All about halternecks

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Various styles of halterneck attire

A halterneck gown from 1949, photographed by Toni Frissell

Halterneck is a style of strap which holds up women's clothing which features a single strap or material which runs from the front of the garment around the back of the wearer's neck, and which enables most of the wearer's back to be uncovered. The term is derived from the halter, which is placed around an animal's neck.

The halter style is commonly used with swimsuits, which enables the wearer to maximize sun tan exposure on the back and minimize tan lines. The halter style is also used with dresses or shirts, to create a backless dress or top. The neck strap can itself be covered by the wearer's hair, leaving the impression from behind that nothing is holding the dress or shirt up.

If a bra is worn with a halter top, it is generally either strapless or of halterneck construction itself, so as to avoid exposing the back straps of a typical bra.

A halter top is a type of sleeveless shirt similar to a tank top (by the American English definition) but with the straps being tied behind the neck. In another style of the halter top, there is only a narrow strap behind the neck and a narrow strap behind the middle of the back, so that it is mostly backless. This design resembles many bikini tops, although it covers the chest more and may cover some or all of the abdomen at the front.


Halterneck garments are generally considered more provocative than other styles because they leave the upper or upper and middle back uncovered, exposing the shoulder blades. As such, some institutions that otherwise permit casual attire (such as many American high schools and professional workplaces) prohibit the wearing of these garments (along with spaghetti-strapped and other revealing clothing).

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