Plunge for the 'deep'

  • Pramita Bose/SNS | Kolkata

    June 20, 2017 | 12:10 PM

The art of revealing quite a bit and yet leaving the vital portion to one’s imagination is a clear challenge to live up to.

Skin-exposure has long been a part of haute couture. And keeping this diktat firmly etched in mind, all A-label fashion houses, frontline designers and high-street clothes’ stores distinctively unfurl décolleté garments with low necklines (precisely on a female dress or top) and peek-a-boo outfits with transparent fabrics or small-holed patterns to woo the hip styleseekers.

Call it bold, daring, aesthetic or feminine, the art of revealing quite a bit and yet leaving the vital portion to one’s imagination is a clear challenge to live up to. Well then, catch our desi divas Deepika Padukone and Priyanka Chopra to sashay down in the plunging necklines with oodles of swag and confidence to boot. Or better still, the sultry Mexican siren Salma Hayek or the Spanish belle Penélope Cruz who took décolletage to a different new level with their curves and beauty which are nonpareil and their unabated penchant for that deep, dropping cuts around the neck and the shoulders is unmistakably noticed when then walk in at any social gathering or pose on the red carpet.

Be it an attention-grabbing Gucci number or a sexy, granite Atelier Versace couture dress with a V-neck cut, cleavage-flaunting attire is eternally a shutterbug’s favourite and a fashionista’s dream to slip into. Take for instance, Dutch model Lara Stone’s case. She once turned up in a smoking-hot petrol-colour gown with long dipping neckline and cleverly contrasted the same with her whitish blonde locks and a soft pat of makeup. The verdict to this get-up was unanimously a big ‘thumbs up’ from the discerning fashion-vigilantes’ quarters.

French in origin, décolletage as a word means to bare the neck as in the neckline takes a plunging dive on a woman’s shirt or any other apparel that she could wear. Now whether that’s sensual or vulgar in appeal, it totally depends upon the onlooker’s eyes. See various societies and cultures may look askance at this form of fashion as shocking or provocative. While others may simply accept it as a fashion trend and go a step further to adopt it in divergent ways, opines a trend-watcher.

According to fashion concepts, décolletage by term denotes the upper part of a woman’s torso, comprising her neck, shoulders, back and chest, which is left uncovered by the neckline of her outfit. Normally low-cut necklines are a constant feature of ballroom gowns, evening garbs, leotards, lingerie, swimsuits, et al. Noticeably, fashion has long ceased to be prude and puritan and become more and more revealing by the day. To this, designer Ritika Arya Jain comments that most definitely there are two schools of thought regarding revealing clothing. One may applaud the sexiness embedded within the style. The others may disapprove of it. But in my opinion, I guess one can embrace several methods to dress up in a revealing wardrobe without connoting anything in particular.

Designer Kamaali Mehta of Kamaali Couture observes that in case of skin-showing fashion, international trends like peek-a-boo dresses and low deep-cut necklines have been sweeping the markets for many years now. They immediately arrest the eyeballs and back home in India, people are fast adapting to this free-spirited style with visible flying colours. Jain further notes that when it comes to red carpet couture, the major norm of late is to uninhibitedly display the cleavage. It’s very flattering and it can instantly make you look taller and slimmer. Plunging necklines have been trending since the last season and most celebrities and trend-setters are opting for this sensuous style.

Again, if well taken care of, these may look rather drop dead gorgeous and beautiful. The length of the plunging necklines can differ from 8 - 14 deep. Halter-neck as well as the vintage Queen Anne neck are viral now. However, it greatly depends upon the body shape whether the wearer is flat-chested or not, reminds Jain. There are many, suggest Mehta, which are currently doing the rounds. But what have caught my fancy are the V-cut snipping off from the shoulders on top down to right above the bellybutton, the square-cut Jenny Packham (famous British fashion designer known primarily for her ready-to-wear collections and bridal gowns) neckline and the teasing stomach-skimming plunge.

The 74th Golden Globe Awards’ red carpet gala had earlier this year showed us some of the greatest variety of plunging necklines unveiled on the fashion menu, she shares ahead. It’s true that décolletage fashion is nothing new and can be comfortably retraced back from the fashion annals of history, having been an integral part of most royal wardrobes and ballroom gowns.

Times may have changed but the cleavage has remained an important mainstay of wearable fashion. And yes, they continue to make a huge impact to this day. See, the neckline of a dress creates an instant impression on the eye. Even if not left bare, it could still be enhanced with sheer fabrics to add that desirable glamour quotient, asserts Jain.

Talking about the recurrent nature of fashion fundas, Mehta volunteers that as we know everything is coming back right from cold shoulders to the plunging necklines, so this was meant to happen. Stylish themes come and go. They return after a brief disappearance only to fade into oblivion again. Fashion is thus repeating itself but this time it’s bigger and better. Apart from the cleavage, an open back, waist and the occasional slits here and there in an outfit may leave the skin aesthetically exposed.

Albeit, it totally depends upon your body and the bonestructure, yet a few good cuts and shears can conveniently run through the torso, shoulders and your back areas. Since a considerable part of the assets may also remain uncovered, the wearer must therefore exercise adequate self-reliance, poise and coolness. It is extremely imperative to be comfortable in what you wear. If you are donning something that you usually don’t and feel awkward from inside, then it will automatically show on your face. Therefore, self-belief or confidence with a capital C is the key word, cautions Jain.

Some tips can necessarily be followed, like stand up straight, avoid slouching plus wear a cushy and an undemanding pair of footwear to pass the pressure-test. Remember, the right kind of body language, personality and a well-perceived precaution can push the wearer to the winning mark straightaway. Ticking off the correct boxes is always crucial here. You ought to conform to this in order to avoid malfunction and a major embarrassment in public, she elaborates her list of dos and don’ts.

To avoid fashion gaffes, there is also a string of secure options to come in handy in the hour of need: half cups sewn onto the garment itself, n****e tapes or n****e covers, pushup bras with transparent straps and deep-plunge bras. Plunging necklines have to be worn properly. That’s the basic dictum, pat comes Mehta’s advice.

First and foremost, you have to keep in mind how you are sitting. And be very conscious, yet not spoil the show. Double-sided tapes should be your best friend, if you are wearing this type of a neckline, mind you. So make a checklist, before you step out in one, alerts the draper. Other than long tapering halter-necks, couturiers pin-point the crew neck, high neck, chocker neck, boat neck, off-shoulder, cold shoulder, crisscross necklines and many more to be in vogue now.

While everybody raises a toast to our homegrown hotsensations Deepika Padukone and Priyanka Chopra as the finest examples of torch-bearers for plunging necklines in the Indian glamour industry, on foreign shores, it is Kate Hudson, Jennifer Lawrence and Kristen Bell to be the leading favourites of most designers to lend justice to this style that is overtly oomphy and subtly beautiful. From the Oscar’s red carpet to glittering afterparties, the star-studded affairs never tire out of parading the plunging necks in abundance.

Different outfits can be worn with plunging necklines for sure. When done right, wearing a top, dress, jumpsuit, gowns and pantsuits with a deep neckline exposes a beautiful décolletage, insists Jain. Mehta’s prescription reads: Plunging necklines work best on the evening gowns. But one can also wear a plunging neck top with a stunning pair of shorts or skirts and be a stunner on the streets in the company of right accessories i.e. jewellery and shoes. Besides sparkling events and occasions, plunging necklines can be worn to diverse places.

A V-neck looks best when slightly revealed. To wear to workstations, there are ample options like a buttoned down blouse (unbuttoned at the top) or a Henley shaped neckline works just fine. This also goes very well for a lunch or a first date. For a formal evening or a date night, a deeper V-neck looks superbly great, helps Jain. Mehta adds they also look perfect at high-tea events to the proposed list.

The palette for the plunging neckpieces is pleasingly varied. My suggestion is to buy the V-neck tops in solid, neutral colors, such as black, white, cream, brown and grey. They lay down an apt foundation in your closet and would nicely blend with all of your outfits. Black, gold and wine are generously suitable for gowns, aids Jain. Mehta selects deep, vibrant solid shades like black, bottle green, burgundy to look wonderful as well as perk up the mood. Prints and motifs like pin-stripes, floral canvas artwork, artistic watercolour prints and sequences may compliment this fashion to the hilt, feels Jain.

While Mehta recommends: I would restrain from indicating any prints as that would make your outfit look very busy and cluttered. Instead solid colours and a block-effect would convincingly highlight a particular part of the body. In the accessories department, long tassel earrings, chokers and a long chain falling between the cleavage ideally accompany a plunging neckline, say experts.

A pair of stiletto heels should lend a classy touch to this naughtyyet-nice look, inputs Mehta. Hairdos are vital as that might make or mar your day. A messy bun, beach waves, pony-tails, well almost everything looks fabulous, chips in Jain. Nude lipstick, dramatic eyes and falsies and you are good to go, she lets out with a pause.

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