Keyhole Neckline


How to say it: as it looks

Traditional Features: 

body template

  • neckline usually sits on the collarbone
  • has a slit/cut-out below the neckline
  • can be held closed with a hook or button, or be fully attached to the neckline of the garment


…of the style: When I think of a keyhole neckline I imagine a top with a high-ish neckline and a teardrop shaped cutout below, but the truth is that the keyhole neckline is a surprisingly versatile style. It can be as simple as a small slit underneath the neckline of a garment or as complicated as a large cut-out that reaches a ways down the torso and must be structured enough to stay in place. It can be a fully attached neckline or an open style with a hook or button closure and can be applied to all kinds of garments from tops to dresses to swimwear.

There is evidence that keyhole necklines have been around since the Vikings (8th – 11th centuries) but as far as modern fashion is concerned, the keyhole look was at it most popular in the 1940s when the ‘keyhole’ was small and conservative, offering a bit of feminine interest to blouses and evening wear. The keyhole was also popular in the disco era of the 1970s but in a very different incarnation – 1970s ‘keyholes’ were large and long, often reaching all the way to the naval and showed a lot more skin.

In the 21st century the keyhole neckline is prolific and comes in many different versions – slits, circles, triangles, big, small, short and long, on the front or on the back; the size and shape of the modern keyhole neckline is restricted only by the imagination of the designer.

…of the name: I couldn’t find any definite information about where the name of this neckline came from, but I assume it is because the traditional teardrop cut-out below the neckline looks a bit like a keyhole.

For more info on Keyhole Necklines try wiseGeek, hurstwic, quizlet or check out A Dictionary of Costume and Fashion

Random Facts

  • the keyhole neckline is flattering to most body shapes and can give the impression of  a bigger bust on smaller frames.

21st Century Keyhole Necklines

The keyhole is an all around flattering style as long as it is constructed properly and designers continually use it in all its variety on all sorts of garments. From evening gowns to tops and blouses and from jumpsuits to swimwear, it adds a little je ne sais quoi to an otherwise boring round neck.

ROberto cavallimugler

Roberto Cavalli, Mugler




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