How the Right Neckline Can Help You Look Your Best

by Anna Villaruel
(Seoul, South Korea)

May 4, 2012: I’m aware that a lot of us give more thought into the color, style and shape when buying a garment… But did you know that selecting the right neckline can pay off too?

The right neckline can take pounds off your frame, elongate or shorten your neck/torso and also help fill out a small chest. In short, the right neckline can be a quick-fix to our common body figure-issues! And this is a big bonus if you want to look your best on your wedding day or for any special occasion that may just be around the corner :-)

The wrong and right neckline
See how a lower neckline can slim down a large bust and how it makes the body look slimmer?
Courtesy of Avenue


So how do you know what neckline looks good on you?


Your body figure can determine what neckline to choose but in my opinion, the size/shape of the area around your chest such as face is of greater importance.

In general, there 3 pointers to keep in mind when buying a top, shirt, swimsuit or dress:
  • 1. Your Bust Size
  • 2. Your Face Shape & Neck Length
  • 3. Your Body Shape
... When in doubt, select a regular V-neck or scoopneck that isn't too low and ends right above the dip of your cleavage - they're universally flattering! :-)

Let me explain in details how to choose a neckline based on these 3 pointers:

Your Bust Size

Your choice of neckline can either emphasize or downplay your chest size. It can make a small chest look bigger or slim down a large bust.

Small Bust


Because of your slim chest, higher necklines such as boat necks (also called 'Bateau') and crewnecks work better on you. You might also like cowlnecks – the draping helps “plump” up your babies.

However, if you have a short torso or/and are 5'4 or shorter, you'll look best with low'ish V-necks and scoopnecks because they raise and elongate your petite silhouette. If your small chest size is not an issue, then choose whichever neckline you prefer or simply wear a push-up bra ;)

Best necklines for a small chest

Here are some details that will make your bust look bigger:
  • Gathering, pleats, knots, twists and/or ruching at the bodice
  • Bust-enhancing necklines such as sweetheart and bustier

Large bust


You need a lower neckline but not too low to prevent drawing attention to your large bust. "Sexifying" your image would be inappropriate for certain occasions. Look for V and scoop necks that end right at the top of your cleavage.

Best necklines for a large bust

A covered-up-style (aka high neckline) shortens your neck and can over-emphasize your chest. Also keep in mind that this can create unflattering uni-boobs! That’s why you need a lower neckline to encourage the eye to climb up and down on your body frame.

You might also want to go for a top that has minimal details - or perhaps if you want to wear a necklace, scale the jewelry piece to your bust size.

Something in the middle (average B-cup)?


Then you’ll be able to pull off a wide variety of necklines. But you'd want to take the next two pointers (Face Shape- & Neck Length and Body Shape) into proper consideration.


2. Your Face Shape & Neck Length

A neckline can either:

1. Draw the eye up and down (slimming effect), or
2. Encourage the eye to move from side to side (widening effect)

Basically, low and slim necklines help trim down a full face and elongate a short-to-average neck - while a higher and wider neckline shortens a long neck and widens a narrow face.

Also keep in mind that the more skin you show around your chest thus more “open” and slimmer your face, neck and bust will appear – creating a lean, elegant silhouette.

Best necklines that widen and slim your face shape - shorten or elongate your neck length
Courtesy of Bailey 44 (left) and Haute Hippie (right)

If you’re planning on wearing earrings, necklace or a scarf – then these accessories alone can counter the widening/slimming effects of a neckline. This means you can wear almost any neckline you want as long as you accessorize it correctly.

How to accessorize a neckline to look slimmer
Courtesy of Avenue

However - crew necks are tricky beasts when worn alone – and accessories won’t help that much because of its high neckline (it distracts and putting on a necklace to counter this tends to clutter up your outfit). But it can work if you choose a crew neck top in a similar color to your skin tone or/and you already have a long neck.

If your face shape and neck length contradict this rule - for example, you have a short neck and a long face to go with – work on the face and neck separately with jewelry, makeup and/or hairstyle.

More fashion advice:

Learn more on how to style your face shape


Click here to learn more about selecting the right jewelry styles


3. Your Body Shape

Another important factor that can steer you in the right direction when selecting a neckline is your body shape. Why? Because the right neckline helps balance out your body figure. It can make prominent curves look slimmer (by widening your upper body so that it draws the eye away from your hips) - creating a proportional body silhouette, giving you curves on all the right places.

Determine if you have a prominent shoulders and chest or vice versa. This helps you place focus on choosing a neckline that either slims or widens.

So if you feel that your shoulders are narrow (compared to your lower body), add width to them with straighter and higher necklines. Or if you’re self-conscious about your wide shoulders or bust and want to make the size difference between your lower and upper body less obvious - work with a neckline that slims, drawing the eye up and down such as a V-neck or a low scoopneck.

If your body shape is not an issue for you - focus on the two first pointers!


Lots of luck to you on finding your best neckline! :-)


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