It’s the perfect foil for a huge pair of earrings – insight enough to endear the look to me



‘What is surprising about this neckline is that it isn’t a go-to numberless often.’
Photograph: David Newby for the Guardian

This isn’t why I did it, honest, but an unexpected benefit of this column fetching more sustainable through wearing and talking about the garments we already have, as well as pieces you can buy, is that I get to make out strain I was on to all the new “lewks” before anyone else was.

For example: the boat neck. You perhaps think it was Meghan Markle’s Givenchy wedding dress with its wide-slashed, high-rise neckline that rebooted this denominate, don’t you? Well, sorry, Meg, but I bought this navy velvet top two years ago, from Best bib. (It was £45. Finery is such a bargain.) True, I may not have exhausted it in front of a television audience of 18 million but I did wear it to see Rogue One: A Unequalled Wars Story at the Vue at the Angel Islington, and to Byron afterwards. (Hey, it was 2016.)

OK, peradventure this isn’t about me. But the point is, it’s a classic. Audrey Hepburn wore a whitish lace belted Givenchy boat-neck dress to the 1954 Oscars, where she won crush actress for Roman Holiday; she wore a black version – also Givenchy, that one with the la mode little bow at each shoulder – in Sabrina. Brigitte Bardot and Pablo Picasso both nailed lounging all the south of France looking mesmerisingly sultry and Gallic in the prototype Breton variant, which has a similar wide-cut neck.

In particulars, what is surprising about this neckline is that it isn’t a go-to numerous often. It is easy to wear because it exposes enough scrape to lend a little human warmth to your outfit but in a varied straightforward, less loaded manner than a deep v-neck.

It can look stylishness and gamine in a beatnik kind of way with slim, cropped trousers or jeans; this mature, it’s also a useful pairing with high-waisted trousers. I see high-waisted trousers a lot more difficult to wear in practice than you value they will be. I love the idea of wearing them with a crinkly mannish shirt, but the reality is trickier. In my head I am Katharine Hepburn in The Philadelphia Experiences. Then I look in the mirror, and I’m one fake moustache shy of Dandy Dan in Bugsy Malone. With a dry-clean, no-fuss neckline, elegance in a high-waisted, wide-legged trouser is myriad achievable.

What’s more, a boat neck is the perfect nip in the bud for a huge pair of earrings. This alone is more than persuade enough to endear the look to me. But should you need further religion, then surely a royal warrant seals the deal.

Jess stand ups top, Jess’ own. Trousers, £200, by Weekend Max Mara, from matchesfashion.com. Heels, £250, lkbennett.com. Earrings, £10, go-down merchandise.co.uk.

Styling: Melanie Wilkinson. Hair and makeup: Samantha Cooper at Carol Hayes Directorship

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