Considering Necklines

The wrong neckline can make you look heavier and shorter. A large bust appears even larger when a crew neck top is worn. Any neckline covering my collarbones makes my face look much rounder, shorter, and more substantial than I am. A V-neckline or a low scoop that falls about four inches below my collarbone is best for my inverted triangle shaped body and slightly puffy rounded face shape.

Even when I wear a scarf, I try to mimic a more flattering neckline. If you have broad shoulders, an ample bust, and a roundish face, a crew neck garment is a poor choice. Covering the collarbones makes the neck appear shorter and creates an almost horizontal line a few inches below the chin.

Long straight vertical lines around the face and on the torso are much better choices for someone with an inverted triangle shape. A woman with narrow shoulders, a slender face, a small bust, and delicate features looks terrific in boat, crew, and turtlenecks. Ruffles, ties, horizontal lines at the neckline, and details at the shoulders such as wide lapels or shoulder pads visually balance a more narrow upper body—the woman with a pear shape benefits from employing these details above the waistline.

My tank top in the photos above is by Chico’s. The cotton cardigan was from Cali & York a few years ago. The jeans are by Liverpool Jeans Company. The shoes are by Nine West. The orange bag is old by Dooney & Bourke. 

The video below shows examples of how to make a crew or round neckline look better on someone with my shape. The long sleeve Croft & Barrow tee is about four years old. I bought it at Kohl’s.

  1. Very useful advice, thanks. I’d find it really helpful if you could follow up with advice about necklaces, and what type to wear with which necklines, because I just can’t seem to get that right!

    1. As in hemlines that do not interfere or compete with the top of your shoes, the same rule should apply to your necklaces. Check my styling tips board here on Pinterest for helpful graphics and pictures.

  2. What a great post! Your explanation about exposing the collarbone finally clarified why some tops look so much better than others. Even though I am not as slim as you and don’t have an obvious collarbone, the correct neckline makes a huge difference (and now I understand why)!
    I’ve also been exploring the subject of which necklaces work with different necklines, but no-one has described the concepts so well as you have. As well, I now understand why a plain white (or very light colored) top doesn’t do us any favors if worn unadorned.
    I’d love to see more about your necklace and general jewelry choices. Also, any other tips about necklines would be wonderful. Do you have a “wish list” for future posts as I’m sure many of us could add our requests?
    I’ve noticed that you have added more “tutorial” style posts lately and you have attributed some photos and videos to Elizabeth Miller (who I believe is a professional photographer?). I assume this is because you have semi-retired and so have more time to devote to the blog and have expanded the content. I love these types of posts but hope you keep showing us snippets of your daily life and travel adventures with Mr. Mickey (those photos are just as professional but more personal). I live in Sydney Australia and will probably never get to visit your part of the world, so I love to join you vicariously.
    I hope you are well and happy. Enjoy this new stage of your life.

    1. Thank you for the compliment on Elizabeth’s work! She is my sixteen-year-old cousin. I am giving her her first work experience before she goes away to college to study Veterinary Medicine. I do welcome suggestions and questions that help me focus on subjects that might be helpful.

      1. What a great opportunity of work experience for Elizabeth – she certainly has a second option with photography (although Veterinary Science would be a dream occupation! ) You certainly are up bright and early (it’s 9 PM here but only 6AM in your neck of the woods!) . Have a great day.

  3. What about a slim face with narrow shoulders; but am large busted and heavier on top. I enjoy your blog and advise.

    1. Keep the details on the shoulders rather than on the bust. For example, ruffles add visual weight, so avoid them across the bustline. An uncluttered neckline and slender lapels will not add bulk to your bust.

  4. I have a similar build to yours and your tips are so valuable. Like the previous comments indicate, I never knew why some things looked better on me than others. I have different coloring than you and enjoyed your brown post recently, and your increased showing of comfort low heels shoes. Thanks so much for your professional and personal posts. The Australian comments were great and I agree with all of them. Plus I visit relatives in Australia often and your climate selections for clothing helps there too. Keep up the great work.

  5. I love the Liverpool jeans but Zappos only has up to size 8. Nordstrom’s doesn’t carry that style. Any suggestions?

    1. Try They are slow to ship because they have been moving their warehouse. Many boutiques also carry the line. I found them first at The Dande Lion in Banner Elk, NC.

  6. I love your tips! This video makes perfect sense to me and I will be using it for reference. Thank you for sharing your knowledge Susan.

  7. Your writing with great photos and video help illustrate the concept of dressing to flatter. Well done Elzabeth.
    About necklaces, I am short in height and am a little concerned the long necklace highlights my large chest – so I stick to above the bustling.
    Perhaps you could help on this.

  8. Your ;video is great. I love patterns and still like to wear them probably when I shouldn’t because I’m a thickish woman ( I lift weights and need to lose weight LOL). I apprciate the tips to bring the vertical shape that will help give me height. Your one of the few fashion sources that really teaches women of our age range. Thank you!

  9. I always enjoy your advice and understand how those solutions work for you. I, too, have a round face and ample bosom but also I am short waisted and have a very short neck and very narrow shoulders. When I get tops that fit through the bosom the necklines are always too large for my shoulders. Sometimes the neckline even falls down in the back because the necklines are too large and covering bra straps is always an issue. Any other suggestions? Thanks for all your help. I look forward to your blogs.

    1. Try working with a tailor to alter your tops and shirts to fit you perfectly. Buy two tops that fit your shoulders. Have your tailor add panels at the sides using the second top as the fabric source.

  10. Hi, Susan – This video was great because as you put each piece over your top, the elongating effect became obvious! As a (new) blogger, I have noticed that women are very interested in what to do with necklaces, scarves, and necklines. It is indeed a tricky subject. And your thoughtful observation has nailed it! Thanks for sharing your classy expertise with women who appreciate it – Angie,

  11. The blog post today and the video were both really helpful and informative, Susan!! Thank you for making the video!! Will look forward to more of these Also glad to hear you still like the Liverpool jeans… may have to invest in a pair!

  12. Good article and beautiful color combinations for fall. You seem to pull me in to buy things I wouldn’t have thought of and then I love it! I love your crepe pants! I also love this orange handbag and scarf. Gorgeous and I just ordered both!

  13. Crew, boat and turtlenecks are for me! V-necks don’t work so well for me, unless I add a scarf or short necklace to fill the V.

  14. Susan
    Your videos are so helpful. I have a similar body shape and many crew necks. I’ll use your tips and when I buy new, I will go for V-necks, etc. thanks

  15. Thanks Susan. I’m one of those round faced cherubs and these tips are wonderful. Thank you for taking the time to prepare a video.

    1. I have several types of jeans including Chico’s, J.Jill, Ralph Lauren and Liverpool. I have been wearing the Liverpool with shorter tops lately because they have the smooth waistband. If I wear a shirt that I partially tuck in, I wear one of the other pairs with loops and a zipper.

  16. Thank you Susan for explaining this topic so well. I am just the opposite of you with very little up top, thin neck, narrow shoulders. I keep thinking that nothing looks better than a crisp white button collared shirt. I keep buying them and I they just don’t look good on me. With your explanation here about necklines I think I’m figuring out that is the problem. Thank you.

  17. You always look lovely and give good advice.
    I am tiny and love being tiny so dont need to try to look taller. I wonder why it is thought to be somehow better to look taller? This has always puzzled me. Do you have any thoughts on the matter?

  18. I love scarves. But I have trouble keeping it in place as the day progresses. I like the “thrown over the shoulder” look but find myself fighting with it during the day. How can I keep it in place?

  19. Question: How do you manage to get into your Shapeez? I bought the ultimate and tankee, and they both take forever to put on. They roll up, are tight (and I have the correct size), and so I almost never reach for them. I know you can’t show a video (ha!), but perhaps you can explain any tips.

    Thank you.

    1. Gather the body and the cups in your hands as you would when putting on pantyhose. Step into the bra and pull it up over your hips, un-gather it as you pull it up by the body (never the straps). When you get the bra in place, slip your arms through the straps and adjust as needed. To remove, repeat the steps in reverse and step out.

  20. I think these are some of your most helpful tips.
    I don’t have a large chest and usually stay away from v-necks because I think they make my chest looker flatter than it already is, but I do have a round face. Given my trade-offs it’s better to add a layer or scarf for more chest volume, and use the neckline to elongate my face.

  21. Just came across your site and am very impressed. Thanks for your generosity and courage in sharing what has worked for you. I make custom garments for clients, most of them well over 50, and get a lot of questions about styling tips. I’m going to refer all of them to you!

  22. Hi Susan, I had to come back to this post and tell you that what I learned here about necklines for different body types really bears out. I’ve been flying a good bit recently and being near Atlanta it’s all Delta and I really wanted to like their new purple Zach Posen designed uniforms but I just don’t and at least one reason is the neckline on the fitted purple dress. It does nothing for most women with normal to ample upper bodies because it is too high! They should have consulted you and cut that neckline to show some collarbone. I saw the dress on a tiny, slight woman and thought, “That’s not half bad” and then realized it was the neckline because of you! She could sport that neckline but it does no favors to the vast amount of her otherwise lovely coworkers.

  23. Hi Susan,
    What are your recommendations on wearing a belt? It defines the waist but also creates a horizontal line in an unflattering place, the waist? I am an hourglass shape but not proud of my waistline. I have the “just turned 60” mid section.

  24. Thank you! I am 60 now and trying to find styles that will keep me looking “young”. I have wrinkles and sagging skin and I don’t know how to dress anymore. Your video was specific and helpful. Thanks!

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I share tips and inspiration for using what you already have in contemporary ways. Defining words include effortless, classic, refined, discreet, and elegant. My style is chic, minimal, and timeless with a bit of edge.