how toMonday, 7 August 2017

The ultimate look: how to pull off décolleté dress


A neckline can set the tone of your entire outfit and, in recent seasons, designers have begun to muse once more on how to pull off the décolleté dress. As a defining element of your look, this cleavage-grazing statement can at first appear brazenly provocative. Upon closer scrutiny, though, it can also work in perfect harmony with the contours of your face and body. 

Take the SS17 collections for example, where a return to the glory of the 80s also meant that cleavage cocktail dresses were back in the spotlight. Designers like Anthony Vaccarello at Saint Laurent leant toward a darkly romantic view on v-necklines, for example, with black leather cocktail dresses that harked back to the height of the era. Meanwhile, Victoria Beckham dresses added a sense of purity to SS17, where deep necklines were rendered in refreshingly crisp whites with luxurious silk textures.

Executing the décolletage gown in style, then, becomes about balancing proportions, considering what goes on underneath and taking care to frame your face with a studied approach to your accessories. After all, this isn’t a rodeo, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have a little fun along the way. So when working the low-cut dresses trend into your wardrobe rotation, remember that it’s also about highlighting your assets in an elegant way.

Balance proportions

Achieving a refined plunging neckline is all about balancing proportions – a longer hemline, voluminous sleeve or flounce of ruffles can all help to offset the risqué nature of a cleavage-skimming décolletage gown. A feminine wrap dress with a deep-plunging neck and floor-length hemline for daytime is entirely possible. By teaming the style with a pair of flat sandals like those by Givenchy, the low-cut dresses trend works well for more casual events as well. 

When working out how to style décolleté dresses during daylight hours, consider taking a slightly vintage-inspired approach, with a cap sleeve or a wrap silhouette – Diane von Furstenberg dresses are a good reference point. This will help to keep things polished and in proportion. Just think less the skimpy, stretchy styles of the early 2000s and more of a tastefully elegant approach. After all, it’s important to leave a little unsaid in matters of the wardrobe. 

Boost your assets

Perhaps one of the trickiest aspects in mastering how to pull off décolleté dress is in working out what to wear underneath. Sometimes highlighting your assets is more effective when approached in a subtle way. Consider forgoing the push-up bra, for instance, in favour of a tasteful bralette with just the right cut. After all, sometimes it's as much about what you don't reveal as what you do – and, ultimately, it’s important you feel comfortable and secure when styling cleavage cocktail dresses. 

Brands like Calvin Klein offer plenty of options, putting comfort first with low-cut bras that work with your dress rather than against it. Consider a halter-neck bra underneath your décolletage gown, for example. Or you could take inspiration from the SS17 Marques'Almeida collection, which was all about lace-trimmed detailing. Turning to labels like La Perla, why not allow a little lace to peek out from your deep V-shaped neckline? Whatever your approach though, it's all about what makes you feel most at ease. 

Frame your face

Perhaps the most striking thing about cleavage cocktail dresses is the structure they lend to your outfit and the certain way they frame your face. Some well-thought-out jewellery above the collarbone can offer the perfect way to enhance this effect. Consider a delicate yet impactful choker necklace, for example, or a striking pair of drop earrings. Phoebe Tonkin takes a ladylike approach to the trend, with a floral printed midi dress and a timeless pair of Mary Jane heels. 

Romantic Stella McCartney dresses are highly appealing here, while a pair of ankle strap Valentino pumps helps to anchor the look in sophistication. The result is a vertical effect that draws the eye up towards your face. So with an unparalleled way of elongating the body and capturing the gaze, a plunging neckline can be one of the most elegant of silhouettes when balanced just so. Fundamentally, the question of how to pull off décolleté dress is as much about a sense of self-confidence as it is about the ideal mix of accessories, lingerie and calibrating the plunge through a sleeve or hemline. 

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