Low Low Cut Dresses Are In -- But How Low Should You Go?
Skin is definitely in -- and not just if you're a Kardashian.
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When it comes to red carpet couture, flaunting cleavage has been a major do lately. Sure, it's racy. But stylists say that taking the (sometimes extremely deep) plunge has its benefits, aside from stirring headlines.
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“Simply put, the V-neck shape is just flattering,” says Los Angeles-based personal stylist Laurie Brucker. “Wearing a V-neck can instantly make you look taller and slimmer. Why? When you show more neckline in your look, it will elongate the appearance of your neck, which in turn makes you look taller. That same illusion of elongation also makes you appear slimmer. It’s style magic at its best.”
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And the stars have been taking note. “Downton Abbey” actress Michelle Dockery, Oscar-nominated star Amy Adams, and yes, Kim Kardashian, have all been widely photographed this year wearing dangerously low-cut outfits. The New York Times is reporting that this look gets its inspiration from notable ‘70s-inspired designer collections currently making the rounds on the runways, a stylish nod to Adams’ Oscar-nominated flick, “American Hustle.” Although the deep neckline isn’t an original concept, stylists say this is a daring cut that can make a woman feel younger and sexier, if done right. However, it’s not as simple as simply ditching the bra.
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“A deep plunge draws the eye to the center, creating the illusion of a longer, thinner torso,” explains image consultant Thea Wood. “However, if the garment is tight and bulges around the plunge, it can distort and ruin the effect. If you have a round face, this neckline can make it look fuller, so I’d suggest trying a scoop neck instead.”
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Taking the major plunge with your wardrobe may not be for you, but the classic V-neck is certainly a cut worth looking out for, especially for the warmer spring season to come. Find out the major dos and don’ts of making the most out of your décolletage without a dreaded wardrobe malfunction.
Go to the Dark Side
“A long, narrow V makes the torso appear longer and thinner by accenting a very slim slice of skin,” explains Melissa Liebling-Goldberg, POPSUGAR’s fashion and beauty director. “The wider the V-neck is, the less slimming it is to the torso. And as always, darker colors help make you look thinner, so a black top with a plunge narrows your sides visually.”
Seriously, Be Modest
Going off the deep end, with your wardrobe that is, doesn’t mean baring all. This look may work for celebrities, but everyday settings require more modesty. “When done right, wearing a top or dress with a deep neckline exposes a beautiful décolletage without looking tacky,” says model and fashion expert Jaimie Hilfiger. “If the neckline is too low, add a camisole or bandeau bra to avoid showing too much. My suggestion is to buy V-neck tops in solid, neutral colors, such as black, white, cream, brown, and gray. They’re the perfect foundation in your closet and will blend with all of your outfits.”
Know How Low You're Willing to Go
“There is no wrong way to wear a V-neck unless it’s a bit too low or revealing,” says Brucker. “A higher V-neck, a Henley shape, or even a button-down blouse unbuttoned at the top can work great in an office setting, a luncheon, a first date, or even dinner with your parents. A deeper V-neck is a little more daring and works great for a sexy date night, a girl’s night out, or even as a bathing suit cover up for the summer months to come. Nothing wrong with a little peek of your lace bra or swimsuit to add intrigue, when appropriate, of course!”
Don't Forget the Obvious
Stylists do agree that ladies with smaller busts will have an easier time rocking this look as the garment will lay flatter against the skin, avoiding any unwanted movements that could cause an embarrassing flash. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean those with a bigger bust can’t try a V-neck. “If you have a largest chest and want to avoid looking too risqué, try going for a narrower V-line,” suggests celebrity stylist Ali Levine. “A narrow high-cut shift dress subtly follows your contours.” No matter your size, Levine agrees that when it comes to those glamorous dresses, it’s best to ditch the bra and head to your local lingerie store for other means of covering up. “Any small piece of a bra can shift the way a garment looks,” she says. “Stick to the stickies for this look for comfort and security while going bra-less. Also, if you feel like you need a little more support, you can always use some breast lift tape.” You can also consider deep plunge bras, which are specifically designed for low-cut tops.
Take Note of the Fabric
When it comes to wearing a gown with a deep plunge, always keep the fabric in mind as it can completely flatter your features or make it work totally against you. “Choose luxurious fabrics, like silk or leather or a red carpet-worthy effect,” says Wood. “A deep plunge in a lace fabric can easily go from sassy to trashy. In general, sheers aren’t the best choice for a classy plunge. If your breasts are falling out of the sides, either in the plunge or underarms, reconsider it. Either the garment isn’t the right size, or it’s not cut for your breast size and placement.” Customize your dress for a better fit by taking it to a tailor, who can add a hidden button or two for extra coverage.
Keep it Simple
A V-neck already speaks volumes, so no need to show even more skin than necessary. Have all eyes on you by keeping your overall look simple. “This is definitely a case of more is not always more,” says New York City-based stylist Sara Cooper. “When opting for a cleavage-revealing neckline, you’ll definitely want to balance it out with a more conservative hemline or sleeves. You’ll always want to stay away from loud patterns.”
The right accessory can always enhance an outfit, but the V-neck cut prefers to work solo–keep it that way. “A long necklace is going to draw the eye to the plunge even more, while a choker could cut you off in an awkward spot, making you lose the slimming effect of the plunge,” warns Goldberg.
Think this daring trend is only for certain age groups? Guess again. “How can we forget when the beautiful Helen Mirren won her 'Best Actress' Oscar and wore a gorgeous V-neck gown when she was in her mid-60s?” says Hilfiger. “Never one to be too risqué, she showed us all how to wear the plunging neckline right.”
Dazzle at Night
It goes without saying, don’t go too deep for daytime. If your gut tells you it’s too much, chances are you’re right. Wearing a V-neck, whether it be a simple t-shirt or a dress, works best for more casual settings or special evening affairs that call for it. “Don’t wear deep plunges to work or other daytime activities unless you’re at the beach or poolside,” warns Wood. “Men won’t be able to concentrate and may not take you seriously.”
No Need to Go All Amy Adams
Still feeling modest? No problem, simply add on a layer for extra coverage, which won’t hinder your confidence. “You can always wear something underneath the plunge, like a silk camisole,” says Goldberg. “Definitely pair it with a more modest bottom so that it’s a sole flash of skin.” And finally, if this is your first time trying this look, take baby steps to make it work for you. “This is definitely not a look for work,” she stresses. “Try it out at night for an event if you’re nervous. You don’t have to go for a full Amy Adams in ‘American Hustle’ effect your first time out!”