Reader Jori sent me this question via e-mail:
Now that we’re entering serious layering season, I was thinking it would be interesting for you to do a post on layering necklines. Specifically, I have a couple of pieces with sweetheart necklines, which I love, but I’m having a hard time figuring out what other types of necklines I can layer under them (other than a turtleneck). That’s a pretty specific problem, but then I started thinking about mixing v-necks with crew necks, etc, and was wondering if there are any guidelines for such things. Just layering v-necks with v-necks, for example, seems overly restrictive, but there are also plenty of times when mixing and matching just looks weird.
I also heard from reader Beatrijs who was curious about layering beneath her cardigans. So, since the two topics are related, I’ll fold them into one post.
Now I won’t lie to you, necklines are tricky. Different styles sit differently on women depending on their height, weight, bust size, neck length, and many other factors. And even aside from that, I don’t believe that there are any hard-and-fast rules to layering necklines. You’ve got to experiment a little and see what works best on YOUR body and with YOUR style.
However, I’m happy to share what works for me! And hopefully some of these examples will provide a broader picture of how to successfully layer your necklines. Or, at the very least, spark some great discussion.
CREWS WITH SCOOPS
Crew-neck outer layers – like this long jacket – always look best to me paired with slightly lower scoop necks. High crews as the underlayer sometimes give an impression of choking the wearer, and boatnecks can feel equally claustrophobic. V-necks, on the other hand, don’t often clash with the overall shape of that outer layer. So I tend toward scoops myself.
COLLARS WITH SCOOPS, Vs OR SQUARES
When wearing a collared shirt or jacket unbuttoned, my preference is for square, V, or scoop necklines. High crew necklines can work in this combo, since the unbuttoned shirt creates long vertical lines along the length of your torso, mitigating the severity of the crew. But a lower cut that shows a bit of collarbone allows for a necklace or scarf … and just feels more chic and stylish to me. (This is actually a sweetheart neckline, but in the layered mix it mimics a V.)
V-NECKS WITH CREWS
An outer layer with a severe v-neckline can be paired successfully with an inner layer that features a high crew. However, it’s best to soften the crew with a necklace or scarf when possible.
V-NECKS WITH VS AND NOTCH NECKS
I don’t generally like to do same with same when it comes to necklines, but Vs are the exception. A lower v-neckline paired with a higher v-neckline can work, as can a deep V with a notch neck. V-necklines are generally considered to be the easiest to wear, and doubling up on them won’t look odd. That said, I’m not a huge fan of two identical v-necklines worn together. I prefer a slight difference in depth for each top.
BLAZERS WITH JUST ABOUT ANYTHING
Since most traditional blazers have a deep v-neck opening that draws the eye down your torso, they can be worn with just about any neckline as an underlayer. I prefer scoops and Vs myself, but crews, squares, and boatnecks can all work, too.
Deep v-neck cardigans are similarly versatile, but remember to button them up!
Add interest and complexity to blazer looks with scarves, brooches, and necklaces when you can.
Now that we’ve looked at some of my personal neckline layering preferences, here are some pairings that I try to avoid at all costs:
- High crew with low V: This can be done for a super casual look, but the two extreme necklines worn together can look mismatched and odd.
- High crew with scoop: Although a high crew cardigan or jacket can work with a scoop, layering a high crew tee beneath a scoopneck sweater or tee is a bit awkward. As with the high crew/low V pairing, you end up with this big expanse of cloth from neckline to neckline … and putting a necklace or scarf in that blank space doesn’t always work.
- Detailed necklines over any underlayer: This is personal preference, but I seldom like the look of a keyhole, sweetheart, or other sculptural neckline layered over another neckline. Those styles are meant to stand out based on the shape of the neckline alone, and should be treated as such. Layer a nude cami underneath if you need additional warmth.
What does that last one mean? Jori is out of luck with her sweethearts. They’ll work fairly well with turtlenecks, but should generally be worn on their own. A sweetheart neckline can, of course, be an underlayer: It’ll look fab beneath a blazer. But then you lose some of the fabulous detailing of the line.
Cripes, that got LONG. Hope you found this little tutorial helpful, my dears. As I mentioned above, these are the techniques that work best for me, and may be completely contrary to your own best looks and practices!