Thursday 15 November 2018

How to wear... the boat neck

Forget the Bardot - the flattering bateau has the royal seal of approval, writes Meadhbh McGrath

Alicia Vikander illustrates how a simple jumper and black denim can look instantly more refined with a boat neckline. Photo: GC Images
Alicia Vikander illustrates how a simple jumper and black denim can look instantly more refined with a boat neckline. Photo: GC Images

Meadhbh McGrath

It seemed like we would never see the end of the off-the-shoulder 'Bardot' tops that dominated the high street in the last three years. But thanks to Meghan Markle, it looks like the shoulder-skimming bateau or boat neck is set to take its place.

She's only three months in the job, but the new Duchess of Sussex has already established a signature look.

There was her Givenchy wedding gown, of course, followed by a chic black Dior design for the RAF centenary service, an olive dress for Prince Louis' christening, and the grey Roland Mouret number she wore to Áras an Úachtaráin during her Dublin visit.

While some critics have accused Meghan of being stuck in a fashion rut, others have suggested the boat neck is her way of rewriting the royal rulebook.

Given the restrictions of her new role, the bateau is one of the few elements that distinguishes her style, allowing her to show some skin while still respecting palace protocol.

It's also a very flattering neckline, revealing a hint of décolletage without exposing the shoulders or cleavage. If you prefer to keep your arms covered, the boat neck is your friend - it feels a little bit sexy yet demure, skimming over areas you may want to conceal.

The Duchess of Sussex arriving to meet Michael Higgins at Áras an Úachtaráin on the second day of the Royal couple's visit to Dublin, Ireland. Photo: PA
The Duchess of Sussex arriving to meet Michael Higgins at Áras an Úachtaráin on the second day of the Royal couple's visit to Dublin, Ireland. Photo: PA

The shape makes the neck look elegant and swan-like, particularly when hair is tied up, while putting the focus on the face.

The neckline has been a popular choice throughout history, particularly for Meghan's style icon Audrey Hepburn, but has been neglected by the fashion industry in recent years, making it feel fresher now than a standard round or V-neck. We expect to see them cropping up on plenty more catwalks during the international fashion weeks next month.

The boat neck looks particularly striking on a dress, making it a modern workwear or occasionwear option. You'll need to dress it up a little with heels or smart pointed flats.

In a top, you can afford to go a little more casual, particularly with Breton tops or light knits, which add polish to a pair of jeans and trainers.

Earrings, €19.99 from Mango
Earrings, €19.99 from Mango
Jumpsuit, €109 (sale price) from French Connection
Blouse, €49.95 from Mango
Check trousers, €44 from Next
Cross body bag, €34 from Topshop
Mules, €79 from Office

Alicia Vikander illustrates how a simple jumper and black denim can look instantly more refined with a boat neckline.

The design adds enough interest that you can keep the rest of the outfit simple, topped off with a statement cross-body bag.

Knit top, €196 from Cefinn at netaporter.com
Knit top, €196 from Cefinn at netaporter.com
Pencil skirt, €55 from M&S
Earrings, €19 from & Other Stories
Balloon sleeve dress, €115 (sale price) from Karen Millen
Blouse, €69.99 from Selected Femme at Arnotts
Blouse, €69.99 from Selected Femme at Arnotts
Jumper, €12.95 from Zara
Stripe top, €14.99 from H&M
Long sleeve dress, €79 from arket.com
Jumpsuit, €188 from All Saints
Boots, €107 from Office

Irish Independent

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