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 trend like a harness, a viral product, or an unexpected TikTok hack.
Ever since designer Sally LaPointe unveiled her brand’s spring 2022 collection at a rave-like presentation full of neon lights and blazers paired with harnesses, I haven’t stopped thinking about the latter accessory. The styling secured my obsession: Monochrome, work-appropriate suits juxtaposed with harnesses better suited for a night of pre-pandemic partying.
It seems I’m not the only one interested in adding some bits of “fetishcore” into my wardrobe. Searches for harnesses were up by 132% month-over-month in 2022, according to Lyst, while other BDSM-inspired accessories, like leather chokers and latex products, were also on the rise. On TikTok, the trend is spreading: #leatherharness has garnered over 10 million views, thanks to creators showing off their styling tricks.
While I gathered some inspiration from creators on TikTok for my own experiment, I figured the best way to approach this was to wear the piece to a set of situations I wouldn’t associate with a harness-clad outfit — a Friday dinner and a family barbecue — and incorporate the accessory into outfits that feel like a second skin to me. So I set out to try a harness by Zana Bayne, a designer known for her leather accessories made by hand, and another from LaPointe’s spring 2022 collection.
First, I paired a LaPointe vinyl harness with a white button-down shirt, beige shorts, and black heels to a Friday dinner with friends. Although one might expect risky outfits to be worn with one’s closest companions, as a conservative dresser, that’s not something I normally do. So when I walked out to the kitchen to see if my roommate was ready to head out, I was pleasantly surprised by her reaction: “Wow! Fabulous.” So far so good. It got even better when we got to our dinner spot — Chacha Mama on the Upper West Side, thank me later! — and one of the waiters stopped to compliment my outfit on the way out.
Throughout the dinner, I noticed how comfortable I felt wearing a piece that was basically made to constrain my movements. I stood taller, more confident, asserting my presence with poise. Were there families with kids giving my outfit the side eye? Yes. But this is New York — anything goes.
For my next experiment, I walked a riskier road. While on my recent travels to visit family in Puerto Rico, I packed the harness in my carryon, afraid I’d be stopped by TSA officials. I could only imagine what they’d think I do for a living if I told them I was carrying this “for work.” Thankfully, I didn’t have to suffer through that. But I still chose to wear it around family members during a Good Friday barbecue. Oh, lord.
I decided to pair the harness with a black midi dress and flatforms. The otherwise conservative outfit was made subversive by the harness, a juxtaposition I carefully chose to trick my relatives into liking this outfit. It worked. As soon as I walked into my mother’s room, she said, “¿Y eso? It looks good.” Later, at the family function, no one batted an eye when I showed up wearing the accessory, which I took as a sign that they weren’t surprised that, as a devout agnostic, I chose a holy day to sport a dungeon-ready harness.
During the barbecue, I kept feeling confident, just like during the dinner. My back was straighter (I bet my chiropractor will like this experiment), and I felt like my outfit said everything there was to know about me to the people who think they know me best.
I packed the harness back in my carryon, while doing some mental math on how many could I afford to get for myself. I shall obey the trend’s calling soon enough. If you feel like it too, here are some options to try now.
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