It may surprise you – it certainly was a surprise to me – that a square neckline on a larger bust is incredibly flattering. It enhances and highlights your bust in the right places and creates the illusion of slimmer shoulder, as well as a longer neck. It’s as equally suited to petite women with a smaller bust and narrow shoulders as it will enhance their curves.
1. Tamzin Dress by By Hand London
For me, the fascination started with the Tamzin dress, a quintessential folk style pattern which I have reviewed in a previous blog post.
2. Asteria Dress by Jennifer Lauren Handmade
More recently, I made the Asteria Dress, which solidified my appreciation for this simple but effective bodice feature.
3. Aisling Blouse by Jennifer Lauren Handmade
This is the sister pattern to the Asteria Dress – reminiscent of the 60’s, this square neckline comes with an optional collar and a choice of a full button down or cut-on-the-fold bodice.
4. The Boleyn Blouse by Stitch Witch Patterns
This one is already in my stash and it’s must-make for any self-respecting Doctor of Renaissance Literature, don’t you think? It’s no secret I love Tudor history so Stitch Witch patterns really do appeal to me. I think this is my favourite, though, and the one best suited to my shape. As a bonus, it’s a really simple make and the square neckline may elevate it to my favourite top pattern, just about The Friday Pattern Company’s Adrienne Blouse.
5. The Picnic Top by Gertie, Charm Patterns Patreon Exclusive
I love Gertie’s picnic set, which I made earlier this year. The skirt pattern is a no pattern make; the instructions are available on Gertie’s You Tube channel. The top is an exclusive pattern for her Patreon members – if you’re a lover of vintage style and you’re not subscribed to this Patreon… honestly, you should sign up. It’s the subscription that just keeps on giving. This button up top with cap sleeves is quintessentially summer. If we get some decent weather this year, I can see me making a few of these.
6. Mindy by Fibre Mood
This is another pattern that has been on my radar for quite a while but I just haven’t got around to making it yet! This Balkan style dress doesn’t just tick the square neckline box, it also has a statement sleeve! What’s not to love?
7. Square Neck Top by Friday Pattern Company
This is an excellent pattern for beginner sewists – it’s a basic boxy fit top but it includes pattern pieces to make the garment in both woven and stretch fabrics, which is a bonus.
8. Enid Sweater by Jennifer Lauren Handmade
This is a gorgeous pattern that I really need to get around to making – loose fitting clothes of any kind don’t suit me but the Enid Sweater is cut on the bias so it’s a gorgeous fit. Like the Juniper Cardigan, it’s cropped; which means I could easily wear this over a dress if I needed an extra layer. What’s really appealing about this pattern to me is that it gives the same kind of look as a vintage knitted sweater pattern would without the hours and hours of knitting. I used to love knitting but since I started sewing I really appreciate how much quicker garment making can be.
9. Evangeline Top and Dress by Violette Field Threads
I recently discovered these pattern designers and I am hooked.
Evangeline is a square-necked bodice with several sleeve options – my favourite is the puff sleeve. I particularly love the top variation as it features a peplum.
10. Isobel Dress by Violette Field Threads
Isobel has both a front and back square neckline. There are several variations in this pattern but my favourite has to be the ruffle.
11. Flora Dress by By Hand London
This is another tried-and-tested pattern that I picked up way at the beginning of my sewing journey. Flora also has a v-neck option, but I really love this tank bodice view with the high square neckline. Looking back at these early makes reminds me that I have come on a lot in fitting – I always have to do neckline adjustments which are generally caused by bust adjustments.
12. Charlie Dress by By Hand London
This is an absolutely beautiful summer dress – I don’t know how it fell off my radar. The square line is blended with an elegant fold-over neckband to create the perfect vintage look.
13. Josie Sundress by Christine Haynes
This is another one that is being bumped up my to-make list. This sundress feels both modern and retro with it’s clean lines and elegant details. It features both a front and back square neckline.
14. The Sun Dress by The Avid Seamstress
What I love about this pattern is that is both smart and casual – it’s one of those dresses that you can wear from office to dinner and make in everything from cotton to jacquard. While if has a button down front, you could just as easily adapt the pattern and cut the front bodice on the fold.
15. The E.S.P. Dress by Decades of Style
I have lost count of how many times I have seen this pattern and said, “I really want to make this…” Well, today I actually bought a copy of the pattern so now I am a step closer. I have seen so many beautiful E.S.P. dresses – it feels like one of those patterns that cant really go wrong. It’s a simple day dress which, like Asteria, I feel is elevated by the square neckline. It also features raglan sleeves which I love in a pattern; it’s one of the reasons Sew Over It Maisie is high up my pattern charts.
As I said at the outset, this list could have been so much longer and maybe some other day when I have time I’ll write a second instalment.
I’m also interested in the history of style features and looking back on the historical provenance of the square neckline makes me even more fond of it. The Renaissance was a period of remarkable change, ushering in what we early modernist call the ‘golden age’; not only did literature, art and music flourish; so too did fashion. Some of the most popular styles of the Renaissance included slashing (the outer clothing would be cut in slits and the underclothing pulled through), the ruff (which would become larger and more elaborate as the era progressed), and detachable sleeves (this was a means of changing the look of an outfit without having the cost of an entire garment).
Clothing became rounder and fuller; women’s garments began with high waistlines and square necklines. Sleeves became rounder and had to be stuffed.
The square neckline was also characteristic of 18th and early 19th century gowns – think Bridgerton for a point of reference – and was often combined with cap sleeves, ruffles and shirred empire bodices.
The square neck is often referred to as ‘Regency style’. During this era, the square neckline was often worn with a ‘modesty panel’, a piece of sheer fabric that was draped around the neck and tucked into the bust line. Since then, the square neck has remained a popular style of neckline, featuring prominently in 1950’s fashion.
It enjoyed a resurgence in the 1990s when, borrowing from 1950s fashion, the square neckline was back in vogue.
The mid-century inspired look felt very modern in the ’90s’ plunging low to the cleavage, it still felt demure thanks to the thick straps which were usually a feature with square necklines. With its longevity in fashion history, it’s safe to assume you can’t go far wrong with a square neckline.