and then permanently sewn down in the seam. It is often mistaken as a V neck shape. A discerning feature is the cinch around the waist, that makes this neckline perfect for anyone who wants to achieve a more defined waistline.
Strapless styles highlight your entire upper body area and are perfect for women who like to flaunt their collarbones and necks. However, be prepared for its minimal support by finding the right strapless bra to wear underneath. Often, strapless necklines are mixed with sweetheart and straight-neck shapes.
Many fun pieces bring in multiple elements of necklines, appearing layered or blended for dramatic effect. A combination of necklines often creates a distinctive look with an added dimension, and is definitely something to try for a night to remember.