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The History of Boat Neck Clothing

The boat neck, sometimes referred to as a bateau neckline, first entered the fashion world in the 1930s when Coco Chanel introduced it on the runway. She was inspired by the wide necklines on sailor suits. There is also some evidence to suggest that the look was originally a signature of French designer Jenny Sacerdote. After Chanel popularized the look, Hubert de Givenchy designed Audrey Hepburn’s famous Breakfast at Tiffany’s dress, which brought the boat neckline into the mainstream consciousness. (Hepburn also wore another Givenchy dress in Sabrina, causing the bateau neckline to earn the moniker, “the Sabrina neckline.”) More recently, Meghan Markle famously wore a boat neck wedding dress (the gown was a custom piece designed by Clare Waight Keller for Givenchy) for her marriage to Prince Harry. Today, the boat neck is still popular and carries with it a distinctly elegant, “classic” appeal.

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