One-shoulder neckline

AKA: asymmetric neckline

How to say it: as it looks

Traditional Features: 


  • crosses the torso diagonally from one shoulder to underneath the opposite arm
  • usually linear but can vary
  • can be combined with a single sleeve or various other design elements


…of the style: I couldn’t find any actual history regarding the one-shoulder neckline and when it appeared on the fashion stage. Togas were reportedly worn in a one-shouldered style, so I guess technically the look as been around since the times of the Ancient Romans (8th century BC). As far as it existing in modern fashion, I have found images of evening gowns from the 1940s with the one-should neckline so it has been present in modern fashion for at least the last 7 decades.

It seems that the one-shouldered look was kept for gowns and cocktail dresses back in the day, where it was often very structured, lending a sculptured look to the neckline and drawing interest towards the wearers face. In today’s fashion marketplace the one-shoulder neckline still features heavily in evening wear, but has also crossed over into casual clothing, swimwear and is a particular favourite of brides and bridesmaids all over the world.

…of the name: It is called a one-shoulder neckline because the neckline covers only one of the wearer’s shoulders.

There isn’t a lot of other information out there regarding the One Shoulder Neckline, mainly just descriptions of the style. There is an entry in A Dictionary of Costume and Fashion, otherwise just type it into your favourite browser and see what comes back.

21st Century One-shoulder Necklines

The one-shoulder neckline is a pretty, feminine style that allows for a lot of design flexibility. Whether it’s linear or curved, combined with a sleeve, sweetheart, ruffles, gathering, bows, oversized knots or a necktie, the asymmetrical look of this style will always be in vogue.

mango tory burch

Mango, Tory Burch

Isabel Marant Donna Karan New York

Isabel Marant, Donna Karan New York


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