How to Downplay Broad Shoulders

One of my friends sent me a great Fashion Friday suggestion — she says, “what about those of us with broad shoulders?”

I can relate to this conundrum. I have square shoulders and a short neck, and in recent years I’ve been paying more attention to how my necklines flatter (or don’t).

For instance, I used to love halter tops until a good friend told me that she didn’t think I look as good in them as I think I do. (Now THAT is a good friend, people.) (I haven’t worn a halter top since.)

Evidently a halter top emphasizes broad shoulders. For those of us with a broader shoulders, we are better off with open necklines — scoop necks and V-necks, particularly. I also feel like cap sleeves, as well as the style of sleeve that comes JUST TO THE EDGE of the shoulder, are a bad look for me. They seem to widen the shoulders as well.

(So if you have narrow, slopey shoulders, you can learn from this post too. Halter tops and cap sleeves are your friends!)

And another thing? NO SHOULDER PADS.

I look back at pictures of myself in the eighties and CRINGE. The shoulder pads are SUCH a bad look for people with broad shoulders. Unless, of course, you WANT to look like a linebacker.

danny aiken

Beyond that, I decided that this topic required a little bit of research so I consulted my trusty friend Google.

As always, the goal in dressing ANY body type is to create balance and shift the emphasis to your most attractive body parts.

Here are some “tricks of the trade” to help downplay broad shoulders:

1. Just say no to shoulder pads.

As I said.

2. Raglan sleeves help downplay the broad shoulders because they soften sharp edges.

how to dress broad shoulders

3. Also, a dolman sleeve achieves the same effect.

how to dress broad shoulders

4. Vertical stripes downplay the appearance of full shoulders.

5. Wear dark on top and light on the bottom to help visually balance out a wider upper body and narrower lower body.

how to dress broad shoulders

6. Stay away from boat necks and wide necklines that visually widen the shoulder area. Instead, opt for a narrow V-neck or scoop neckline to elongate the neck and draw the eye inwards. Then add a necklace or some special earrings to attract attention away from the shoulders.

dressing for broad shoulders

7. One article actually recommends halter tops, so go figure. Perhaps it depends on how it is cut.

8. No big collars. In fact, collarless shirts are best. (Funny, I’ve never liked collared shirts on me, but I didn’t know why.)

9. No turtlenecks. Ha. I know turtlenecks don’t flatter me but sometimes I’m too cold to resist the temptation.

I think this is also why I don’t care for myself in scarves – unless they are very thin ones. I usually opt for a necklace instead.

Do you have any tricks for dressing broad shoulders? Share in the comments!