The halter neck

posted in: Style advice | 3

Here we have Princess Diana’s entry for Jungle January!

PRincess Di in halter neck swimsuit
Animal print swim suit

We have looked at a number of clothes that emphasise slim hips (most trousers) the legs (the shift), a curvy body (sheath). Now it is time for the shoulders and back. Nothing celebrates the shoulders and back like a halter top, dress, swim suit or gown.

What is a halter? A top that exposes the shoulders and back, often fastening at the back neck with a tie or other fastening. Because it is fastened in this way it can allow the creation of backless evening gowns and swim wear. However not everyone looks great in a halter neck as the style lines resemble a Raglan sleeve, exposing and emphasising the shoulders.

It is assumed that this style of top was invented by Vionette as it worked especially well with a bias cut evening gown. The 1920s and 1930s were the eras when a more obvious but natural body shape was allowed to emerge with close-fitting bias, jersey and swimwear designs being offered. It is essentially a sexy, revealing item and fun to use in evening wear designs. A halter neck blouse can be worn with a suit to work but it would still be quite shocking to take off the jacket and reveal a bare back.


Style advice

Halter necks have the effect of narrowing or slimming the shoulders so can work well for women with large shoulders, and are best for women who with a straightish body. One of the best halter neck wearers was Princess Diana. The style had the effect of giving some emphasis to her very slim hips and minimising the strong shoulder line. In these three evening dresses there is some gathering or draping in the skirt to balance out the shoulders – to very good effect.



3 Responses

  1. Stephanie

    Love the vintage one on the top left and the Princess Diana middle pic on the bottom. Wish I could wear this look but I’m pretty sure it would not work on me at all, and not only because going without a bra would be a tragedy!

  2. symondezyn

    I have always loved halter necks! Often in style advice articles, it warns women of ample bust to stay away from halter necklines, however this has made me confused because I have always found them flattering. Your points about them being flattering to wide shoulders and straighter bodies makes sense because that would be yours truly right here haha ^__^

    Agreed though – let’s not bare those backs in the office… shocking! ^__^

  3. mrsmole

    Anytime a bride wants to add some straps with her sleeveless gown, I always suggest a halter instead of just 2 straps. I tell them to think Marilyn Monroe and not having to yank on 2 straps all day at the wedding and reception. Once I show them with a wide grosgrain ribbon how it will look and feel, they are happy to go ahead with matching fabric from the gown.

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