how to dress when you have narrow shoulders

by Sylvia

Best tops for narrow shoulders
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I recently received a request from Clarissa. She writes: “Hi, I love your site! But I miss one thing: could you post some style advice for narrow shoulders? I have an hour glass body shape but narrow shoulders … Thank you”.  It’s indeed a topic I have not discussed yet, so let’s do that today.

The ideal shoulder line is almost equal to your hips as in the hourglass figure. Not too square and broad and not too narrow and sloping. But if you don’t have it naturally (most of us don’t) then we can always create the illusion of this ideal with our clothes.

dresses for narrow shoulders

1. Miu Miu 2. Etro 3. Donna Karan 4. Alex Evenings

With narrow shoulders your main aim is to broaden the look of the shoulders. There are several ways to do this:

  • Make sure that your shoulder seams are at the right place and fit perfectly, which means that the seam extends just past your natural shoulder. This may be tricky as one size down may be too tight and one size up may be too big for your shoulders. In that case there is no other good solution, but a good tailor.
  • Choose an off the shoulder top or dress
  • Puffy sleeves also work really well
  • Boat and square necks give a widening effect too
  • On shirts, the bigger the collar, the better!
  • Cap sleeves also work well like this dress I featured earlier
  • A wide v-neck also leads the eye to the side which has a broadening effect
  • Have accents on the shoulders
  • Any horizontally placed details on your shoulder and neckline will also widen
  • Use shoulder pads to widen shoulders (subtly of course)
  • Opt for wider straps instead of smaller ones (avoid halter tops altogether)
  • You can scrunch your sleeves a bit and blouse up your upper arm area, which draws attention up and away
  • Although raglan sleeves are usually advised for broad shoulders, they can also work well for narrow shoulders, since you don’t have to worry that the seem is at the correct place of your shoulder.
  • A trench coat with epaulettes is also great to add volume to the shoulders.

great tops for narrow shoulders

1. Lauren Ralph Lauren 2. Patterson 3. Lamade 4. Max Studio

A bit more about shoulder padding

  • Look for natural rounded shoulder pads
  • Choose them in skin colour
  • Make sure they are not too thick. You want them to widen your shoulders, not make them bigger
  • You can just wear them underneath your bra and pull them as far wide as necessary to balance your hip
  • Make sure your shoulders pads are not visible through your fabric

 These are just some of my ideas. If you have narrow shoulders, let me know what works for you!

 This article contains affiliate links

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{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Tracey

I have narrow shoulders. I wore shoulder pads constantly in the 80s – even under t-shirts. Thankfully I got over that addiction. I avoid halter tops (as you noted). I also avoid mandarin type collars and key holes as they close me in and make my shoulders look more narrow. In addition to your tips I also look for scoop neck shirts.

Reply

Sylvia

Yes of course Tracey. I forgot to add the scoop neck shirts to my list. Thank you so much for the feedback!

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Greetje

I have the opposite… broad shoulders. So I will give this article a miss. But one of my colleagues is interested and although she is not 40 yet (haha) she will pay a visit.

Reply

Sylvia

Thanks for referring her Greetje!

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Nomi

I love the Donna Karan dress and want to look into getting it, but your link for that is the same as the Alex evening dress. Where’s the DK? thanks.

Reply

Sylvia

Hi Nomi. Thanks for pointing that out. I’ve updated the link now.

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Playing With Scarves

Hi Sylvia!
These are great tips. Yet I think a V neck top (with long sleeves) is flattering too on women with large shoulders; it creates a nice vertical effect.
Enjoy the lovely new store you wrote about. Lucky you! Singapore is a dream city for women who love shopping. I so hope to go to Singapore again…..
xo,
Anne

Reply

Sylvia

You are right Anne. I had added the wide v-neck to the list already but v-necks in general are great for women with narrow shoulders. When you ever do visit Singapore again, be sure to say hi.

Reply

Playing With Scarves

I will for sure, Sylvia! Thanks :-) Enjoy your day!

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