Welcome to Refinery29’s So, How Is It Really? where we take a look at all of the topics that have the internet talking. In studying them up close, we answer the question of what it’s really like to try out a popular trend like strapless tops, a viral product, or an unexpected TikTok hack.
If you thought '90s-inspired trends were reaching boiling point, think again. The 2020s are the age of a Y2K resurgence and the latest trend to make a comeback? All things strapless. Unlike more discernible trends like slinky butterfly tops and bold arm cuffs, strapless garms come in endless variations and never exactly went out of style to begin with. The specific look that’s become popular in recent months is the supermodel-thin, strapless look – think tube dresses with minimum construction and cropped bandeaus with maximum midriff.
Reminiscent of '90s and noughties-era Kate Moss, Jennifer Aniston and Victoria Beckham, the 2022 strapless look is everywhere. During last month's Copenhagen Fashion Week, brands such as Baum und Pferdgarten and Saks Potts served up strapless looks, while the style has already found its place in the wardrobes of It Girls like Addison Rae and Alexa Demie. It’s safe to say we can expect to see a lot more décolletage in the coming months.
As someone with 36E breasts, I’m not usually fond of strapless styles (if you can imagine tying a pair of balloons together with a rubber band, you might understand why). When I think about going strapless, my mind drifts back to the strapless gown I wore to my aunt’s wedding aged 13. I recall a midi dress draped over my flat-chested frame (I developed later in life) and even then I remember constantly tugging at the top of the dress out of fear of an unexpected flash routine.
Generally speaking, Y2K fashion doesn’t allow much room for heavier chests, often leaving big-breasted people feeling uncomfortable, unaccounted for and unsatisfied in the space. Displaying parallels to Miu Miu’s viral skirt set, which generated a fervour for midriff-baring looks earlier this year, trends like this – primarily showcased on thin, straight-figured models – aren’t always a space within which we get to visualise different body types. So that’s why I decided to give it a try.
Dedicating a full day of work to the cause, I wore this £52 bandeau dress from Free People to our (very casual) office with knee-high boots and a blazer for coverage when needed. Having curves and being 5'7" means often having to size up in mini dresses to cover my butt. With the strapless nature of this dress, though, I was nervous that a size large would be too loose at the top, resulting in disaster. After wearing this dress from 8am to 6pm I can confirm I was pulling it up by the end of the day, but there were no actual nip slips to worry about. Phew.
Also, mainly because I forgot to look for a strapless bra before the trial – and I’ve never found a good one that doesn’t dig into me or make an indent under my clothes – I went braless for this look. While I wasn't bothered by the fact that my boobs were going to sag a little in a strapless dress, I wasn’t a fan of how much the material had stretched by the end of the day. Because it’s made of 100% cotton, the result was a misshapen and wrinkled dress in need of some serious alterations at the waist.
Has my mind changed about strapless dresses? Maybe a little, because I loved the simplicity of this look. However, the loosening of the bodice put me a bit on edge all day. What I would suggest for anyone with big boobs is to opt for a strapless dress that's made of a less malleable fabric, such as faux leather or denim.
Next, I went full Y2K in a strapless scarf top from Urban Outfitters for a day festival in the city. Although not the simple bandeau style of the moment, I chose this top for two reasons: the elasticated and gripped top, and the ability to adjust its tightness. Tying the straps in the morning, I went as tight as humanly possible without cutting off my circulation – turns out that’s the hack I needed all along.
Very rarely did I feel like the top was slipping down, thanks in part to the smartly positioned grips. Overall, this one was a success and I'll definitely wear it again. However, if I were to choose a traditional bandeau style I’d definitely opt for a size down or, again, a stricter material that won’t give over time like the cotton dress.
As for whether I’ll give the strapless trend another go, it's probably a yes – but only with the right fabrics. For my gals with the big boobs (and even bigger than me), I'd suggest mega-tight bandeaus and any tops with adjustable bands. Another solution I'll try myself is layering strapless looks over other tops for support. Catch me in my strapless mini over a long-sleeve sheer top and maybe even a rollneck this autumn. Y2K won't let the skinny girls win this time around.
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