How to say it: vee-neck
- neckline that dips towards the centre of the body to create a V shape
- can vary in length from just below the collarbone to all the way to the navel
…of the style: The V-neck is a truly ancient style dating as far back as the 8th century BC – I found images of historical costume from the kingdom of Ancient Judah, showing Jewish women wearing V-neck gowns. The next image that showed a v-neck style came from the Normans in the 11th century, and while it is unlikely that the style was simply not worn during the intervening 1900 years, it was obviously not popular enough to include in historical drawings. The style continued to be worn in Europe but didn’t seem to reach any kind of popularity until the late 15th century when it emerged in the Burgundian Court. The Burgundian Court dominated European fashion north of the Alps during the 1400s thanks to the Hundred Years War, and the War of the Roses that kept France and England occupied.
This rise in popularity faded as the trends turned towards a square neckline in the 1500s, and the ruff collar which was particularly popular in the late 1500s. This is not to say that the V-neck disappeared, it does show up in historical images during these times, but it does not seem to have been at the height of fashion.
The history of the V-neck continues along the same lines right the way up to the modern day – it is never really a ‘trend’, but it is never completely out of fashion either, it just keeps popping up in every century on the necks of the rich and the poor.
Not surprisingly the V-neck has reached classic status – so much so that it barely gets mentioned in the history of modern fashion – one just assumes that it was worn throughout.
…of the name: The low dipping neckline creates a V shape, hence the name
There isn’t a lot of actual history about the V-neck out there, I had to comb through historical images to find out when it was worn. I found this Wikipedia list a good place to start.
- Costume Historian James Laver marks the mid-14th century as the birth of ‘fashion’ as a recognisable thing, rather than just clothes that are worn.
21st Century V-Necks
It is everywhere, and will be everywhere for ever. The V-neck is a flattering classic that you can find on the front or back of garments, at various lengths, from the high street to the designer boutiques.
BB Dakota, Halston Heritage