Halter Neck


How to say it: as it looks

Traditional Features: 



  • straps pass over the shoulders and fasten behind the neck
  • creates a backless style
  • can be a high or low-neckline


…of the style: While I am sure people have utilised the simplicity of the halter neck style since the days of old, the popularisation of the style in modern fashion is attributed to Madeleine Vionnet in the 1930s.

During the 1930s women’s fashion became more ladylike, with feminine practical styles dominating day wear and sleek, figure hugging gowns for the evening. These gowns were often made from silky fabrics, cut on the bias, that draped beautifully and clung to the figure. The halter was particularly popular on these dresses as it allowed for the creation of a backless style, exposing lots of skin without being considered vulgar.

Sunbathing also was popular in the 1930s and the backless halter dresses allowed women to show off their tans. This trend caused the halter neck to cross over into swimsuit fashions as it allowed the wear to have a back to be free of tan lines.

Since its introduction in the 30s the halter neck has remained a steadfast on the fashion landscape. Marilyn Monroe infamously wore a white, billowing halter neck dress in The Seven Year Itch in 1955 and the Hippies loved the backless halter neck style in the 1970s. While it is still used extensively to create glamorous evening gowns and tan-line free swimsuits, the halter neck has definitely crossed over into the other areas of womenswear, thanks to the versatility of the style and a designers ability to alter the severity of the backless-ness – making it less revealing and therefore an acceptable style for smart casual and workwear dressing.

In the 21st century the term halter neck seems to be applied to any style that has straps encircling the neck, even if the fabric of the neckline continues down the back of the garment, but a true halter neck is backless.

…of the name: This style of neckline is named for the animal halters the look mimics.

For more info on Halter Necks try Wikipedia, FashionEra, here or check out the Fairchild’s Dictionary of Fashion

21st Century Halter Necks

A regular in the fashion marketplace since the 1930s, the halter neck exists in many different styles making it a very versatile neckline option for the modern woman.

Chloe top shop

Chloe, TopShop

Haute Hippie dolce and gabbana

Haute Hippie, Dolce and Gabbana


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