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.
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.