Taking The Plunge: How Low Can Your Neckline Go?

29 January 2014 by

Imagine you’re in Studio 54 shimmying under the disco ball. Or lounging languorously at Club 55. Or striding purposefully down Broadway on a New York summer’s day. What would you be wearing? For me, the cornerstone of any glamorous outfit is a silk shirt, unbuttoned precariously deep down to the navel revealing inches of café au lait tan and glistening fine gold necklaces.....

Left to Right: Joseph Altuzarra S/S 2014, Jenna Lyons, Rihanna, Carine Roitfeld, Michelle Pffeifer in Scarface, all images Getty

While we’ve heard plenty about the sideboob and hi-driff and all sorts of red carpet fashion flashing, personally it’s the classic, 1970’s saucy sternum exposing deep vee that separates the starlets from the slappers. Because let’s not beat about the bush, this is not a modest look and certainly requires a degree of front (ahem). But what’s so special about the deeply plunging neckline is that there is an insouciant subtlety to it. This is because from some angles/posture positions, the look is almost pedestrian, but all it takes is a gust of wind or a well-timed shoulder lunge and things get a whole lot more raunchy.

Flying Low: Grazia's Senior Fashion News & Features Editor Takes the Plunge

Plunge professionals include some of the world’s most glamorous women. Diane von Furstenberg, J.Crew’s Jenna Lyons, Carine Roitfeld, Rihanna, Michelle Pfeiffer in Scarface (the template for any plunge wannabes) – the list is one long rollcall of hotness. The one thing these women  share is limited bounty in regards to their bosom. There’s no denying that the deep plunge only works on a diminutive chest – indeed the flatter the pancake, the better – this look is so NOT about cleavage. Furthermore a bra cannot be countenanced meaning buoyant breasts are a must and visible nipples inevitable. While this frankly sizist commandment may seem unfair for those who are more generously endowed, let’s be honest, big boobs offer plenty of other pros and us fried egg chicks deserve some kind of payback.

Taking The Plunge: How Low Can Your Neckline Go?

Going low on the couture catwalk [Getty]

So the question is: how low can you go? For daytime I like the sweet spot about an inch under the bra line, but for evening all bets are off down to the navel. Below the belly button is waaay too J.Lo at the Grammy’s circa 2000 - which may be iconic, but definitely isn’t right for now. A great option is to style the look a la Joseph Altuzarra with a high waisted skirt paired with an unbuttoned shirt. The higher waistline keeps your navel well covered while the shirt offers more than a glimpse of skin. Or you could follow Jenna Lyons and Carine Roifeld by wearing a tuxedo jacket without a shirt or lingerie - seriously sexy for evening.

A deep neckline also looks great accessorized with a long pendant or fine chain necklaces, further highlighting that extra skin. To ensure the look reads expensive and naughty rather than cheap and tarty you need to keep the rest of your look relatively demure - matching a plunge with a tiny hemline is a recipe for the wrong kind of sartorial message. While I wear the look in the office, deep necklines are not appropriate for most work envirnoments - if in doubt keep it buttoned up. But when dusk falls and its time to get your party on, let it all hang out - nothing beats a plunge for instant glamour.


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