BASIC NECKLINE TYPES, HISTORY, AND EVOLUTION
By definition a neckline is the upper portion of the garment that goes around the neck, especially from the front view.
There are sixty different variations of neckline treatments, however there are quite some that have been known for a long time and have been commonly utilized in the garment industry.
The most common are the following:
BOAT NECKLINE - it’s a high, wide, slightly curved neckline that passes past the collarbones and hangs on both shoulders; also called a bateau (French ba-toh, meaning a small river boat with flat bottom and pointed front) neckline or Sabrina neckline.
A striped boat neck shirt was used in sailors' uniforms by the French Navy in 1858. The wide, plain neck was designed to speed up a removal of the shirt in case a sailor fell overboard.
It found its place in fashion in the 1920s, and was completely popularised by Coco Chanel in the '30s.
Coco Chanel, 1930
In the '50s and '60s plain boat neck shirts were worn by artists, and became associated with beatnik culture.
Boat necks became popular once again in the 2010s as Meghan Markle was photographed wearing them, and the boat neckline was recognized as her signature style.
Clare Waight Keller - wedding dress designer
There is another famous female who is commonly known for wearing garments with boat necklines, and it is Audrey Hepburn, and she is responsible for the boat neckline nickname - Sabrina, named after a popular film released in 1954, where Audrey Hepburn played a character named Sabrina Fairchild.
Audrey Hepburn, 1956
A variation of a Boat neckline is a Portrait neckline.
The portrait neckline is a wide neckline that extends to the very edges of your shoulders. It's a beautiful neckline for framing your collarbone, especially if you want to show off a fabulous necklace. Portrait necklines are also a great option for supporting a fuller bust without completely covering up. Earliest use of portrait neckline term, or portrait collar in other words found in The Wisconsin Rapids Daily Tribune in 1940.
The name comes from livestock halters.
The word "halter" derives from the Germanic words meaning "that by which anything is held". Halter is in the German word Büstenhalter, a dated word for bra, with Büste meaning female chest and breasts.
Halter neckline is great for women with broad shoulders because it visually cuts the distance between two shoulders, as well as for swimwear to avoid sun marks.
It was named after its ability to showcase a piece of jewelry such as a pendant or brooch against the fabric. This cut is featured on a wide variety of both men’s and women’s garments, including T-shirts, sweaters, and dresses. Jewel necks are also particularly common in workout wear, and often featured on bodysuits, cycling shirts, and muscle shirts. Audrey Hepburn is responsible for popularizing jewel neck style as well.
Not to confuse crew neckline with scoop neckline.
SCOOP NECKLINE - is a curved U-shape low cut neckline. The depth of the scoop neckline can vary from subtle to plunging, depending on a garment functionality.
Wedding dresses available on Pinterest.com
Scoop necklines are commonly used in designs of wedding and other special occasions dresses and blouses and work very well in dresses for women with big bust.
Lately scoop necklines became increasingly fashionable among men too.
Not to confuse a scoop neckline with a deep or plunging neckline.
DEEP NECKLINE or PLUNGING NECKLINE - is a neckline that drops super low and could be any shape rather than strictly U-shape, like in a scoop neckline. It is definitely used to design special occasion gowns, especially wedding dresses and sometimes leisure wear, like comfy oversized sweatshirts. This neckline treatment is absolutely perfect for women with short “chunky” necks and short torso. Below are some examples of the beautiful mesmerizing plunging necklines.
Google search for dresses with plunging neckline style
Sexy sweaters for fall/winter with plunging neckline
KEYHOLE NECKLINE - these are similar to halter necklines, but the converging diagonal lines meet in front of the neck, forming a "keyhole". More generally, these feature a central hole, usually just below the collar bones. These necklines are seen infrequently in a garments’ mass production of everyday garments because of the complexity of the pattern and extra fabric usage. Most likely this neckline design would be used for custom orders of special occasion gowns and wedding dresses. Although variations of keyhole necklines with a slight adjustment to the original concept are possible, when it comes to production of basic tops and knit shirts. Below is a classic example of a keyhole neckline.
Key hole neck style is great for women with big bust because it allows an easy fit accommodation vs. fitted garments that involve a dart placement.
CARMEN - it is similar to boat necklines but are significantly lower, below the shoulders and collar bone. Usually these pass over the arms but, in the strapless neckline style, may pass under the arms. These necklines reveal and accentuate the wearer's shoulders, collar bone and neck. This neck style is common to the edge kind that we will discuss next.
Carmen neck style mostlikely took its origin from a French opera with the same name written by Georges Bizet that became popular in 1845, check out the image below. In other words, karmen is what we know now as an off - shoulder garment that is widely worn to all kinds of occasions and made out of a wide variety of fabrics, whether it is plain summer print rayon or a fancy satin. And, the technique of cutting and sewing of the drop shoulder may vary from a fitted kind to ruching and ruffling of the fabric.
EDGE - is a neck style similar to off-shoulder, except that the edge style is asymmetrical, and the garment is falling off of one shoulder or the other. This kind of neckline style is used to make sweaters, t-shirts, and a variety of tops and dresses for summer and special occasions.
ILLUSION NECKLINE - is basically a combination of low and high necklines in one, where the both are connected with a sheer transparent fabric, like lace or mesh.The lower part is definitely off the shoulder and could pass over or even under arms. This design is definitely to reveal shoulders, collarbone and neck and used for fencier garments’ designs. Check out the image below.
POLO NECKLINE - this is a high close - fitting collar that wraps around the neck itself, and is usually called turtleneck. It is the most common design for sweaters and knit dresses, although tops and woven dresses look very chic and stylish with that neck style. Here is the illustration.
SQUARE NECKLINE - These are characterized by three linear edges, the bottom edge meeting the side edges at right angles. The bottom edge goes across the figure horizontally and the side edges pass over the shoulders.
It is definitely an attractive feature without revealing too much skin. Sometimes, it is called a “neckline that means business”, as well as being very flattering for most body types.
Below is a great example.
SURPLICE NECKLINE - it is often called a “bathrobe” neckline because of the way it is formed by overlapping one panel over another in a wrapping motion.
A lot of times the upper layer is sewn to the bottom layer for functionality, unless the purpose is to create a wrap design. Here it is.
Surplice neck style is similar to V neckline in shape, yet the two are completely different designs in terms of how they were accomplished.
V NECKLINE - a type of neckline in the garment that comes to a point either on the throat or chest and is cut in the shape of the letter V.
Also, can not be confused for plunging neckline because plunging neckline is significantly deeper, and it could be achieved by employing various techniques including draping, for instance, that is not applicable for designing v-neckline.
V-necklines can not to be confused with portrait necklines either because in the portrait neckline the opening goes shoulder to shoulder, where V-neck has a narrower opening.
It is considered to be the most beneficial style to wear for the majority of women, unless a woman naturally has an extremely long neck.
It is commonly used for designing sweaters, however it looks very flattering on the garments made out of woven fabrics as well.
Check out an example below.
SWEETHEART - a neckline for women's clothing that is high in back and low in front where it is scalloped to resemble the top of a heart.
It is considered to be a very flattering neckline, when in most cases there is no need to incorporate darts in the garment in order to remove fabric excess formed around the bust.
Sweetheart neck style is known for being the most evolved over time, and the sweetheart seen in the garments these days are significantly different from the sweetheart neck style designed in 1940.
Here is an example.
1940 Sweetheart pattern
Photo: by Getty
1952 dress that made Marilyn Monroe famous
Photo by Getty
Madonna in 1990
Moschino Spring 2017
Angelina Jolie in Elie Saab dress at the Oscars 2009
Emma Watson in Kelvin Klein at the Met Gala 2016
Jennifer Laurance, photo by Jon Kopaloff for Getty