At BeautyAnswered, we're committed to delivering accurate, trustworthy information. Our expert-authored content is rigorously fact-checked and sourced from credible authorities. Discover how we uphold the highest standards in providing you with reliable knowledge.

Learn more...

In Fashion, what is a Surplice?

Sheri Cyprus
Sheri Cyprus

In fashion, a surplice is a diagonally crossed neckline and/or bodice. It is also thought of as a "faux wrap" style and creates a deep v-shaped neckline. This is a fashionable and very feminine look used for women's clothing, yet, ironically, it was inspired by garments worn by men.

Today's surplice style was suggested by the tunic vestment garment traditionally worn by male church leaders in many Western churches. These vestments were, in turn, inspired by the Greek alb tunic and are often white with fairly wide sleeves. The surplice styles made popular in women's fashion are recognizable to the vestments only in the crossover aspect.

A surplice creates a deep v-shaped neckline.
A surplice creates a deep v-shaped neckline.

Women's fashions may be in the form of T-shirts, sweaters or dresses. The surplice may be just a cross-over neckline that ends before the waist, or it may extend into the bodice of the garment. A faux wrap top or sweater may also have a self-tie at the side to accentuate the wrap look. Some tops that end the surplice at the bust have a band of material at this point that covers the seam and creates an empire, or high, waist.

The surplice, or faux wrap, style differs from authentic wrap styles in that the diagonal front seam is sewn up. In a true wrap top, the seam is not sewn shut, but rather is attached to the rest of the garment with strings or ties to hold the front closed. Sometimes, gaping can occur with the front of the true wrap, which is why a surplice style can be more practical and comfortable that an actual wrap.

Surplice looks are popular in both casual and dressy clothes. Materials vary widely from cotton to cashmere and silk to sweatshirt jersey. Some wedding dresses may either have a front cross-over styling or a cross-over back. The style is flattering to virtually all figure types, and these garments may have long sleeves, short sleeves or be sleeveless for even further versatility.

Discussion Comments


"The surplice is a fashionable and very feminine look..."

Women have co-opted and invaded every single thing that was once for men. The only irony is that, once they do so, men who dare to go there any more risk, "Ewwww, that's so gay!" and "I wouldn't go out with a guy like that!" comments from the very same women.

I've seen it happen in my own lifetime, with bell-bottom jeans. They were cool in the 1970's, but guys don't dare anymore. No wonder some people refer to dressing in modern "male appropriate" attire as being "in drab." It gives a whole new meaning to "stealing the pants" off of someone.

Post your comments
Forgot password?
    • A surplice creates a deep v-shaped neckline.
      By: Jeanne McRight
      A surplice creates a deep v-shaped neckline.