When it comes to glamour, the proper va-va-voom kind, well, I’m sorry to say there’s very little of it in my wardrobe. And yet amid all the oversized shirts and the clumpy shoes, I’ve made one purchase that makes me feel the teensiest bit like, say, Sofia Loren sipping a dry martini in the 1960s.
It’s a black, long-sleeved and ribbed sweetheart neckline top. The best thing about the top, other than the compliments I get every time I wear it, is that everybody thinks it’s from Khaite when actually I bought it from Mango.
I’m not the only one feeling quite besotted with this retro-inspired neckline. That cult New York label Khaite has an instantly recognisable version (it’s the Maddy and good luck tracking one down) says a lot about how the classic silhouette has evolved.
Indeed the décolletage, the focal point for a sweetheart neckline, has been a source of inspiration for loads of designers the past few seasons and especially the cool ones. As well as Khaite’s ribbed knit sweetheart knits, there were excellent deep square necklines on little black dresses at Bottega Veneta, quirky heart cuts at Ganni and at Jacquemus, the sexiest little off-the-shoulder cardigans you could imagine.
While the sweetheart neckline is a silhouette beloved by the current Instagram fashion set – think Danish influencer Pernille Teisbaek, French creative director Leia Sfez, model Rosie Huntington-Whiteley and more – it was also worn by Marilyn Monroe and Sofia Loren in the ‘50s and ‘60s. Jackie Kennedy’s 1953 wedding dress had one, as did Princess Diana’s famous off-the-shoulder “Revenge dress” worn the night Princess Charles gave his infamous ‘tell-all’ televised interview in 1994.
In any case, it’s a glamorous silhouette, and just about the antithesis of sweatpants.
And right now glamour feels more relevant than ever. Much has been written about the return of the ‘roaring 20s’. The idea that after times of hardship and uncertainty and dreariness and saggy leggings we are left longing for glamour, frippery and fun. As Jeremy Scott, creative director of Moschino said earlier this year of post pandemic fashion, “Comfort schmomfort! What we need now more than ever is fantasy and glamour and things that make you feel wonderful, and I don’t think sweatpants do that.”
Perhaps because a sweetheart neckline is sexy without showing a lot of skin, and highlighting the decolletage is flattering for most, this style is especially appealing right now because it’s a low stakes but high reward way back into glamour. It’s not the full boop boop a doop, but it does make you feel swell.
To keep the aesthetic fresh and modern, PRIMER stylist Tara Morris suggests pairing a decolletage-baring neckline with a high-waisted trouser or pair of jeans to enhance the style’s figure-flattering and form-fitting silhouette. When it comes to jewellery, Morris recommends choosing a dainty necklace – such as a fine gold chain from a jeweller like Sarah & Sebastian – so as to not disrupt the lines. Otherwise a statement earring will amp up the glamour factor.
Morris likes that the cut is “flattering to most… and enhances an area most people don’t feel too self-conscious about” (unlike, ahem, midriff cut-outs). Plus, there’s a slew of Australian brands such as Viktoria & Woods and Rebecca Vallance doing versions too.
Best of all, notes Morris, it’s a piece to treasure and one to pull out when the brighter days, and the dry martinis coquettishly sipped in a dark, crowded and glamorous bar return. “It’s a trend now, but I can’t see it not being a wardrobe staple. It’s a classic piece … it’s always going to hold appeal.”
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