The Best Neckline For Your Face and Body Shape
Necklines come and go in popularity. One year the cowl is everywhere; the next, you see boat necks in every store. Knowing which shape flatters your silhouette can be a helpful tool when choosing tops and dresses. Below you will find some proportion tips to help you choose the best neckline for your face and body.
“Fashion is architecture: it is a matter of proportions.” – Coco Chanel
Let’s start with your body shape. This post has been very popular, so I’ve updated it with fresh information and links.
Round or apple-shaped figure
The round or apple body shape is narrow on the top and bottom and fuller through the tummy. Your shoulders may be wide, narrow, or rounded, and your backside tends to be flat. Scoop and deep V-necklines are flattering for you because they elongate the look of your torso and draw attention to your face. Turtlenecks will make your bustline look larger.
Triangle body shape
Triangle or pear-shaped figures have narrow shoulders and wide hips. A bateau, square, cowl, and jewel neckline add width to balance your hips. V-necks are universally flattering, but the high, wider versions are most flattering for you because they draw the eye out toward your shoulder.
Inverted triangle figures have wide shoulders and narrow hips. They often have flat backsides and little or no waist definition. Cowl, halter, deep scoop, and V-necks can be most flattering on you.
Rectangle body shape
The rectangle body shape is straight up and down with little or no waist definition. Halter, deep scoop, and deeper V-necklines look great on you. Asymmetrical necklines and shawl collars add softness which adds balance to your straight silhouette.
The hourglass silhouette is balanced through the shoulders and hips with a well-defined waistline. Crew, scoop, boat, and V necklines are all flattering. Boxy tops are not your friend and make you appear larger than you are.
In addition to body shape, your neck length and face shape also plays a role in your most flattering necklines.
Examples of the best neckline for your face and body shape
Boat or bateau neckline
These look great on women with long necks and faces because they draw the eye horizontally. They help widen the look of narrow shoulders and balance wide hips. Boat necks look great with oval and round faces. They are less flattering on wide shoulders.
MORE BOAT NECK TOPS
These are universally flattering. They’re especially helpful for women with broad shoulders and short necks because they expose more of your dé·colle·tage, which helps draw the eye up toward your face. This neckline helps petite women look taller and adds visual balance to a pear figure.
This is almost universally flattering because it lengthens a short neck and provides balance for a square jaw. It creates the illusion of curves and accentuates the bustline in a modest way. The wide neckline helps balance the hips in the hourglass, rectangle, and pear-shaped figures.
Crewnecks draw attention to your face and neck. They can accentuate a large bustline, make your neck look shorter, and make your face appear rounder. The crewneck looks great on a narrow or angular face. They’re less flattering with broad shoulders.
A looser, more relaxed version of the crewneck. These elongate a short neck and help balance a long face. A large and long scoop flatters the small bust and short neck. A deeper scoop accentuates a large chest and makes your neck appear longer. Angular faces look great with scoop necklines.
Cowlnecks flatter both large and small bustlines and work with most face shapes. Lighter-weight cowlnecks are the easiest to wear because bulky fabrics make your neck look shorter.
MORE COWLNECK TOPS
These look great with a long neck and face. They accentuate the bustline. Be sure there is space between the top of the neckline and your chin. Double chins are seldom flattered by these:) Turtlenecks can make wide shoulders look wider.
Finding your personal style is often a journey of trial and error. Knowing the most flattering proportions to help balance your silhouette can be a great tool while shopping and save you a lot of time.
Do you have a favorite neckline? I’d love to hear which one and why in the comments.
Thanks for reading, and remember to wear what makes you feel confident!
Jennifer, thank you! This is a great blog topic. For my rounded, hourglass, I really like cowl and v-necks, but I do purchase lots of crews which I often add a longer necklace or scarf draped low to elongate the look. You always do such a good job teaching women ways to accentuate our looks.
Great point about necklaces and scarves changing the neckline!
This is such a great article, Jennifer! I’ve pinned this for future reference. Your photo examples are very helpful. With a short neck and square jaw, this motivates me to weed out unflattering top from my closet. Thank you.
I like Land’s End V neck tops, and they are well made. The sales are good right now. I noticed most t-shirts out there are poor quality and stretch out. Lans’s End tops seem to last.
Thanks for these tips on necklines.
There we go! The best necklines aren’t just about balancing your body shape. Neck length and face shape are important, too. This truly is a case of trying things on to see what’s best.
As a pear shape with a long neck and angular face, my best neckline is the crew neck. The roundness softens my face shape and balances my long neck. Recent fashion seasons have brought bateau and square necklines that are too wide, to the point of falling off my narrow shoulders; older items are just right. V-necks make me look like a bobblehead, but I can wear a collared shirt left open to create an a high v-shape. Turtlenecks work, but mock necks are better; they would not suit someone with a short or wide neck, regardless of body shape. Patterns on top, especially horizontal stripes, add to the illusion of width. It’s the combination of all these things that creates balance. Also, adding a scarf or hoop earrings can enhance the illusion of upper body width. Color plays a role here, too. Most pears know that dark on bottom, light on top is a winning formula (it can be done even in a column of color by choosing a slightly darker shade on bottom).
Thank you once again. Things are rarely as simple as they appear at first glance.
Long time reader. I’m an hourglass with a 36DD bust. I love a boatneck top but with a larger bust, comes a bigger bra. The dilemma is my bra straps showing which for me is a no go. I always wear the same bra color if I can but that can be difficult. So, I’m constantly messing with them to push them in. Any ideas other than not to wear them?
Hi Karen What about fashion tape? It will keep your straps tucked under the edge of your boatneck top.
My thoughts exactly! I love that stuff.
Have you tried using this Hollywood fashion tape under your bra straps? It’s worth a shot. I swear by this stuff for so many things.
I have the same problem, Karen! I’m not an hourglass shape but I have narrow shoulders. I’ve tried fashion tape but it’s just annoying. I don’t feel up to wearing a strapless bra. But I love the boatneck and similar styles too.
I solved that issue by having my favorite alterations person sew in bra strap holders in the shoulder seams. Permanent solution at minimal cost for keeping my straps in place. I have them in all of my sleeveless tops & other styles of tops that don’t quite cover my broad shoulders.
For years, it was a stroke of luck if I found something that seemed to flatter my shape. That’s exactly why I would end up taking things home that would never work. When I know what style best suits my shape it makes my shopping more deliberate. I can pass on those so called bargains. Now I tell myself that they may have the prices slashed on items because no one else wanted them either!
What a useful post! Thank you!
I am a tall, long-waisted, slim hourglass though with a narrow, somewhat rectangular face. As a result, scoop neck is the most flattering on me with V-neck in 2nd place. I agree with Bea about stores like JJill being in a neckline rut. More variety, please! I loved this article, Jennifer!
I can see why you’d love the scoop and V. I agree with Bea too 🙂
Great information. Enjoyed all the comments. I personally found the bateau neckline the best for me for layering my outfit with a cardigan or blazer. I have several short v neck and scoop neck pullovers but the bateau (boat neck ) is my favorite. My cotton turtleneck’s are worn with pullover sweaters in winter.
Have a lovely day everyone
Bateau necklines look so elegant to me but aren’t flattering on my shape.
Jennifer, this type of post sets your blog apart for me. It’s more than “if you like clothes,” but “show the best you.”
I am not overweight, but have been cursed with an apple figure. Fortunately, V necks and scoop necks have become more available in recent years. When the V is too steep, I wear a blouse underneath, unbuttoned to modify the depth. I have often wondered why crewnecks are so common when they favor few customers.
Crew necks are not great on me either. I feel like I settle for them because they’re so prevalent! I have an upcoming post on dressing the apple figure that you may enjoy.
I’ve read through the article and comments and am feeling inspired and uplifted with everyone sharing.
I’m an hourglass spoon, which is a bit rare, so finding clothes is an intuitive game and can quickly become a disaster.
As we are less than 10% of the population, so it takes a certain mindset to find clothes, that flatter and fit.
Wrap tops, dresses and jackets are good. Form fitting clothes, pencil skirts, and floor length high/mid rise jeans all work.
The jeans may be skinny, slim straight, wide straight, or cigarette. Materials such as organic cotton and hemp win.
After reading this I’m still not sure what neckline suits. A form fitting silk turtleneck? A mid-v? A crew or scoop?
Love to hear any feedback and thoughts, as well as accessory suggestions, colors, haircuts and anything else I forgot!
I have a medium short bob with wide shoulders. Shoulders a bit bigger than bust, legs about 31.5 inseam.
Love to hear back about how I can better dress myself a bit and to learn some tips and tricks!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
If your shoulders are larger than your bust, I would question the hourglass shape. I use bone structure to determine silhouette, not our fleshy parts.We cover many of those things here so I’m glad you’ve joined us
I just LOVE to sit with AWSL whenever I get a little free time in the morning. It’s so much fun. Whenever I browse the racks I always remind myself to “Check The Neck” which quickly edits the selections and saves me a lot of money. I always wear short hair and need some interest at the neck, opting for bateau, boat and turtle necks. But just yesterday I pulled out an old V neck sweater which I hardly wear unless I wear a sleeveless turtle neck underneath, but it was too warm. Then I checked my accessories box which is ancient and found 2 shirt collar “Dickies” which I haven’t worn in YEARS!
PERFECT! Feel like I can update so many sweaters now. Glad I decided not to donate them.
I seldom donate accessories for just that reason!
I am definitely a Round Shape but with 34DD bust line- deep V shirts are a definite no for me, especially in professional attire. Being only 5’4″ adds another level of difficulty it getting an over all flattering fit.
Love this! And the slide shows/neckline descriptions make it so clear! I have a round shape with narrow shoulders and a short neck. A trick I use is to add a long (untied) scarf or a long necklace over a round neck top to fool the eye. Many V necks are too deep or gape above my bust because of my narrow shoulders/big bust. So I get the same effect of a lengthening V neck with my trick.
I do the same thing with scarves and necklaces, Christine
A public-service announcement 🙂 for those who want a more modest V neck
With my square face and short neck, I like a V-neck tee — but also have a goiter and short hair, so I want shirts that are cut closer to my neck rather than the wide Vs so often available. Norm Thompson offered the perfect solution, a narrow-V, cut a bit higher in the back, so it has a little more style. Even though NT has gone out of business, the shirt seems to be offered still at Appleseeds here.
I think I have 18 of these shirts in various colors and sizes. I’ve found that (like all clothes) one item can be cut a bit differently than another depending on where in the stack it was when the cutter came down, so dimensions can vary. Still, excellent choices.
Thanks for sharing that Karen. I am always on the lookout for modest v necks.
Great article. If you find any tops with Vee necks that are not cut too low please let me know. I don’t like a neckline that shows too much when I bend over.
I am on a hunt for modest v necks too. I’ll share what I find.
Definitely pinned this article, Jennifer for reference purposes. I honestly can’t recall if I ever have worn a crew or boat neck (exception — a jacket neckline or perhaps a button-up cardigan sweater which I would leave the top two buttons undone) and I do avoid mock-turtle necks. All said; kind of makes you sympathetic for men since their pickins are slim when it comes to choices in necklines … ☺.
You’re right. I’ve yet to see men have our options 🙂
Awesome post! So helpful…Thanks!!!
Great post, but I’m not sure which category I fit in. In my younger days, I was pear-shaped. Menopause took away my waist – or should I say that all the extra weight I am now carrying is located from bust line to my thighs. Proportion wise, my hips/thighs are probably still wider than the rest. But my tummy and rear are big too. Bra is 36DD. My face is round, which also affects neckline choices. Which of your categories would be best for me?
Joan I hear you! I would like to hear about this also. I used to be an hourglass but my middle has thickened and my face has gotten rounder. So what happens when you are somewhere between two shapes?
I generally look at bone structure which doesn’t change. If you were an hourglass and your middle has thickened, you may be closer to a rectangle now.
It’s sounds like you’re still a pear shape Joan
I call this the “nashi”, or apple pear. 😉 It seems to be quite common at a certain age. This means incorporating elements of both the round and pear shapes, so it’s a matter of experimenting and trying things on to see what’s best. The necklines that suited you before might not be the best now.
I find this to be very helpful.
I happy to know that it helps.
Took me years to figure out that I just didn’t like crew necks. I always felt uncomfortable in them. There’s always a reason why we feel uncomfortable but we may not understand it. We need to feel comfortable above all in our clothes I think. Necklines are such a great thing to talk about. Thanks, Jennifer.
I couldn’t agree more, Eve. We have to feel comfortable in our clothes.
Super article – so helpful. I have a pear body type, small shoulders and bust. Guess this is why my favorite t-shirts are bateau & boat neckline from Gap. I have them in all colors. So easy to throw a scarf on to change the look or wear by themselves.
Always so helpful …thanks for the great information, Jennifer!
I can see from this I need to rethink my necklines! I have stayed away from V-necks due to my age and feeling like my upper chest isn’t what I need to emphasize, but since I am big busted (and wish I wasn’t) I will have to now look at V-necks in a different way:) I also have liked wearing some turtlenecks but see now that those are not my friends! I have never thought of necklines all that much, so thanks for sharing this information.
Higher v necks will be most flattering for you any maybe more comfortable too. Keep in mind if you love something, you should wear it!
Love this. I’m a classic rectangle now and have been trying to figure out what to wear. Now I know why the deep neck Everlane tees are one of my favourites!
I just got my first one in the Navy and am in love!
Great information!! Thank you
Very informative post. I’ll be looking at necklines from here on.
So helpful! Thank you!
I wish stores would arrange clothing by body type.
That would be awesome!!
Great tips, Jennifer! I used to love turtle necks, but lately I’ve been wearing mock necks and cowls. They are more flattering at my age.
Fabulous tips! Thank you, Jennifer. I usually look best in V neck, scoop, or cowl neck tops, but many stores are stuck in the crew neck or boat neck rut (think JJill). Often I buy these types of tops because I like the fit, color or fabric.
Your article is a reminder that maybe I should pay more attention to the necklines of the garments I buy. Enjoy your day!
I have trouble finding my favorite V necklines at several retailers too. Talbots, for example, make much more crew and boatneck than Vee.