The neckline is the top edge of a garment that surrounds the neck.
The neckline is primarily a style line, but it can also be a boundary for shaping, e.g., cowls, darts or pleats, similar to the waistline.
Types of necklines
Necklines can be grouped into categories according to their shape and where they cut across the body:
- wrap around the neck itself. Also called
- jewel necklines (circular)
- pass around the base of the neck on all sides. Also called the
- scoop necklines (curved, concave up)
- have a curved U shape, where the arms of the U pass over the shoulders. Scoop necklines can be demure or plunging, depending on the depth of the U.
- boat necklines (one edge, nearly linear)
- are necklines with a broad opening, but which pass nearly horizontally across the figure near the collarbones. Also called
bateau necklines or
- off-the-shoulder necklines (one edge, nearly linear)
- are similar to boat necklines in that they generally cut across the figure nearly horizontally, but significantly lower, below the shoulders and collar bone. Such neckline usually pass
over the arms but, in the
strapless neckline, may pass under the arms. These necklines accentuate the shoulders and neck of the wearer.
- one-shoulder necklines (one edge, nearly linear)
- asymmetrical linear necklines that cut across the torso diagonally, usually from one shoulder to under the other arm.
- halter necklines (linear, side edges converge on neck)
- feature a high neck with deep, raglan-type armholes or else two straps from the bodice that meet at the back of the neck. In both cases, they form diagonal lines that converge inwards to the neck from the sides. Although such necklines reveal a lot of shoulder, their convergence makes the shoulders seem smaller. Halter necklines can have a horizontal bottom edge, or their two side edges can meet in a V.
- V necklines (2-4 linear edges, side edges diverge)
- are formed by two diagonal lines from the shoulder that meet on the chest. These necklines can be demure or plunging, depending on the depth of the V. The surplice version of this neckline (known as a
portrait neckline) is a pretty alternative. The V may also be truncated by a small bottom edge, forming a trapezoid.
- square necklines (linear side edges neither converge nor diverge)
- are characterized by three linear edges, the bottom edge meeting the side edges at right angles. The bottom edge cuts across the figure horizontally and the side edges pass over the shoulders. A special case of this is the
slot neckline, in which the side edges are very close (roughly the width of the collar-bone points), forming a narrow slot.
- sweetheart necklines (side edges linear, curved bottom edge concave down)
- has a curved bottom edge that is concave down and usually doubly scalloped to resemble the top half of a heart. The side edges often converge on the neck, similar to halter necklines. Sweetheart necklines are good for accentuating the bosom.
- are akin to halter necklines, but the converging diagonal lines meet in front of the neck, forming a "keyhole". More generally, a neckline that features a central hole, usually just below the collar bones. These necklines are seen infrequently.
Learn more about the many different
types of necklines in our fashion industry terminology
Modifications of necklines
The shape of a necklines can be modified in many ways, e.g., by adding a collar or scarf, overlaying it with a gauzy material or decorating the edges with scallops, picots or ruffles. The neckline can be a sharp edge of fabric or a more gentle cowl, and can also be accentuated by pattern(s) in the fabric itself.
Ruffs were popular in the
Choice of a neckline
The neckline can frame the shoulders,
neck and face, and change their apparent
width, height and angularity. It is generally
advised that the neckline shape be chosen
to balance the wearer's natural features.
Thus, a face with round curves is well-framed
by an angular (linear) neckline and collar,
whereas an angular face is softened with
curves. Similarly, a short neck and face
will appear lengthened by necklines with
strong vertical (or nearly vertical) lines,
such as a plunging V neckline (or a long
knotted scarf or necklace); conversely,
high necklines such as the jewel or turtleneck
types balance long faces. Broad shoulders
can seem more narrow with style lines that
converge inwards (e.g., the halter neckline),
whereas pear-shaped figures can be balanced
by diverging or horizontal lines, e.g.,
an off-the-shoulder or boat neckline.
The designer should also consider the
amount of décolletage the wearer would like
and whether the visibility of undergarments
(such as bra straps) is relevant. These
factors may influence the depth and width
of the neckline, respectively.