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Off-the-shoulder dresses (and tops, for that matter) have come back into fashion in a major way…did they ever really leave? There’s something effortlessly sexy about a neckline and sleeves falling casually over the shoulder.
Whether it’s a vampy, skin-tight Bardot mini dress hugging your every curve, or a casual cotton maxi worn on the beach, the off-shoulder dress has a firm place in our sartorial hearts.
Let’s explore this endlessly versatile, feminine, and popular trend we love…
It’s all about the underwear!
Before we get into ways to style shoulder-baring dresses, we need to talk about what to wear underneath. If you’ve got a bust, you know the importance of chosing the right bra to wear under your top, whether it’s a plain tee or an off-shoulder crop.
Strapless bras can be less than comfortable, so it’s crucial to find the right fit. Online there are many good choices see below.
- Make sure the cups don’t sit too far out from your skin as you risk having a visible ridge and area of open space between you and the bra
- Long-line styles are great for keeping lines smooth and giving a little extra grip to keep the bra where it should be
- For bodycon styles, look for seamless styles that really hug your bust, with a little extra soft padding for shape and protection. Padded bandeau bras are great for this
- If you really can’t go without a super-supportive bra with shoulder straps, opt for off-shoulder dresses that have a shoulder strap as well as bardot sleeves. That way, you can embrace the trend without feeling totally unsupported!
Power-glam: special occasion bombshell
Celebrity inspiration: we couldn’t write this article without referencing the iconic Fashion legend Princess Diana. Specifically, the black off-the-shoulder outfit she rocked in 1994 at a Vanity Fair event.
This dress has gone down in history as the “revenge dress” (Prince Charles, breakup…long story), complete with a sleek clutch and pearl choker necklace.
We can borrow Lady Di’s classic off-shoulder style for special occasions, party season, and formal nights where a good impression is key. This is a perfect way to wear the off-shoulder trend as a formal wedding guest, gala night date, or red carpet jaunt.
- Choose a boned, bustier-style design with a sweetheart neckline and fitted off-the-shoulder sleeves for ultra evening glam
- Make your figure pop with a fitted style and a midi-length to keep things ladylike
- Opt for a thick, supportive fabric such as velvet or thick, lined satin
- To flatter your tummy and feel extra comfortable, look for a design with ruching and draping around the hips and stomach
- Keep things nice and secure by wearing a strapless shapewear bodysuit under the dress
- Add sparkle to the look with a skinny, embellished belt, or a pop of diamonds on your wrist
Summer in the fields: maxi, wedges, and a hat
Celebrity inspiration: Sienna Miller is the unrivaled queen of bohemian Summer style. The post-beach hair, the bronzed skin, the layers of draped, patterened fabric shrouding that uber-hot bod! Let’s take a cue from our favourite English cool girl and style our off-the-shoulder outfits with breezy comfort and festival vibes at the forefront of our minds.
- Look for tiered maxi dresses with shirred off-the-shoulder necklines and ruffled sleeves
- Choose natural fibers such as cotton for best breathability and softness
- Accentuate your waist with a tan leather belt
- Complete the look with a wide-brimmed hat, gold hoop earrings, and strappy sandals in a neutral tone
- Find a shady place, read a book, and bask in the glory of your cute off-the-shoulder look (don’t forget the Insta posts!)
The body-con midi with a wide belt
Celebrity inspiration: one of the most iconic 1980s (though set in the 1960s) movies is, of course ‘Dirty Dancing’. The leading lady Jennifer Grey wore an iconic red, tight, off-the-shoulder midi dress on an 80s red carpet, accessorised with a wide, black belt at the waist. If you want to go all-out 80s and truly embrace the look, this is the right route to travel.
- To make it slightly less “themed” you could try a more relaxed silhouette such as an A-line or bias cut skirt as opposed to a figure-hugging bodycon style
- Use the belt to play with stylish new looks with bold, clashing tones or patterns to offset the dress
- To keep the look modern, edit it once you’re done styling, and remove any uneceassary additions for a clean, fresh look
- For Fall styling, add a long-line coat worn open to show the belt underneath
- Simple pair of denim shorts
- White pumps
- V neck cotton bodysuit
- Black buckle belt