It doesn’t automatically lend itself to the cold weather of autumn / winter 2011, but none-the-less the women’s plunging neckline has captured the imagination of designers from the likes of Gucci to your local artisan. Follow the link to see how this fashion is being designed and worn, and how to carry it over into next year.
There are inherent risks with a plunging neckline, but I don’t think I need to spell out what they are. Suffice to say some are dangers of an aesthetic nature, where as others can concern a girl’s modesty. The plunging neckline is not for everyone. But there are ways to wear it that, for the willing, give it a sultry update as a fashion for fall 2011, and most certainly as an ongoing trend in spring 2012.
The neckline plunge of 2011 / 2012 is not a scoop neck. It’s a deep cut V that ends somewhere between the breastbone and the naval. It’s glamorous yet effortless, so works best with a lightly relaxed fit rather than a gravity-defying, tightly fitted one.
To the uber-daring end of the spectrum, Gucci put frocks on their autumn 2011 runway that were plunging in front, slit to the thigh, and (almost) sheer all over. While they were no less than breathtaking you can safely reserve these for special occasions. J. Mendel’s more modest takes draped the body in vintage charm, far more fitting for a cold evening in heaving beading and velvet, pairing plunging tops with ankle length bottoms. Elsewhere the return (yet again) of tuxedo dressing for women saw models suited up in relaxed masculine blazers with open necklines and bare skin below.
Plunging neckline suit jacket at Hakaan A/W ’11
Plunging neckline: what to wear underneath
I’ll say it upfront: the best way to wear a plunge is sans bra. Going braless means smooth, unbroken lines. It means no fussing about with stick-on bralets or clear adjoining straps – while these solutions can work, they’ll never quite suggest the same effortlessness as throwing on a plunging top and resisting the urge to layer it over something else.
The other and perhaps better solution to wearing a bra and trying to make it invisible is to wear a bra and make it the opposite of invisible. Make it show and make it obvious. Choose the kind of underwear that’s made to be seen: a soft lace triangle bra, a bold cutaway piece, one with a very deliberate print – and let it casually peep out from below your plunging top or dress.
Stella McCartney plunging dress and exposed leopard bra, worn by Hanneli
What to wear the plunging neckline with
A plunging neckline and a creeping skirt hem make for dangerous bedfellows. Together they work wonders if you have a modelesque, beanpole figure, but the reality is that for most its better to balance out the skin on top with a more modest bottom.
That’s where 2011′s trend towards 1970s fashion comes into play.
The perfect accompaniment to a low-cut top is a maxi skirt, or a smart pair of wide leg pants. The latter look will also carry you over into a look that screams thirties screen starlet as the 20s/30s saunter their way back into fashion.
Plunging neckline dress from J Mendel A/W ’11
Plunging necklines across the seasons
So how to wear a plunging neckline when the wind is blowing and the leaves are falling? In autumn / fall 2011 look for heavier fabrics like knits, velvet, and luxe jersey. Winter is also the perfect time to capitalise on the sensuality of turning something masculine into something feminine by making a low-buttoning suit jacket an evening substitute for a dress. Finally a variation on the bare plunging neck is one that’s finished with sheer fabric like mesh or lace, giving some coverage to skin that would otherwise be bare.
Plunge dress at J Mendel A/W ’11
For spring / summer it’s easier to get away with a plunging neck and a shorter skirt, though if you do so remember that the relaxed cut is key to keeping it effortless. Look for breezy fabrics and soft colours, or bright jewel tones that give a plunging neck an exotic feel.
Plunging neckline dress for summer: Gail Sorronda S/S ’11