Bubu e-mailed me this question:
I realize ever more that almost all models have narrow shoulders and long necks — but many of us mortals don’t. It doesn’t bother me, per se, but makes it harder to visualize how things will work on me — often things that look flowy or edgy on a model-type or in a catalog just look boxy and stuffy on me, e.g., most blazers, turtlenecks, necklaces, scarves, etc. I have worked hard to improve my posture and pull my shoulders down so they don’t rise up to my ears, which helps significantly, but any more tips/advice to flattering looks and things to avoid?
I can definitely relate to this. I have a relatively average length neck, and find that lots of model-y looks are doofy on me, too. Especially the massive, chunky scarf look, as shown in the photo up top. Oh my gosh, I look as if a python is trying to eat my upper half. I’ve been told I have broad shoulders, but actually think I have full upper arms which gives the impression of broad shoulders … either way, I know that certain looks can crowd the neck and shoulder area. Here are some tips that come to mind for flattering strong shoulders and a shorter neck:
Avoid built-in strong shoulders
This is a borderline no-brainer but it always helps to start with the basics! Choose blazers sans shoulder pads, minus any princess-y poofs, and preferably with more rounded shoulders than squared-off ones. Pair them with V or scoop necklines to elongate your neck line and balance out the natural shoulder-enhancing properties of any blazer. Wearing turtlenecks or crew necks with blazers will make your neck and shoulder area appear shortened and crowded. (I know the mere thought of turtlenecks in June is making many of you perspire, but just trying to cover all my bases, here.)
Go for thinner scarves
Again, fairly obvious. But just to be clear, thick weaves AND enormous sizes in scarves will add bulk to your shoulder area. Tie them using methods that remove bulk like the twisted rope and the pretzel. Infinity scarves – unless fairly thin – will probably do the python-eating-your-head thing. They also give you less control over how the scarf sits.
Wide strap tanks and dresses with deep necklines
Spaghetti straps look great on nubile teens, but they do me no favors. My shoulders and neck are best flattered by wide straps and V or scoop necklines. If you’ve got a strong set of shoulders skinny straps can look teeny on the expanse of your shoulder span – which is fantastic if you want to emphasize your shoulders, less so if you’d like to downplay them. Wider straps create balance and a deep neckline elongates your neck visually.
Thinner and longer necklaces
Not always thin, and not always long … but a truly chunky necklace may add bulk and appear to shorten the distance between your shoulders and head. And a short necklace with further shorten your neck. Longer strands draw the eye up and down, and thinner ones allow your neck some breathing room.
Deploy empire waists with care
Since a shorter neck and broad shoulders can create the impression of compressed upper body, adding an exaggeratedly high waistline might make it look like an attribute hogpile in your top half. No need to wear dropwaists to counteract this, but natural waist styles may create more balance than high/empire ones.
As always, none of my figure flattery advice posts should be considered gospel, including this one, and I fully expect you to read them with a grain of salt. Style ‘rules’ are merely guidelines, no matter who is dispensing them. I trust you to use your judgment. And I trust you to take what applies to you, discard the rest, and assume positive intent.
Anyone else out there have the strong shoulder / short neck combo? Do you, too, feel like many stylish looks that work on models crowd your features? Other tips to share?
Image courtesy Sincerely Jules, showing a look that is tough for women with broad shoulders and shorter necks to pull off.