"Body-Conscious" Dresses That Will Still Let You Breathe

From 2000 to just about yesterday, the Herve Leger bandage dress (or a knockoff of it) was a staple in after-hours spaces. It was as ubiquitous in clubs and bars as it was on the red carpet and at black-tie events. Women of all shapes and sizes, and from different communities, all chose the body-con dress as their evening's armor. When you put one on, it smoothed you out and lifted things up — and instantly gave your body the kind of expensive-feeling curves and sleek lines you normally only saw in Photoshopped fashion magazines. It was democratic in a way that clothing items rarely ever are. The only downside, of course, was that you couldn't really breathe in it.
Breathing, of course, is important (some would say that it's crucial to being alive!). And so the bandage dress has slowly faded out of favor, and there hasn't been a silhouette or dress style that's achieved the same things for our figures since. But recently, a slew of party-dress styles have emerged that are indeed "conscious" of your body, but allow you to yawn and yell and chug a beer without depriving your brain of oxygen.
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Ahead are the seven new dress trends that celebrate the body (without crushing it in the process).
Araks Beatrice Bralette Black, $100, available at Araks; Versace shirt and skirt; Nike Air Force 1 Low iD, $140, avialable at Nike.
The Selectively Sheer
If cutouts were the skin-baring clothing detail from last year, this year it's all about selective sheer panels. From those black mesh sections giving LBDs some additional edge to striped shirts that offer a peek-a-boo moment, these little glimpses of skin let you show your body's shape under your clothes, without revealing everything.
3.1 Phillip Lim dress; Roger Vivier Sneaky Viv’ in Leather, $925, available at Roger Vivier.
The Ribbed Knit
A sweater may not immediately seem like a sinuously sexy item, but considering its sex-symbol history, there's definitely an opportunity to de-frump yours. The most body-hugging version of the sweater is the ribbed knit; the mini vertical lines outline your curves like a topographical map. To throw some gasoline on the fire, wear it without a bra.

Topshop Unique Selwyn Shirt Dress, $500, available at Topshop; Adidas Techfit Bra, $25, available at Adidas; X by Gottex leggings.
Topshop Unique Selwyn Shirt Dress, $500, available at Topshop, Adidas Techfit Bra, $25, available at Adidas; X by Gottex leggings; Nike shoes.
The New Peasant Dress
These are not the frowsy, floor-length nightgowns you remember from '60s variety shows. The new style of peasant dresses look like they're spun from invisible spiderwebs and are completely sheer (save for a smattering of shimmering filigrees and floral patterns). Brave souls will wear these with their best underpinnings, but for a less "Here I am!" moment, wear one with black leggings and a sports bra for a clever Opposite Day look.
Pleats Please Issey Miyake top and skirt; Emilio Pucci Sneaker, $620, available at Forzieri.
The Micro Pleat
Issey Miyake's Pleats Please collections have been quietly flying under the radar for the past few years, but your kooky art professor was right all along. Those micro pleats are incredibly flattering, forgiving, and fun to wear, too. Choose a head-to-toe shift dress or coordinating separates that skim over your body.

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The Lazy Girl's Bodysuit
The Kardashians love it. Fashion editors love it. But spending a lot of money on a bodysuit might seem insane, considering you already technically have them in your swimsuit drawer. Wear your favorite one-piece out at night with a dramatic skirt.

The Mermaid Moments
Yes, we know. It’s not as easy to make the case for sparkly mesh as an everyday item. But speaking at someone who has worn a shirt with a netting element on it, it's super fun to wear out, especially if you want to show off something like your arms or chest, but don't want it all the way out there, either.

Kore Swim Selene Surf Maillot, $273, avialable at Kore Swim; Acne Studios skirt; Emilio Pucci Sneakers, $475, available at Emilio Pucci.
The Double-Slinky
One of the biggest red carpet trends for celebrities has been the long-sleeved, floor-length dress that looks like it was poured on. While that silhouette might be a little much for a trip to the bar at the end of your block, you can apply the same concept. Choose a skin-tight long-sleeved shirt (or a rash guard, even!) and pair it with a knee-length skirt in a silky fabric.

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