Just like the waistline, the neckline style is a defining factor when it comes to the overall look and feel of your outfit. Your choice of neckline styles defines whether your outfit is formal or casual, feminine and playful or sophisticated and stylish.
Conventional wisdom might suggest that large breasted gals opt for higher necklines but this is actually a bad idea…the higher the neckline, the lower set it will make you lovely ladies appear so you should be going for medium cuts. Also, the wider the cut of the neckline, the broader your shoulders will appear –so you can offset a wide hip with the illusion of balance in this way!
Personally, I was surprised by the sheer number of necklines I uncovered which researching this article, the more I searched the more I discovered. Take a look through because there's a clever choice for every body type and also quite a few unwise choices…you're bound to get some new wardrobe and project ideas from this lengthy and hopefully very handy list of neckline styles.
I've also included some links to various patterns that utilize the several of the neckline styles. And don't miss the downloadable summary at the end of the article.
This neckline is a popular choice for ball and wedding gowns, it's extremely feminine and flattering on a variety of figures. The heart-shaped bust line works great on full chested ladies; they can show off or accentuate cleavage without actually revealing too much.
On petite, narrow shouldered women this line will create the illusion of curves and widen the shoulders. Women with hard angled faces will benefit from the feminine balance this soft line provides. The exposed décolletage balances well with the curves of a broad-hipped woman. This style could be a standard sweetheart, ending on top of the shoulders, a spaghetti strap version or a strapless sweetheart, there are a number of other variations which we will cover hereafter.
This style is very similar to the sweetheart style, except that the heart shape doesn’t have that defined point in the center, instead it has a shallower curve. This will work for the same body types as the standard sweetheart neckline.
This is, in essence, a sweetheart neckline but instead of having a strapless sweetheart or the smooth curve of a standard one, this one combines a square neck with a sweetheart so it will finish on the shoulders. The overall effect is one of drawing the attention vertically and so you can follow the same body type guidelines as you would for a v-neck.
Straight Across/Tube/Strapless neckline styles:
This neckline goes straight from armpit to armpit. This neckline won't suit narrow shouldered ladies, only ladies with square proportions and broad or medium, toned shoulders. Try to avoid this unless your arms are toned or slim. Large busted ladies should definitely avoid this as it will have the effect of making your bust appear low set.
This is the same as a Strapless neckline only it includes spaghetti straps for support.
The elegant and sophisticated boatneck neckline has the effect of broadening the shoulders so it’s perfect for pear shaped ladies, while ladies with broad shoulders should definitely avoid it. Ladies with attractive collar bones should take advantage of this style. It also tends to accentuate the bust so it can give the illusion of fullness to a small busted woman.
This angular neckline plunges from the shoulders down to a central point. This is a popular choice among Hollywood stars, because of it’s miraculous lengthening and slimming effects. Because the v-neck creates a vertical focus: drawing the attention in a vertical line, the effect is definitely one of lengthening and slimming. This neckline is flattering on any body shape, except
This neckline is flattering on any body shape, except possibly ladies with a very long neck, it accentuates cleavage, lengthens short necks and wide faces while narrowing broad shoulders. Large busted ladies, keep in mind that a high V-cut will make your chest look lower set. Ladies with wide hips will benefit from a wider V, as opposed to a plunging one because the exposed skin will create an illusion of balance.
This diagonal neckline will have one shoulder exposed and one strapped. Great on slim ladies with narrow shoulders and toned arms. This is a sexy way to show a bit of collar bone. This style won’t suit broad-shouldered ladies.
This gorgeous effect is created by two necklines, one higher and constructed of a sheer fabric and one lower. The sheer fabric may even feature embroidered detail or sequin work on a ball gown or wedding dress. As for which body types can wear it, that all depends on the cut of the lower neckline.
This is considered a sophisticated and formal neckline, exposing the attractive décolletage without revealing the cleavage. This option is best for women with toned neck and chest areas. This style will also elongate the neck and balance out narrower shoulders. Because this style broadens the shoulders, it works great for pear-shaped women. Slim, small chested ladies look great in this style, provided they wear a padded bra to create some curves. Women with very round faces will benefit here because the square exposure will balance the effect perfectly.
This neckline plunges down in a half-moon shaped curve. Scoop neck type styles work well for almost every body type but, depending on your proportions, the scoop neck proportions should be the opposite…so narrow shoulders goes with a wide scoop, a narrow scoop goes with wide shoulders. This style can create the illusion of a large bust on a small busted woman or it can disguise the bust size on a full busted woman.
The halter neck is like an inverted v-neck which comes together behind the neck instead of ending on the shoulders so it will always be sleeveless. A crossover halter is a combination of this style and the crossover style below. The halter neck is a popular choice for sportswear, swimsuits and party dresses because of the support it provides in the bust area, while still being flattering. This style doesn’t work on women with downsloping shoulders as it will only accentuate the slope. This makes big breasts look a lot bigger and doesn’t really flatter larger ladies. This is ideal for sporty women or slim, small busted women with slender arms.
This would be like a strapless cut, often with a sweetheart neckline with straps starting close to the armpits and coming together behind the neck. This has all the benefits of a sweetheart or strapless cut but with the added support of the halter neck.
This high neckline is made by cutting the shoulder seams in an upward slant or curve. It will have the effect of shortening the neck and the overall silhouette. Big busted ladies should avoid this as it will make the breasts look lower set. This one looks best on square or slender gals with long necks and slim or oval faces.
Ending on the upper arm instead of on the shoulder, this neckline cuts straight across in a long line, exposing the whole collarbone and shoulders. Off the shoulder/open décolletage styles work best for ladies with a medium bust, toned shoulders and arms and a long neck, they should be avoided by ladies who are top heavy set or have a full bust or broad shoulders. Because of the shoulder broadening effect, this style balances proportions out on a lady with wide hips.
This stylish neckline is feminine and flattering on any body type and it's a great option for fuller ladies. It includes draping of excess fabric at the neck as a result of a bias cut.
A wide horizontal neckline, in-between a boat neck and an off-shoulder. This neckline might be fastened at the shoulders. For body type, follow the same rules as you would for an off-shoulder line.
This high or medium neckline will feature a keyhole-like opening or slit in front, similar to the slit neckline only this one will be fastened shut at the top of the slit. Body type benefits depend on the height of the scoop neckline.
This style comes high around the back of the neck and then cuts into a low round curve in front, shaped like a horseshoe.
Like any high neck garment, the effect will be that of shortening so this is a great option for offsetting a long neck or long thin face. This is a good option for slender women with a small bust or women with a square shape, provided they wear a padded bra.
This neckline is common in wrap shirts and dresses, where one side of the v-neck garment is laid over the other. Follow the same body type guidelines as for a v-neck.
This is a full gathered neckline, in the shape of a scoop which may be low or high, depending. It may be elasticated or fastened at the back.
This neckline is exactly like a gathered neckline, only it is gathered with the pull of a drawstring.
This is a variation of the square neckline, only it is very wide, exposing the whole collar bone. Body type rules are similar to those for an off-shoulder neckline.
Slash/Split/Notch neckline styles:
This style combines the round neck with the V-neck effect. Essentially it’s a scoop neck with a split cut in the middle. This flattering design is suitable for almost every body shape, provided you follow the rules for choosing your scoop neck cut. This style is popular for tunics and long sleeve garments and probably works best on petite women, although it can be a great way for larger ladies to show an inch of cleavage without going overboard. It’s very similar to the keyhole neckline, except with the keyhole, the top of the slit would be closed.
This is a very popular neckline, especially for office and formal wear. It’s high (at the base of the neck), rounded and modest, covering the whole chest and only revealing the neck. This style is best on a long necked woman. As with all high neck styles, it is best avoided by women with a very large bust as it will have the effect of making the breasts appear lower set.
Crew neck neckline:
Pretty much the same shape as the jewel neckline, except that this one will be finished with a band of some sort, you are used to seeing this neckline in t-shirts. The same rules apply as for the jewel neckline.
Formal, elegant and sophisticated, this is a sweetheart neckline or an open v-neck with fabric coming up over the shoulders from beneath the arms in diagonal lines so that the back is high and the full décolletage exposed. The upper part, covering the shoulders will often be made of a different or sheer fabric and this is a style we will see mostly in ballgowns and wedding dresses. Follow the same rules as you would for the open v-neck or sweetheart line.
This stylish and seductive neckline extends from beneath the arms up to the middle chest where a circular strap will support and fasten it behind the neck. It looks best on women with toned shoulders and slender arms, it will also make broad shoulders appear even broader so beware.
Here's a summary of the many neckline styles available to you. Click on the image to see the full-resolution version and right-click to download.
Keep this collection of necklines in mind next time you are looking for a dress to make. In the comments section, let me know if I missed any necklines. It would be great to include a picture and description if you have one.
Until next time!