Wedding Dress Neckline Style Guide
Wedding Dress Neckline Style Guide
The right neckline is a defining element of your wedding gown; it frames your face, flatters your figure, and reflects your personality as well as the overall style you want to evoke on your wedding day. From classic v-neck and strapless silhouettes to daring plunges, our dress neckline guide will help you choose the one that completes your perfect wedding dress.
Get To Know Our Necklines
With so many gown neckline styles, it can be tough to know where to begin when you’re ready to go wedding dress shopping! Some brides start by considering which style best reflects their personality, while others want to be sure that their dress is the right fit for a unique venue. You can also narrow down your neckline choices by thinking about which one will be most flattering for your body type, or which neckline will complement the wedding hair or bridal shoes and accessories you have in mind.
If the choice seems overwhelming, you can experiment at your first bridal appointment, too! Ask the stylist to select a variety of dress necklines, fabrics and silhouettes, so you can try them on and find your perfect wedding gown. The six neckline styles below are popular options you’re likely to find in every bridal collection, and they serve as a great starting point in your gown search.
Bold and unexpected, a plunge neckline is perfect for risk-taking brides. The more dramatic version of a v-neck, the plunge shows a sultry flash of skin and accentuates your décolletage. Plunge necklines also elongate your silhouette, so they’re a great choice for petite brides who want the appearance of extra height. Many plunging necklines include a panel of illusion tulle, so you don’t have to stress about any wardrobe malfunctions on the big day. Because they’re among the more daring dress neckline styles, plunge necklines are a popular choice for brides with sleek, modern style or a carefree boho vibe. A plunge can also balance out the extra coverage provided by a gown with sleeves, if you’re considering a long-sleeved look for a wintertime or fall wedding.
Jewelry Pairings: We love this silhouette with a long, delicate necklace that echoes its elongating shape. For wedding necklines that are heavily embellished, forego the necklace in favor of statement earrings.
Hair Tips: If an embellished plunge neckline is the focal point of your gown, then choose an updo that lets those details take center stage. Otherwise, a half-up, half-down hairstyle is a classic choice that gently softens this neckline’s angular shape.
Off The Shoulder
An off the shoulder neckline is effortless and incredibly flattering for a wide range of body types. This unique neckline is the perfect way to highlight your shoulders and collarbones; it’s especially flattering for brides with a fuller bust or pear shape. It beautifully frames your face, too. Avoid an off the shoulder silhouette if you have broad shoulders, or if you don’t want to emphasize your arms. We love off the shoulder styles for summer wedding dresses, particularly looks for beach and destination ceremonies where they can show off sun-kissed skin.
Jewelry Pairings: Collar or choker-length necklaces are the perfect pairing for an off the shoulder neckline, drawing the focus toward your face. Stick to simpler styles, like a strand of pearls or an unfussy pendant, that complement the neckline without overpowering it.
Hair Tips: Because this romantic neckline shows your shoulders so beautifully, make sure your hair doesn’t cover them up! A soft updo (think loose braids or wavy accent pieces) accentuates the dreamy vibes of an off-the-shoulder silhouette, while letting the neckline shine. If you prefer to wear your hair down, try a wavy, side-swept style that falls over one shoulder.
An illusion neckline features soft, sheer fabric like lace or tulle that extends from the top of the bodice and over the shoulders. This style often gives the illusion of a strapless dress (hence the name!), but it’s more supportive and offers a bit more coverage, so it’s a popular pick for brides with a fuller bust. Paired with lace, embroidery or appliqués, an illusion neckline gives the appearance that delicate embellishments are floating atop the skin. Illusion necklines create an elongating silhouette, and their softness lends a touch of romance to any gown.
Jewelry Pairings: Steer clear of necklaces when wearing an illusion gown; they can clash with dainty detailing or snag the delicate, sheer fabric. Instead, opt for dangling earrings or hair accessories with a touch of sparkle.
Hair Tips: Illusion necklines are often paired with dramatic back details; if that’s the case, opt for an updo or side-swept style to show off these striking features. Relaxed braids and updos are a romantic pairing for an unadorned tulle illusion style. If an illusion neckline is heavily embellished, a sleeker look lets these details shine without competing for attention.
Timeless and understated, the v-neck has been a popular bridal choice for decades. This neckline is a more subtle version of the plunge, and both styles share an elongating silhouette that’s incredibly flattering for more petite or oval-shaped brides. The v-neckline is also exceptionally versatile; it’s a perfect complement to nearly every gown style, from lacy looks for a romantic wedding to sleek and modern styles for city hall vows.
Jewelry Pairings: Because its shape is so flattering, many brides prefer to wear a v-neck gown without a necklace, allowing the neckline to work its magic. Instead, choose drop earrings that echo the linear shape of the v-neck, plus a sparkly bracelet.
Hair Tips: When wearing a v-neck, avoid styles that interfere with its sleek shape. We love this structured neckline with hairstyles that add a surprising touch of asymmetry (think a side-swept braid or low side bun). For boho brides, a milkmaid braid with wispy, face-framing tendrils lends a relaxed vibe to this classic style.
Perhaps the most popular bridal neckline, a strapless silhouette is singularly flattering and versatile. Strapless dresses accentuate your collarbones and décolletage, while also providing a clean slate for hair and accessories. Within strapless silhouettes, a modern straight-across cut complements broader shoulders, while a sweetheart accentuates the bustline.
Jewelry Pairings: When choosing a necklace for a strapless dress, look for a length and shape that accentuate the flattering focus on your collarbones. Shorter necklace styles are best; keep your necklace simple if your dress is heavily embellished, or go glam if you've found an unadorned gown. If you forego a necklace entirely, frame your face with chandelier earrings.
Hair Tips: Strapless necklines allow you to wear almost any hairstyle, from tumbling curls to a sleek updo. Feel free to experiment with on-trend styles like high buns and intricate braids or keep things simple with a chignon or half-up, half-down waves.
Beloved by timeless brides like Grace Kelly and Audrey Hepburn, this refined neckline has become exceptionally popular in recent years. High necklines hit at the base of the neck or above, offering the most coverage of any bridal style. That doesn’t mean they need to feel stuffy; lace or illusion tulle is the perfect way to lighten up a high neck gown. This sophisticated neckline is especially flattering for longer necks and faces; it’s also a great option if you’d like to accentuate your arms.
Jewelry Pairings: Steer clear of necklaces or large earrings that compete with the intricate details of a high neckline, opting for delicate studs or tiny drops instead. If you’d like to add a bit more sparkle to your look, try a statement bracelet or a glamorous hair accessory.
Hair Tips: Plan for a style that lifts your hair away from your face and shoulders to emphasize the graceful silhouette of this neckline. A low bun or sleek ponytail won’t draw attention away from the details of a high neckline.
7 More Unique Necklines
If you didn’t find your dream neckline in the list above, don’t stress! Many other wedding dress necklines are less common, but no less beautiful.
1. Bateau: A bateau neckline has a wide, high shape that grazes your collarbones, à la Meghan Markle’s famous gown. Also called a boat neck.
2. Halter: Sleek and contemporary, the halter neckline is amazing at showing off your shoulders!
3. One Shoulder: For the bride seeking an asymmetrical neckline dress, a modern one shoulder silhouette is the perfect pick.
4. Scoop: A low, circular neckline with a U-shaped silhouette; one of the most universally flattering necklines.
5. Queen Anne: This vintage-inspired neckline combines a high collar in the back with a scoop, v-neck, or sweetheart silhouette in the front.
6. Square: Elegant and elongating, this open neckline features an angular silhouette that flatters the neck and bustline.
7. Portrait: A variation of off the shoulder, this wide neckline style frames the collarbones with angled straps or sleeves that rest on the points of the shoulders.