Choosing a wedding dress neckline that flatters you is key to looking and feeling your best on your special day. With so many options to choose from, Avery Austin put together this guide to help you understand the different types of wedding dress necklines. Not to be confused with different strap or sleeve styles, the wedding dress neckline is all about the shape of the dress near the neck and collarbone. (Of course, we’ve also got guides about different types of straps and sleeve lengths, if you’d like to learn more about those too!)
Throughout this guide, we’ll cover the following topics, so feel free to skip ahead to any topic you wish to focus on by clicking the links below!
- Types of Wedding Dress Necklines
- How To Choose a Wedding Dress Neckline
From sweetheart and v-neck to illusion and high neck, the options are seemingly endless, but by the end of this guide, you’ll have a better understanding of the wedding dress necklines currently available for brides. More importantly, you’ll walk away with plenty of tips for choosing the wedding dress neckline that’s best for you. First, let's get a general understanding of all of the different types of wedding dress necklines you may encounter when you start shopping for your dream gown.
Types of Wedding Dress Necklines
In this section of the Wedding Dress Neckline Guide, we'll break down the characteristics behind each neckline type. Let's start with a classic bridal favorite: the sweetheart neckline.
- What it is: Named for its resemblance to the shape of the top of a heart, the sweetheart neckline is one of the most popular choices for brides. It’s no wonder since this shape is flattering on nearly every body type! (More on that in the next point…) Thanks to the naturally feminine shape and soft, rounded edges, it’s also known as the princess neckline.
- How it Flatters: Whether you're petite or plus size, a sweetheart-neckline wedding dress will give you a gentle lift and make your waist look smaller. Considered one of the best wedding dress necklines for busty brides, the rounded shape enhances your natural curves along the bustline. Paired with straps or sleeves, the sweetheart wedding dress can also be great for those with smaller bust too, as the enclosed heart shape can give the illusion of a larger bust and a longer and leaner appearance.
Think this neckline might be right for you? Check out Avery Austin’s sweetheart wedding dresses.
- What it is: As the name suggests, this type of wedding dress neckline features a v-shape. The depth of the V can vary from modest to plunging (more on plunging necklines below), so you can choose a v-neckline that suits your preferred level of modesty or sexiness.
- How it Flatters: Like the sweetheart style, v-neck wedding dresses also flatter nearly every body type. The downward point directs the eyes in a vertical way, creating a visually slenderizing effect. Especially good for any bride with a small bust, a v-neckline frames your chest to give you a gentle lift and make your bust look slightly larger. On the other hand, a bride with a large bust may find the wider or deeper cuts of the v-neck style to be very revealing or prone to wardrobe malfunctions, so it’s important to move around a lot when trying on this type of style to see if you’re comfortable with the look and fit.
- Extra Perks: The v-shape is perfect for accessorizing with longer necklaces, like pendants or drop necklaces.
Falling in love with the v-neck style? Shop Avery Austin’s v-neck wedding dresses to find your favorite.
- What it is: Reserved for the boldest brides, the plunging neckline is one of the most daring types of wedding dress necklines. Sleek and sexy, plunging-neckline wedding dresses show off flashes of skin down to your torso. Often following the same shape as the v-neckline, this style plunges down toward the waist and typically stops anywhere between the bottom of the bust and the top of the waistline. If you're looking to make a statement on your wedding day, this is the neckline for you!
- How it Flatters: The plunging neckline visually creates the illusion of a longer torso and breaks up the width of the chest for a more slender silhouette. Great for accentuating cleavage, this wedding dress neckline is best suited for those with a small bust. Even though most plunges are supported by illusion paneling to prevent wardrobe malfunctions, bustier brides may be more comfortable in a neckline with more support or coverage.
- Extra Perks: Plunging necklines usually feature some kind of unique embellishment to lend them some extra support. This means a plunging neckline also gets you extra stylish flair with something like a chic sheer inset, loosely laced corset straps, or tiered thin strips of fabric or lace.
- What it is: The scoop neckline is rounded in a curved shape that dips low and wide, though not as wide as a bateau neckline (more on that style next!). Simple and comfortable in design, scoop-neck wedding dresses are a great match for brides seeking a no-fuss, laid-back style. This neckline can be found in varying degrees of "scoop," so you have options to explore with this design.
- How it Flatters: Scoop necklines accentuate the collarbone and lengthen the neck to create a sleek, lean look. The scoop neckline is universally flattering on all body types and available on almost every style of wedding gown silhouette.
- Extra Perks: The shape of the scoop neckline makes it very easy to wear almost any necklace style, from collars to long, hanging pendants.
- What it is: The bateau neckline, also referred to as boatneck or Sabrina, is a bit more unique than some of the other wedding dress necklines on this list. This neckline gently grazes the collarbone and scoops softly from the far edge of each shoulder. Fun fact: A staple of Old Hollywood, this vintage neckline is making a comeback after Meghan Markle strutted down the aisle in a gorgeous bateau-neckline gown to marry Prince Harry.
- How it Flatters: Drawing the eyes out toward the shoulders, the bateau neckline gives the illusion of better posture. The width of this wedding dress neckline is great for visually broadening your shoulders and balancing out a smaller chest area.
- What it is: Just as the name implies, this kind of neckline cuts straight across the chest. Straight necklines are also sometimes called square necklines when there are shoulder straps that create 90 degree angles, giving the illusion of a square shape (as the name implies).
- How it Flatters: Since the straight neckline shows off the collarbone, it is a universally flattering option. Especially appealing to brides with broad shoulders, straight-neck wedding dresses create a stylish frame without exposing too much skin.
- What it is: Rising to popularity in the 1930s, cowl necklines feature draped fabric across the neckline, usually in a scoop shape. Inspired by the draped, flowing fabrics of Ancient Greek fashions, cowl necklines flow with the body’s curves, rather than fitting tightly to them.
- How it Flatters: The soft drape of the cowl neckline can lengthen the appearance of your torso, visually minimize the bust, and, when the cowl dips low, camouflage the stomach area. Skimming, rather than clinging, cowl-neck wedding dresses provide a soft, feminine shape without adding volume to your figure.
Queen Anne Neckline
- What it is: Named for the Queen of Great Britain, the Queen Anne neckline typically has a high back and a dipped neckline in front. The front dip is usually shaped like a sweetheart or v-neckline and is framed by wide straps or sleeves that slant in toward the neck. Most commonly seen on vintage designs, the Queen Anne neckline adds a timeless, sophisticated touch to wedding dresses.
- How it Flatters: Depending on the shape of the dip, the Queen Anne neckline can offer all the same benefits of the sweetheart or v-neckline, but with the extra support of wide straps or sleeves. The framed in shape of the Queen Anne neckline also draws the eye to the collarbone, providing you with a flattering, delicate appeal.
- What it is: A beautifully unique way to break the bridal mold, asymmetrical necklines flow across the chest, collarbone, or neck differently from “normal” necklines. Generally, one side of the neckline is higher or made from a contrasting fabric at an uneven angle. The most common example of an asymmetrical neckline is a wedding gown with a one-shoulder strap or sleeve.
- How it Flatters: While bateau and straight necklines create horizontal lines for the eyes to follow, the asymmetrical neckline features an uneven height difference across the chest that usually makes the eyes move vertically, which is much more flattering! It’s similar to the way vertical stripes are visually slenderizing!
- Extra Perks: No need to wear a necklace, as the unique shape of the asymmetrical neckline is captivating all on its own!
- What it is: A high neckline offers the most coverage out of all of the neckline options. The dress fabric starts at the neck itself then flows down to form the rest of the bodice. When the neckline features a high collar that does not fold over (à la turtleneck), you’ve got yourself a mock neckline! High-neck wedding dresses are often the most modest (and warmest) options, though certain fabrics and embellishments can add a sultry flair to this type of wedding dress neckline.
- How it Flatters: Because of the way it draws the eyes and balances out the figure, the high neckline is a favorite of brides with thin or long necks. This type of wedding dress neckline can also accentuate the bust and shoulders (especially if the gown is also sleeveless).
- What it is: The illusion wedding dress neckline is one that features a soft and sheer panel of fabric around the chest and shoulders. This neckline uses bridal fabrics like tulle or lace to partially cover the chest area as needed for modesty. The sheer fabric layer adds elegance and simultaneously gives the gown more structure as well. The best part about the illusion neckline is the versatility of the design. Depending upon the way the fabric is draped across the neckline, you could have the sheer version of a high-neck, v-neck, or even bateau-neck gown! Creating the “illusion” of other necklines is just one of the unique perks to the sheer-neck wedding dress.
- How it Flatters: One of the best parts about illusion-neck wedding dresses is how they give the impression of bare skin while actually covering it up. The placement of the sheer panel of fabric can provide a hint of cleavage while providing more adequate support than other revealing necklines. This makes it a favorite for brides with larger busts, but the style can be flattering for most body types depending upon the way the sheer material is draped.
How to Choose a Wedding Dress Neckline
When it comes to choosing a wedding dress neckline, it’s all about focusing on YOU! Consider which neckline shapes would flatter you best or make you feel the most comfortable on your wedding day. If you’re really not sure, you could always go with some general tips that work for most brides. It's hard to give specific advice that applies to ALL brides because each and every bride is unique and going for a different look with her wedding dress. However, if you need a place to start, you can follow these general style guidelines.
If you want to...
- add visual length, go for necklines with vertical lines, such as v-necklines, deep plunging necklines, or cowl necklines. (Petite brides, we’re talking to you!)
- have coverage, go for the necklines that go above your collarbone, such as high necklines, or feature embellished sheer fabric, such as illusion necklines.
- show off your curves, go for necklines that rest at or just below the collarbone and have a rounded shape that follows the shape of your body, such as sweetheart, scoop, or Queen Anne necklines.
Once you’ve narrowed your favorite possibilities down to a handful of wedding dress necklines, it’s time to actually try some on so you know what they look and feel like on you. Did you know that you can try sample wedding dresses on at home, risk free, through Avery Austin’s Try at Home Program? This is the perfect way to test out some necklines before you make your final decision on which is the best wedding dress neckline for you! Check out the Try at Home Program details here, then explore all of the bridal gown samples available, filtering by your chosen necklines to shop with ease.
While there are likely many more wedding dress neckline types out there, the ones in this guide are the most prevalent in the bridal industry. With the help of Avery Austin’s Wedding Dress Neckline Guide, we hope you feel more confident in choosing your favorite. Of course, if you’ve still got questions, we’d love to help! Speak with a bridal specialist today to get the personalized help you deserve when selecting your dream dress.
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