Broad shoulders draw a wide horizontal line across your body, a line that can be accentuated or minimized depending on how you dress. Because they are the frame of your neckline, your shoulders' appearance can be impacted by the cut of your top. The right attire and accessories can create a proportional look from head to toe.
Breaking Up Broad Shoulders
Accessories for both men and women can break up broad shoulders, creating two shorter shoulder segments rather than one long horizontal line above your chest.
Both men and women can wear a scarf draped down the center of the chest, which breaks up the horizontal line of your shoulders.
Women can add a long beaded necklace to achieve a similar look. Likewise, vertical embellishments around the chest, such as beading along the V-neck of a top, can create visual interest beyond your shoulders.
The structure of a collared shirt serves to break up the line of your shoulders. The collar shortens the distance between your neck and shoulder, creating the illusion of narrower shoulders.
Creating a Vertical Silhouette
When selecting tops, opt for items that draw the eye away from, rather than emphasize, your shoulders.
Replace crew neck T-shirts with V-neck and scoop-neck tops, which draw the eye down to the chest. Select longer jackets and blazers, which create vertical, rather than horizontal, visual interest and elongate your torso. Sturdy and heavier fabrics, such as cotton and polyester, are more structured and won't emphasize your broad shoulders by clinging to them.
Instead of slim or skinny-fit pants, don bootcut styles to balance out the top and bottom halves of your body. Women should avoid slim-fitting pencil skirts, instead opting for skirts with volume, which provides balance for your top.
Choosing the Right Sleeves
The sleeves of your tops can deemphasize broad shoulders. Choose sleeves that create soft shoulders, and avoid any sleeves that leave your shoulders looking boxy.
Two-toned raglan sleeve tops create a diagonal seam that cuts from the underarm to the collarbone, which breaks the line of broad shoulders. Both men and women can wear this casual top, which pairs well with jeans or relaxed fit chinos.
Women may opt for dolman sleeved, or batwing sleeved, tops, which feature softly sloping shoulders. This cut features wide sleeves and loose-fitting fabric around the shoulders.
Choosing the Right Colors
Dark colors help to slim your silhouette. Opt for a dark-colored top paired with a statement bottom. A black, navy or dark gray top creates the visual illusion of slimmer shoulders.
Women can opt to wear a full, floral skirt or a pair of cream bootcut trousers with a dark top. These bottoms create contrast with the dark, shoulder-slimming top.
Men can opt for a statement pair of slacks or shorts. Plaid shorts, seersucker pants or a colorful pair of relaxed-fit chinos can create visual interest and complement the dark-colored top.
- Glamour: Your Style Problems Solved; How Can I Make My Broad Shoulders Look Smaller?
- Joy of Clothes: Neckline Factors; Shoulders
- Oprah: What to Wear If You're Broad Shouldered
- Sydney Morning Herald: Men; How to Dress for Your Shape
- Glamour: $50 And Under: 3/4 Length Sleeve Tops That Flatter Your Arms
Barbie Carpenter worked as a technical writer and editor in the defense industry for six years. She also served as a newspaper feature page editor and nationally syndicated columnist for the Hearst Corp. Carpenter holds a Bachelor of Science in journalism from the University of Florida and a graduate certificate in professional writing from the University of Central Florida.