Taking the plunge
How low can you go? The last time necklines were this shape they adorned Seventies medallion man. This time the subtly sexy deep V is strictly for women
Tuesday 12 November 1996
As soon as the deep V neckline is tried, having a cleavage will suddenly look dated. Because instead of exposing the entire top of half of your chest in one curvy sweep, the deep V will show off only the best part: the collar bone and the top part of the rib-cage, plunging down as far as you are happy for it to go. It is not a frivolous look, no dizzy, frizzy, "Hello Boys", or "Look at Me" connotations; rather, it is more subtly sexy.
Large, small and medium-sized breasts can be accommodated by the deep V (it is not solely for flat-chested women as it appears on the catwalk). Unbutton your slim-fit shirt just so, to leave a hint of what lies beneath if you are well endowed, or for the more brazen of any size go for the plunge with elongated V-necks that are available from Donna Karan, Calvin Klein, Clements Ribeiro, French Connection, Morgan, Kookai and Wallis (to name but a few).
The V zone has cropped up time and again since the autumn collections have been unveiled in the glossy magazines. There's model-of-the-moment number one, Guinevere Van Seenus wearing that zip-front Donna Karan body, unzipped to her navel, in one shoot; and model-of-the-moment number two, Esther de Jong, wearing a deep V Yves Saint Laurent couture dress in another. Not to mention the plethora of models who unbutton their shirts to their navels at every photo opportunity. Take a look at any fashion magazine and you will see it there, the geometric triangle shape that has become the newest erogenous zone without us even noticing.
The last time the deep V was this popular was in the Seventies, but it was men who were wearing it. With shirts unbuttoned to reveal an expanse of chest hair, into which a gold medallion ubiquitously nestled. So advice to men at this point is leave this trend for women, it didn't look good then, and it certainly won't now.
The deep V is an old favourite for evening, but as daywear it is uncharted territory. French Connection have done a small range of tops that are exaggerated versions of the normal V neck. The cheapest, a cotton waffle short-sleeved T-shirt, comes in navy and white and costs pounds 19.99. Their thicker nylon jersey top (shown here) can be worn with a bra, and comes in navy, bright blue, chocolate brown and green. But the best high-street collection comes from Kookai, who have taken a lot of direction from Gucci this season. Their long, fluid, black jersey crepe caftan dress is an instant classic. Wallis have done a similar dress in their upmarket W line, available in sizes 8 to 16. Also check out Warehouse; their pounds 30, washed silk hip-length deep V tunics come in red, purple, black and brown, and for the more adventurous they come in tiger and leopard print too.
The most extravagant way to show your V-zone this season is to go to Donna Karan. Her new flagship store opened on New Bond Street in September, and the sleek interior is just the place to be seduced by a navy double-faced wool unitard like the one in our picture
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