DRESSING ON THE SIDE: Shoulder to Shoulder

Move over crop tops, the body part having its day in the sun is the shoulder — and so well deserved.

Published July 17, 2014 5:00 AM
4 min read


BeadedneckAngela-thMove over crop tops, the body part having its day in the sun is the shoulder — and so well deserved.


angelas-dressBy Maureen Mancini Amaturo

Move over crop tops, the body part having its day in the sun is the shoulder — and so well deserved. Shoulders frame the body. They casually carry your draped coats and sweaters when your arms don’t want to. Shoulders inspired clothes hangers. Yes, shoulders had their day in the 40s and the 80s, but they are back in a new, softer way. More Bridget Bardot than Joan Crawford. There are enough shoulder-focused necklines for all of us. So, find the cuts and curves that flatter your figure and shoulder on.  


>Bateau or Boatneck 

This neckline rests above the cleavage and follows the curve of the collarbone. It’s a wide, shoulder-to-shoulder neckline that bares the shoulder tops with a graceful, soft line. Beautiful on both sleeved and sleeveless dresses or tops. Great for those who are less endowed. Its shape creates the illusion of a bigger bust. Especially flattering for pear-shape figures since it widens the shoulders and balances the wider bottom part of the body. Not a good choice for inverted triangle figures. This neckline will make broad shoulders look broader.  


OFF-THE-SHOULDER>Sweetheart Neckline 

Totally bare-shouldered and a bam-pow look for small-chested women. Literally shaped like the top of a heart with the curve of the heart top at the center of the collarbone. It brings attention to the upper body, so it’s great for shorter fashionistas. Smaller bust? This neckline will create the look of curves. The sweetheart neckline has such distinct lines and draws attention to the bust and shoulders, so skip the necklace. Jewelry would only crowd a look that already has a lot of great things going on.  



This is a shoulder-to-shoulder open neckline that rests lower than a boat neck. Often, it has a fold-over style across the neckline or fabric that drapes off the shoulders. In the spirit of its namesake, it’s a very sensual look. Like the boat neck, it’s great for pear shapes, not so good for inverted triangles. However it does work well on short or wide necks. This is also a good choice for small-chested women.



This one is all about the shoulders. So, know your bone structure. Wide shoulders? This look can make your shoulders look wider. Better on more curvy bust lines.   


>One Shoulder 

Maybe you can’t quite commit to total naked shoulders. Maybe you’re fickle or want the best of both worlds. Either way, this is a contemporary way to focus on your shoulders–I mean shoulder. Tip: No necklace, and wear a bracelet on the arm that has the covered shoulder.


>Cut-Out or “Cold Shoulder” 

With this one, you could be wearing a turtleneck or Peter Pan collar and still have exposed shoulders. The fun in this look is often the unexpected pairing of conservative or classic with a surprise detail. Cut-out shoulder looks can be bi-lateral or bare one shoulder only. This look has attitude written all over it.



Gorgeous on women with a fuller bust, long décolleté line, or a long and thin neck. Also, the inward angle of the halter tends to help broad shoulders look narrower.  



A neckline which lies just over the top of the bust and below the shoulders so both shoulders and collarbone are exposed.  Sleeves cover part of the upper arm. Sister to the Bardot, but this style does not have that fabric fold-over. Clean, sleek, cosmopolitan.  



A neckline that frames your shoulders and face while accentuating the bustline. This neckline has a wide, soft scoop from the tip of one shoulder to the other. It’s similar to the off-the-shoulder neckline, but the outer edges graze the upper portion of the shoulders, revealing the shoulder tops.   


>Bare Shoulder Basics 

Accessorize your bare shoulder look minimally. The shoulder should be the focal point. It’s a dramatic style. Keep jewelry simple. If you absolutely must wear a necklace, make it a delicate one. Necklaces are not the accessories for bare-shoulder looks, but earrings are. Attention-getting, shoulder-duster, dangle earrings draw the eye to the shoulder.


>Hair Styles for Bare Shoulders 

Don’t cover the shoulders. Try a French twist, messy bun, ponytail, or some kind of updo. These hair-dos bring attention to your neck and shoulders. And isn’t that the whole point of this look? A cute hair ornament works beautifully with bare shoulders.

If you must wear it down, keep it behind your shoulders. For a one-shoulder dress, long hair should be swept over to the side of the dress that has the strap or sleeve.


>­­­The Right Bag for Bare Shoulders 

Go for a clutch. Avoid shoulder straps or a wristlet. Keep the lines of the shoulder and arm smooth and clean without interruption.



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