There is so much to cover in the D+ Dressing workshop that I’m leading in three weeks. One very basic subject is necklines, but it isn’t anything so simple as “never wear crewnecks” or “always wear V-necks”. It isn’t even as simple as “don’t wear a lot of fabric above your chest” vs. “expose as much skin as you can”, although that’s a helpful generalization that I set out to demonstrate when I stretched out the neckline on my Polka dot dress.

big bust neckline stretching exerciseIf all things were equal–i.e., the waistline didn’t rise when I scrunched the neckline and the fabric didn’t stretch even more tightly around my breasts–I think it’s safe to say that the middle and right images look more balanced. According to The Triumph of Individual Style, “you can wear  any neckline or collar style as long as it makes the head appear in balance with the upper body. To do this, at least two things must be included in the design of the neckline or collar:

  1. A neckline opening or the collar construction needs to be at least as wide as the widest part of your face.
  2. A neckline or collar opening or some detail of the collar treatment needs to fall at a balance point in the upper body.”

The unmodified neckline on the left only meets the first requirement, but the modified necklines meet both requirements. I’ve always concentrated on necklines that fall at my low balance point, but when I reviewed the steps for finding my high balance point, I understood why the middle neckline is also balancing.

how to find high balance point 1
Imagine tracing a shape from the widest part of one one side of your face around your jawline and chin up to the widest part of the other side of your face.
how to find high balance point 2
Repeat the shape at your shoulder line. The bottom point of the shape is your high balance point.

But the Triumph of Individual Style authors said that ANY neckline should work if it can meet these requirements, and my two modifications removed this dress from bateau territory. Here’s how a busty woman can get a boatneck to work for her.

“What if a neckline opening is above your second balance point? If the neckline opening is as wide as your face but is above your second balance point, note how much farther above it is, then widen the neckline that same distance on each side of the opening.

I didn’t believe it would work, but I had to try it. My high balance point falls about two inches below the center of my clavicle. The neckline of the Polka dot dress falls only one inch below it. I pulled out my seam ripper and tore away one inch from either side of the neckline. Here are the results.

high point neckline remedyPretty neat, huh? Evidently more skin, whether it’s exposed below or out from our necks, helps to balance our heads with our chests. It seems like a variation of the grouping principle. The more skin (or design elements) we can group with our heads (in keeping with our balance points), the more balanced our heads will appear in relation to our chests.