Women’s fashion has a long history of evolving necklines, each coming with its own endless variations. While maybe not the first thing you consider, the neckline — the uppermost boundary of a garment — is a key factor in determining the overall look of an outfit. Different cuts, fits, and depths can suit different needs, flatter different parts of the body, and communicate the kind of look you’re trying to achieve.
Ultimately, your choice of neckline depends on your own personal tastes and needs. To help make sense of it all and give you an idea of what neckline best fits you, we’ve compiled them all in this helpful guide.
If Comfort Is Your Top Priority...
Appropriate for almost any occasion, the styles below are popular and practical. They do offer more than just comfort, but if you look for simplicity and convenience over all else, they should be at the top of your list.
The Crew Neck
Most commonly found in t-shirts and sweaters, the crew neck look is also referred to as the round neck or the jewel neckline (given that its shape resembles a small necklace). Round and cropped close to the neck, this neckline looks cool and effortless. It doesn’t draw much attention to the chest. Instead, the focus is on the chin and the face. Its inherent simplicity makes this neckline ideal for accessorizing.
Style Switch-Up: If you’d like the opportunity to show off your shoulders, the athletic looking muscle tank, which features a crew neck and no sleeves, is great for doing just that.
The Scoop Neck
The beloved scoop neck forms a cutout U shape below the neck. This universally flattering style offers comfort as well as a slightly softening effect due to its roundness. Leaving the neck and collarbone area free, the scoop comes in handy especially in those hot summer months.
Style Switch-Up: The wide scoop neck broadens the shoulders, thereby slimming the waist. Meanwhile, the deep scoop runs a bit lower, drawing attention to the chest.
The High Neck
Also called the turtleneck, this neckline approaches your chin. It was introduced into the fashionable circles of the 1960s to create a sought-after modern silhouette. But beyond that, it is perfectly comfortable and suitable for chilly weather. Much like the crew neck, the high neck gives great opportunity to accessorize with necklaces or layer with t-shirts, blouses, and jackets. High-neck tops can have long sleeves, short sleeves, or no sleeves at all.
Style Switch-Up: If you’re worried about covering your neck completely, opt for the ever-appropriate mock neck. It’s still warm and stylish while leaving a bit of room for skin.
The ruffle neck, on the other hand, has a sweet and vintage feel, perfect for poet’s blouses. If you’re a romantic, look for this one.
If You Want to Accentuate Your Curves:
An important factor of the neckline is where it draws the eye. Whether you’re looking to enhance subtle curves or flaunt what you naturally got, these necklines are ideal for creating flirty outfits that will complement the bust and create an hourglass shape.
The Sweetheart Neckline
The sweetheart neckline is form-fitted to the bust; it creates a heart shape that swoops inward at the center of the chest, and is frequently found in strapless or halter tops. Due to its shape, the sweetheart enhances the upper arch of the bust and can make a top look more feminine. Harkening back to the famous hourglass trend Dior popularized in the 1950s, this look is a feminine staple.
Style Switch-Up: A faint variation on the sweetheart neckline is the semi-sweetheart. For an equally sweet, but slightly more modest look, you may want to opt for this slightly more shallow version of the neckline. It has a similar shape but with a softer curve and less of a plunge.
The Cowl Neck
The cowl neck involves piles or folds of fabric that drape elegantly across the chest. Generally, it accompanies spaghetti strap tops, though it can also be paired with long sleeves in a style similar to a shawl. Whether it sits high or low, the extra fabric can create the effect of a larger bust, especially on smaller chests.
The Halter Neck
Also known as the halter strap, this style involves straps that draw inwards and behind the neck, revealing a heart or triangle of skin on the chest. Some even tie at the nape of the neck or leave the upper back bare. Because of the inward direction of the straps, this look creates the illusion of curves. It also brings attention to your shoulders and posture.
Style Switch-Up: Though it comes in different forms, the typical Grecian neckline involves the garment coming together over the bust and travelling upwards and behind the neck.
In a way, it’s the inverse of the halter neck while still creating that triangular shape. While the straps go in the same direction as the halter neck, the Grecian neckline differs in that it shows off the shoulders while fabric covers the bust.
Also commonly referred to as the wrap neckline, this style involves two edges of fabric that fold over each other, creating a V-shape. This style is most commonly seen on dresses that cinch as the waist, allowing for an hourglass figure to emerge. The wrap style is also very suitable for larger busts as it hugs and underlines natural curves.
If You Like to Show off Your Neck and Collarbone:
Focusing on the area above the chest can create an especially poised and feminine appearance while leading attention to the face. It’s also an opportunity to show some skin while still remaining appropriate for most settings. Take a look at these necklines to flaunt your décolleté area.
The Off the Shoulder Neckline
Also called the Bardot (after fashion icon Brigitte Bardot), this neckline is great for the romantics. The garment’s sleeves drop off the shoulder, highlighting the shoulders and collarbone. Like a princess and pirate in one, this look is both effortless and glamorous at the same time. It also flatterers all body types.
Style Switch-Up: The sister of this look is the one-off-the-shoulder neckline, which simply reveals one shoulder instead of two. The baggy sweater from the movie “Flashdance” brought this cute and flirty style into the cultural consciousness.
A classic and versatile style, the v-neck does what the name implies: creates a small V shape below the neck. This elongates the neck, and is a slightly more feminine version of the classic crew neck. Depending on its depth, the v-neck can also draw the eye downward to the chest and collarbone.
The Straight Across
Most often seen in strapless (or semi-strapless) tops, the straight across neckline does just that: creates a straight line across the bust, leaving the skin of the chest and shoulders uncovered. This puts all the attention on the shoulders, neck, and collarbone. It’s a common misconception that only women of certain endowments can pull this off, but with the right elastic and bra, anyone can rock this look.
If You Strive for a Sophisticated Look:
Though all necklines have their origins in history, there are some that are so timeless you’ll see fashion icons wearing them throughout the ages. Meant to create graceful shapes and good posture, these necklines add a bit of grace and poise to your style.
The Boat Neck
Also referred to as the bateau neck, the nautical-influenced boat neck is a wide yet high neckline that runs from one shoulder to the other. It is fairly straight and puts the spotlight on the face rather than the chest. Evening out the collarbone area creates an illusion of upright posture and elegance. Women of the English royal family are often seen in this elegant style.
Style Switch-Up: Named after its popularization in the film “Sabrina” starring Audrey Hepburn, the term Sabrina neck is often used interchangeably with the boat neck. However, there is a difference; this one slopes down slightly lower, and the ends of the neckline extend farther out to the shoulders, giving it a slightly more romantic appearance.
The Square Neck
A fashionable choice since the late 19th century, the square neck is similar to the scoop neck in that it lengthens the neck and shows off your collarbone; however, its straight lines form a square upon the chest; this creates a more structured look, can make your posture appear better, and also widens your shoulderline to slim the waist.
The Queen Anne
You can look at the Queen Anne as a combination of the sweetheart and halter neckline. It forms an elegant pattern across the chest, and, due to its strong shape, pulls the torso upward for better posture. This also has the added benefit of creating flattering curves and can accentuate the bust as well. As the royal name suggests, this look is classy and elegant while still being sweet and sexy, making it a favorite for bridal gowns.
The collar neck is very versatile; depending on its length and width, it can be modest, professional, retro, or sultry. Collar necks are also great for adding an element of androgyny to a look, especially when paired with pants. Apart from just a regular shirt collar, there are many other distinctions to play with as well.
Style Switch-Up: The Peter Pan collar sits snug around the neck and adds a bit of playfulness to an outfit. As its name suggests, it has a youthfulness to it that makes it great for cute dresses, or an interesting detail on top of a sweater.
Combining the intrigue of the collar with the elongating effect of the v-neck, the long panels of the Chelsea collar are a vintage look that has recently come back into fashion.
With a gathered neckline, fabric is pulled and bunched around the neckline, creating either slight folds or large pleated drapes. This line can sit high or low on the chest and be combined with other neckline styles. It instantly adds femininity and interest to any shirt or dress, as well as a vintage feel. If you wish to draw attention away from the shape bust for a more modest look, this is also a great style.
If You Want to Be Bold...
These necklines are meant to pull the eye and stand out--whether they call attention to your figure or your unique fashion sense, if you’re looking for something different, grab a top that sports one of these.
The Plunge Neckline
This style can come in a U shape, although a V is more typical. The neckline dips down the center of the bust, often low enough to reveal part of the stomach. It heightens the effect of the V-neck, creating a dramatic, elegant, and sultry look. The key to this neckline is the right undergarment. Though a glimpse at a bra underneath might be intentional, braless is usually the way to go with this peek-a-boo look.
The Asymmetric Neckline
The asymmetric neckline can come in different forms, though typically you’ll see it forming a slanted triangle, showing more of one side of the torso than the other. This look creates intrigue, mystery, and a modern art feel. By creating interest around the décolleté area, it is flattering on smaller chests in particular.
Style Switch-Up: The one shoulder neckline is a type of asymmetric neckline that involves just one strap or sleeve, leaving the other arm and shoulder bare. It’s a great opportunity to sport bracelets and other accessories on the sleeveless arm.
The Keyhole Neckline
With this neckline, the top of the garment sits close to the neck, yet a small cutaway––generally in a teardrop or “keyhole” shape––exists directly below the collarbone. This kind of neckline works great for all body types as it provides a balance between modesty and mystery, and allows you to show as much or as little skin as you like.
Whether you opt for style or comfort, modesty or sensuality, there are many necklines to choose from. As you’ve hopefully learned, there is a lot more to a neckline than just high or low. We encourage you to look around and find what you like. After all, while certain necklines are chosen to flatter or highlight certain areas, the one you choose is completely up to you and your personal style.