Types of Dress Necklines

by Sarah Mollman ; Updated September 28, 2017

Select a dress with a neckline that suits your needs.

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When selecting a dress, most women look for one that complements the legs or waistline. Whether you are apple-shaped or have broad shoulders, the best way to highlight your assets is to choose a dress with a neckline that complements both your body type and the occasion. For example, strapless necklines are typically selected for wedding gowns, and a halter neckline is often worn to a cocktail party.


A dress with a strapless neckline appears just as it sounds -- like a dress with no straps. It can be straight across or a sweetheart neckline, which is curved inward to look like the top half of a heart. A strapless neckline is a popular choice for wedding gowns, especially for weddings during warm weather. This neckline works well for a woman who wishes to show off her collarbone or shoulders. It looks best on a woman with a larger chest, but may require a strapless bra.

One Shoulder

A dress with a one-shoulder neckline has only one strap. The shoulder strap can be plain or embellished with fabric flowers, lace detailing, sequins or beading. This style works well for a woman with a small chest, especially when it has embellishments that can create the appearance of a larger chest. This can also work well for a woman with a larger chest may want to wear a strapless neckline, but feels more comfortable with a little support from a strap.


The halter style neckline features a scoop or V-neck with straps that wrap up around the neck. The straps are sometimes two separate straps that must be tied together. This sleeveless style emphasizes the shoulders, arms, collarbone and bust line. It works well for women with broader shoulders, because it gives the illusion of narrower shoulders. The halter looks best on taller women.


A dress with a boatneck neckline features a broad opening over the collarbone from one shoulder to the other. It may have a small curve or v in the front as well. This is a more modest look as it covers much of the chest, but shows skin at the collarbone. Avoid wearing this neckline if you have full arms or broad shoulders. It works well for women of all figures and bust sizes. Petite women can wear this style well.

Shaped Necklines

Several basic necklines have a specific shape. The "V" neckline creates a V with two diagonal lines that meet in the center of the chest and is seen on dresses with thick straps, short sleeves, three-quarter sleeves or long sleeves. The V can be plunging or modest. The scoop neckline is on dresses with or without sleeves and gives a woman a more covered look. The scoop neck is a small, U-shaped curve at the neckline. The square neckline goes straight across the chest and then upward toward the shoulders on each side, creating a square shape.

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About the Author

Sarah Mollman began writing for "The Northern Iowan" newspaper in 2005. She was awarded scholarships from the Department of English at the University of Northern Iowa for Outstanding Short Story and Outstanding Personal Essay in 2008. Mollman holds a Bachelor of Arts in English Teaching from the University of Northern Iowa.