2 Aug 2017

Something Has Been Neglected: The Décolletage

Something Has Been Neglected: The Decolletage on vickiarcher.com

I have been meaning to talk about this subject.

Décolletage and my question – how much to show or not to show?

Let me start by saying as I looked for photographs to enhance our chat today, the answer became quite clear. There were very few women I could find photographed with their chests on show and if they were I didn’t feel the images were flattering enough to showcase.

My instinct has always been less is more when it comes to advancing age. There are always gorgeous olive skinned complexions to contradict my intuition and if I were blessed I would be flashing the flesh with as much abandon as I could muster. I’m pale with a skin tending towards the dry so I am prettier these days with a little less reveal.

I did wonder if I were over sensitive as I noticed the necklines of my clothes rising and becoming more elaborate. I even prefer a tee to sit on my collarbone. In truth there is another reason, apart from the skin cover-up, I prefer to add as much length to the body as I can to streamline the illusion.

My thoughts,

Too much bosom and exposed skin does not become us and leaving thoughts to the imagination works wonders when it comes to sex appeal. How did I become so old-fashioned? I sound like an old dame from another era. I promise, I am not at all prudish but I do feel it’s sexier to “cover up” than show off. Ageing skin with a little sun damage and a descending propensity doesn’t do us any favours. On the other hand, supportive undergarments and a beautiful garment can work miracles and take years off. As can a luxurious pashmina, like the one Helen Mirren wears above.

We should dress the neck and chest and pay it as much attention as we do our legs and thighs. How much time do we spend looking at and worrying about the size of those? I certainly neglect my décolletage in the beauty process and I could probably augment my wardrobe with a few prettier blouses.

Feminine or masculine styles can look wonderful and quite alluring even when buttoned up. My go-to is the tie neck blouse, which can be worn in a variety of ways. Tied in a bow, left undone or sometimes when the fabric is long enough, I make a windsor knot.

There is one disclaimer.

In summer all bets are off and I throw my “cover-up” mentality out the window. It is hot, it is holiday time and the décolletage deserves a little time out. We too deserve time off from serious dressing and focusing on our appearance. Colour, flowing caftans and off the shoulder blouses have their place along side bathers and bikinis. In this case I believe a happy smile and a joyous disposition will make up for any inadequacies we feel about our bodies.

What do you think? Show off or cover up?  

The Décolletage

not to be neglected

***equipment tie neck  ||  lafayette blue haze silk  ||  frame chiffon tie  ||  veronica beard presley tie

divine inspiration

fendi crepe de chine  ||  chloe balloon sleeve  ||  fendi open neck satin

image helen mirren


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Taste of France

I always was amazed at how Claire Chazal would have her blouses unbuttoned quite low while anchoring the news, yet always came across as tough as nails. Bernadette Peters, age 69, is photographed in the New York Times with a very revealing decollètage. I would guess work had been done, but on the other hand, she has always been milky white, so I guess she has avoided sun damage. And Susan Sarandon made headlines last year when at age 69 she went to the SAG Awards in a revealing bra top, and again this year at Cannes.
Personally, I regret that when I was young I didn’t protect the area better. It can be hard–sun block can ruin clothing.


I agree with both of you. I have never been comfortable showing any amount of ahem…cleavage. Perhaps it was my European upbringing ( not French) – when I was younger it just always seemed to look less than lady like on me. Somehow there seemed to be women who carried a décolleté off with great aplomb, just not me. Now, it stills seems like “trying too hard,” so while I favor a nice v- neck or crisp white shirt unbuttoned at the collar, it only goes just so far down.


Thinking back, I wasn’t much into showing off when I was younger either… probably because I didn’t think I had much to “show off”. How silly… I should have
I might not have had much but at least it was well positioned … ;) ;)


The saying ‘show don’t tell’ comes to mind. All the bra tops and see through blouses, to me, miss this point. The scarf in the photo serves as a frame which puts emphasis on Helen Mirren herself. She looks very content in who she is.


That’s the goal isn’t it… What”s that expression? “Leave a little to the imagination”… I think that works too :)

Mimi Gregor

I was always flat-chested when I was young, so I had nothing to show off. With menopause, however, I suddenly developed breasts! Fortunately, I have very little sun damage, so I am inclined to show a little cleavage. Not too much, mind you. But it doesn’t faze me if anyone gets a flash of my french lace bra either. I also try to lengthen my line, and I find that a V-neck works better for me than a crew neck. For some reason, a bateau-neck works well, too, as it shows off my clavicles and broadens my shoulders, as well as lengthening my line.

The trick is to only show as much as you are comfortable with, and to be brutally honest with how much sun damage you have and whether there is enough… erm… firmness for the look. If one is large-breasted or if there is too much… flaccidity, it is decidedly unflattering.


Lucky you Mimi.. :)
I love a peak of a little lingerie .. And that is what it’s about , feeling in your comfort zone and working with that.

mona turner

Completely agree with “less is more,” and to “cover up.” I always think it looks more elegant and classy.

mona turner

Hope you pamper yourself completely today and feel better as the day goes on.


Thank you Mona, yes I am.. and taking advantage by lazing about on a rainy London day :)


I must agree with the “less is more” philosophy. I told my granddaughters that the art is to keep them guessing. When I was doing wardrobe seminars, I admonished my ladies they should bare to just above where the cleavage began, but from there down it was to be covered. I love the allure of a beautifully draped pashmina. Do feel better soon but in the meantime, enjoy your leisure.


I’m with you Vicki, as time passes I take care to cover up a little more. But as a professional I’ve never been one to be too revealing. Yes, less is more!


I was never big and busty so I tended to not have much to show off :) but at this age I have arrived at, I am pleased that the skin is still firm and they are not low and saggy and I don’t have big brown freckles on my chest lol …
If you think about it, there are SO many things to be thankful for as we age … just having breasts makes me happy.


Good post, Vicki! Speaking honestly, my boobs are no longer my best feature. So I don’t disagree with the principle that we should put our best side forward, no matter what it is. Happily, my best feature is my smile — so I get to flash that all I want.

This topic has me thinking about how years ago I imagined it could be psychologically strengthening to visit a nudist colony, baring it all in order to learn not to judge myself or others on the basis of our physical imperfections. After all, I am not the only one who hides an imperfect body beneath my clothes, while imagining all others’ bodies are impeccable. Although I still haven’t visited a nudist colony, I do think it could be a constructive exercise.

Then there was the strange woman at the pool this morning, who, as I climbed down the ladder into the water, swam over and, with no preface, not even “Good morning” or “My name is Sally, what’s yours?” said, “I see you have the same problem I do — you carry your weight in your legs.” It was such a bizarre thing to say, clearly uttered by someone who needs some coaching of her conversational skills. I muttered something about how we all focus too much on our shortcomings and paddled away. But I was right that we really do focus overmuch on our shortcomings.

Finally (so sorry — I didn’t set out to make a blog post out of my comment), this summer I had a dreadful six weeks after “failing” two mammograms and enduring a nasty biopsy. In addition to the great relief I eventually felt upon learning I did not have breast cancer was a new appreciation for my droopy 71-year-old breasts. I’m now giving them more respect, including some better skin care. I’m even showing them off a little more. And the weather is hot, so I have that excuse, too. :)


I loved your post Ann. I am also 71 and l too feel like l not have to explain or apologise for any part of my personality or my body – even my penchant for shoes. My body is like my mind, my own business. I do not reveal all my thoughts to all and sundry so why would l reveal all my body. I only share the bits l like and flatter me – both body and mind😄
However, as we mature we need to keep both our body and mind in the best condition possible. My solution to both is E45 and The Telegraph Crossword. Both are reasonably priced and for me ‘do the trick’
It was lovely to hear you survived ‘trial by mammogram’ so scary for all of us that have made that journey.
Just my thoughts.


Thank you, Georgina. :) Congrats to you, too.

I’d never heard of E45 skin cream (I’m American), but just found it on Amazon and ordered a pot. Thanks for that recommendation. BTW, hubby and I do two crosswords every day together — what good times we have wrestling those things to the ground. :)

Mary Diane

Since I had a few really bad sunburns as a child, I always used sunscreen after that…my English granny would remind me that I had inherited her “peaches and cream” complexion and that I needed to protect my skin at all costs. I am glad that I listened to her and slathered on the lotion. The downside was not being able to dress like a lot of the other girls in the summer and I always wore a sunhat and shades. Sunbathing on hot summer days was an absolute no-no. Now that I am much older, I still get compliments on my skin and all my friends want to know what my secret is! The best part is that when the occasion arises, I do so love to wear an outfit that shows a bit of cleavage…I have a couple of evening gowns that are cut just right…no creepy wrinkled skin yet, but I know it is in my future! I think each woman needs to decide for themselves. If they are uncomfortable with tastefully showing a bit of cleavage, there are so many other ways to radiate femininity and sensuality, especially as our bodies change with age!


I’m now 74 years old but told I look much younger. I think this is partly due to how I dress. I’ve always loved wearing scarves and it’s amazing how a simple kerchief tied over a top will dress it up! People have literally stopped me in the grocery store to complement a simple cotton sop and pants!


It only takes one selfie where we’ve scrunched up our décolletage in the process of reaching out with our arm and phone to realize sun damage has taken it’s toll. If only I had known better! I think a tiny peek perhaps through a mostly buttoned up shirt is acceptable.
That said, with a shortish neck, I look better with an open neckline, otherwise I look as if I have no neck at all!

Anita Rivera

hehehehehe….I HAVE NONE TO SHOW! So, because I have a rather lean look from the waist up, this has never been an issue for me. My concerns have always been and continue to be about what’s down south. But I do agree that less reveal is more appeal. Clothing that elegantly falls or even clings to some extent to our best parts, is what I prefer. For me in summer, a snug tank with a flowing skirt shows off my muscular but lean arms. That tank however, is usually a boat neck style. No more short shorts for me. The flowing skirt is my best device to add an elegant flow to my swagger while my more youthful upper body is celebrated.


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