Updated on January 12, 2023 by Sarina Tariq
A drop shoulder style is one where the armhole extends and slopes down past the natural shoulder line. If there is a sleeve, it does not begin at the natural shoulder line but down below, usually 1-4 inches below.
The main characteristic of a drop-shoulder style is that the bodice droops over the arms. It may feature a lower, wider armhole. The sleeves hang off the body instead of being close-fitting. The whole silhouette of the drop shoulder style is that of a laid-back, relaxed aesthetics.
The whole silhouette of the drop shoulder gives off an effortless and relaxed vibe, which makes it perfect for casual wear such as t-shirts, hoodies, and sweatshirts. You will find this style in boyfriend sweaters, boxy crop tees, and even jackets.
Some tops may have voluminous sleeves and cuff the bottom of it to create an interesting silhouette.
The style is also popular for athleisure wear due to its comfortable fit. Many athleisure brands have crop hoodies in this style. The increased movement and comfort are the attraction here. The relaxed fit of these hoodies makes them perfect as streetwear. The cropped length of these hoodies balances out the dropped shoulders for an overall slouchy yet chic look. The simple, clean lines of this style appeal to youthful, urban consumers.
But this style is most common on sweaters.
Drop shoulder style sweaters
This is a very popular style on sweaters. For one, it looks nice and relaxed. And the making of this style in knitting is far easier compared to a fitting one. No shoulder shaping is needed or cutting of the curve of the sleeves.
How is the drop shoulder style constructed?
In this style, the shoulder line of the garment is positioned lower than the natural shoulder line. This effect can be achieved by constructing the bodice as a rectangle without any curves.
The shoulder line is not shaped. One simple straight line from the top, after over-extending the shoulder line, defines the new drop-shoulder shoulder line.
Usually, the over-extension is limited to the width of the bodice, but it could also go way beyond that. The shoulder can extend to the point of looking like a sleeve as in the picture below.
If the extensions is more it can even look like a half-sleeve.
The drop shoulder can also be constructed draped on a mannequin or dress form.
In knitting drop shoulder style sweaters, you have to knit two rectangles for the front and back bodices and then attach triangular-shaped sleeves to this.
Why not a drop-shoulder top? Who should not wear it?
A drop shoulder style is not the right one for my round, inverted triangle body shape, as it makes me look more rounder, and top heavy. But I keep buying tops in this style because they look (and feel) so comfy and relaxed. On a psychological level, I am a drop-shoulder dresser, though physiologically, I am not. My bad.
As it has a relaxed, loose fit, with overhung sleeves and straight cuts without shaping, the whole silhouette can look boxy and bulky.
So if you are broader on the upper body, maybe you should stay away from this style (i.e., if you want to play down your broadness).
The sloping shoulder lines of this style can make round shoulders look more prominent.
Even on others, the drop shoulder style sleeve may create unwanted bulk under the arms.
All oversized garments can be drop-shouldered, but not all drop-shouldered tops are oversized. You may mistake oversized clothing for a drop-shoulder style. Though most of the drop shoulder styles feature oversized silhouettes and an intentionally loose fit around the shoulders and arms, you cannot wear oversized t-shirts in the hope of it looking like a drop shoulder style – it would look too long and too slouchy and baggy on you.
What to wear with drop shoulder tops?
Drop shoulder style tops are characterized by a straight, boxy silhouette where the shoulders dip slightly lower than the traditional armholes. So it is better to pair it with well fitter trousers and jeans. This can balance the whole silhouette; other than these, you can wear drop-shoulder tops with tailored skirts.
You may think of this as just an oversize style. But it need not be. It is a change from the structured, tailored clothes we wear to the office. Clothes can make you feel things, and a drop-shoulder style can make you feel relaxed. Try it.