Boat Neck: Know its History and More

A boat neck also known as the bateau neck or Sabrina neckline is a straight neckline that stretches from the collarbones to the shoulders. 

It can be a mixture between the crew neck and the off shoulder dress style. 

In fact, it is also seen as a rather wider version of the crew neck, however, the bateau neck surely shows the collarbones and is not only wide. 

Looking for some boat neck dresses? You are at the right place. 

Let’s find out how you can style it and what to wear in this article. 

Keep reading below to know more! 

bateau style history

History of the Bateau Neck 

The neckline gets its name from French origins. 

Bateau is French for boat. 

The French striped sailor shirt was a cotton t-shirt with thin navy and cream stripes. 

These naval uniforms in France date back to 1858. 

This mariniere style was made for the purpose so that the navy could escape the 

garment if the need arises. 

It came to the modern fashion through Coco Chanel. 

It was part of the fashion line just right before the World War 1 in 1917. 

The boat neck became revolutionary because this design gave a break from the corsets era and introduced a more relaxed look for women. 

Building up on that Audrey Hepburn is known as the one popularizing it in Hollywood. 

In the movie Funny Face from 1956,she wore a navy striped Breton look. 

Thus from that point onwards, making the neckline and the look mainstream yet classy. 

In t-shirts both men and women wear this in a loose fitting classic style. 

Because of its wider neck, even children can put it on and take it off easily so it is commonly found in their clothes as well. 

Now you will find many variations of the classic neckline. 

They are paired several striped patterns in t-shirt. 

It has gone beyond the navy blue and cream, to mixing several other colors together, usually a darker and neutral one. 

Besides that, the boatneck style has transitioned to dresses, sweaters and many other clothes. 

Let’s find out more about it. 

styling the neckline

Wearing the Boat Neck Style 

The boat neck runs horizontally front and back reaching the shoulder points. 

It is a wide neck that goes across the collarbone. 


Generally, this design is on the casual side. 

Therefore, you usually have shirts made from cotton jersey or t-shirt fabric. 

Since these t-shirts are informal, loose and baggy they are not associated with formal wear. 

For that, there will be the dresses. 

Showing off your neck and collarbones is easier with a convenient neckline. 

Thus it is ideal to wear in dresses. 

The t-shirts are usually paired with pants or jeans to complete the look. 

Casual boatneck tees with pants and sneakers are ideal for your day. 

It is a relaxed style while not looking lazy or unkempt. 

While it is a common style in t-shirts, it is also present in dresses and sweaters.


You will find a winter weight boat neck style sweater a little rare though. 

That is because this cut naturally shows a lot of the neck. 

As the neck is bare from the collarbone area and some of the shoulders, it is not ideal to wear in winters thus, not a neckline preference in winter wear. 

That said, you will still find a few sweaters with this style. 

What you are more likely to find them in is another sweater i.e. summer sweater. 

These lightweight sweaters in the boat neckline are popular and common. 

You can wear it when it is only slightly chilly when there is no harm in baring the neck area. 

body types for boat neck

Body Types for a Boat Neck 

This type of neckline best suits people with a narrow and thin neck as well as collarbones. 

People with a smaller chest will look better in this neckline because the wide neck creates an illusion of a larger chest. 

For this reason, this neckline works better for people with a pear shaped body. 

The wide neck helps to visually balance a pear shape. 

As the pear shaped body types have wider hips and a smaller bust, this neckline suits them well. 

However, it leaves the ultimate impression on the neck. 

Any blouse or dress with a boat neck can draw the eye towards your shoulders. 

Hence, it not only gives the illusion of a larger chest, it also gives the illusion of a better posture. 

For that reason, it is an elegant neckline for any dress. 

That said, it is not necessary to have a long neck to wear this style fabulously. 

It can be flattering without it. 

However, it may not look the best on people who have broad shoulders. 

Boat Neck in Dresses 

The most fancy boat necks are present on wedding gowns

It can be a plain neckline or it may feature a straight piece of lace. 

That helps to frame the bride to be’s face as well as the neck as it stretches across the shoulders.

To the bride, this neckline will give an elegant as well as regal look on their bog day. 

Though, the neckline can be worn for any formal dress given that you want to draw attention to your neck and collarbones. 

So whether it is a short dress or a long one, if the cut is flattering on you, you can carry the two very well. 

But first, let’s find out how you can style it. 

styling boat neck

Styling the Neckline 

Wavy Neckline Skater Dress 

Boat neck does not simply have to be a broad piece of fabric. 

In fact, this piece of fabric can have a lace or be covered with gemstones. 

It may also have a slightly different cut with a wave even if it remains the boatneck. 

Moreover if the overall cut of the dress is a skater dress, all you need to do is to pair it up with heels as well as some classic earrings and you are good to go. 

BodyCon Midi Dress 

A bodycon fits to the body giving you a bold look. 

If you add a boat neck to the mix it will only make the dress look bolder. 

You can wear it at semi-formal events or casual parties. 

Pair it up with striking makeup to complete your overall bold look for the event. 

Plain Short Sleeve Sheath Dress 

This is a simple cocktail party dress. 

You may even pass it on the shelf if it is of any other neckline than the boat. 

However, the boat neck is timeless and elegant. 

It makes the simplest of dress stand out and look classy. 

Therefore, any plain dress can make for an amazing outfit for a semi-formal event provided that it has a boat neck. 

Pair it with heels and earrings to complete the look. 

Jewelry for a Boat Neck 

When it comes to selecting a boat neck dress, clearly the focus is on the neck and collarbones. 

Therefore, it is best to leave that area bare. 

This way no accessories will mask the attention on the neck and collarbones. 

Thus, it is best to stay away from wearing necklace. 

What you can wear are striking earrings. 

Especially big, dangling earrings pair well with this neckline as the neck is bare. 

boat neck dresses

Boat Neck Dresses at Alesayi 

When you are looking for dresses to wear for a formal event, drop by at Alesayi Fashion to get the perfect dress or evening gown for the occasion. 

Specifically looking for a boat neck dress? We have several to check out: 

  • This white boat neck high neck evening dress comes with a silver pattern and a wide neck showcasing your collarbones. Wear it to a part or event and gauge all the attention. 
  • The grey boat neck below knee evening dress has all the sparkles and sizzle that make it a statement piece for the evening. Its modern cut complement with an illusion neckline gives you the coverage needed while remaining elegant and classy.
  • To make a statement and show your authority, this boat neck column evening dress in green is the best fit. It is regal and authoritative. 
  • On the other hand, if you want something laid back but still wish to look elegant, this boat neck A-line gown in beige has black exquisite pattern but a modest neckline. It is not as wide but enough to make the dress timeless. 
  • This boat neck slip dress is embroidered in turquoise over a skin color. It hugs your body and fits it tightly. Thus, giving the illusion of the embroidery being on your skin. 
  • This black boat neck evening dress is best for partywear. Using gems and stones, it makes for an exquisite neckline as the pattern continues beneath. The dress itself is plain but the neckline adds to its style and elegance. 


A boat neck style is timeless. 

Whether you wear it in a plain dress or embellished one, the neckline will have a presence of its own. 

Therefore, if you intend to make a lasting impression, choose a dress with a suitable neckline that highlights your good features. 

Head over to our shop to see more option. 


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