They’re at it again. At the runway shows, red carpets and on Instagram, you’re seeing young women in see-through chiffon blouses – with no bra. When did this become a “thing?” Now, really, can you imagine standing around chatting at a cocktail party in one of those tops and having anyone pay attention to your face? How much skin is too much to reveal? Especially at our age?
The brutal fact is that many of us are insecure about showing our skin now (not that we would have bared our breasts like that even in our 20s.) We’re dealing with sags, wrinkles, spider or varicose veins, love handles, surgical scars, upper arm flab, drooping breasts and bums. Unless, of course, you’ve worked for a hard body – in which case, congratulations!
But should we care? It depends on who you are and how comfortable you feel in your own skin. 85-year-old Dorrie Jacobson, of Senior Style Bible, is still modeling swimsuits after 60 years. But she is honest about disdain for her spider veins and remorseful about what she wishes she hadn’t done all those years: bake in the sun. Her boyfriend, who is 7-years-younger, doesn’t seem to mind.
And she still models.
So, what can we take away from that? Just choose your battles. Here are some ideas how.
We’ll start with the most daring one. You’re seeing a lot of chiffon showing up this season, mostly in sheer tops. You’ll find many in the perennially popular (but even more so right now) animal prints: leopard, zebra, and snakeskin. Any of these would be a terrific piece for a holiday party, or under the right circumstances, possibly even office attire. How to make them less daring? Add a matching or at least a color-matched camisole to wear underneath. Some of these do come with their own matching camisoles. And a whole lot of them are only sheer in the arms.
You’ll also find many with panels of opaque fabric over the bodice, or up to just above the bust line. When the area over the shoulders is sheer you’ll need either a strapless bra or one that color matches the color of the bodice.
Then there is lace. There is also a trend toward blouses with lacy panels in the upper section of the bodice. Many of these are otherwise pretty covered-up except for the lace portions, and are long-sleeved. It’s a very feminine and pretty way to go with the trend.
If you are averse to showing your upper arms even that much, but still want to add a little allure, there are the one-shoulder, off-the-shoulder or so-called “cold shoulder” tops.
The thing about the one-shoulder styles is that at least one arm, along with the shoulder, is going to be exposed. So unless you have really toned upper arms, this one might be a challenge. For the holidays you’ll see a lot of off-shoulder tops in pretty velvets and chiffons. Many come with ruffles, gathers or ruching along the neckline. Depending on your personal style, that might be perfect for you, or it might appear a little youthful.
You’ll also see tops with what looks like an exaggerated ballet neckline – a softer, more rounded version of a boatneck – that extends out past the clavicle. That is another lovely way to go bare but not too bare.
The strategically-placed cut-out is a way to show a little skin in fairly modest, but still appealing or even glamorous way. Two years ago we started seeing cutouts along the upper arms of blouses. You’ll still see those, but this idea doesn’t work if you’re insecure about your upper arms.
Now we’re seeing cut-outs incorporated into the overall style of the bodice, the back, and the arms, as a more forward fashion statement. In addition to the traditional keyhole in the back of the neckline, there now are some along the front neckline. One popular trend is a kind of “choker” neckline with a large cut-out below it or to either side of it. Then there are tops with small slits, large ovals across the front of the upper bodice, cut-outs on the shoulders, or slashes and swoops on one shoulder. A lot of these are long sleeved, making them workable if you’re uncomfortable about your arms.
Of course, there are lots of options if you are willing to show your arms, especially for holiday events. Sequins are back in a big way this year. A sleeveless sequined top can be a show-stopper for your party outfit. There are sequined halter tops, camisoles, racer-back tops, and blouses with the larger sequins called pailettes. Another way to turn up the heat is with one of the satin-like sleeveless tops with a slightly lower, draped v-neckline, if you feel comfortable showing the skin on your upper chest. In fact, you’ll also find sleeved sequined tops with a deeper neckline if you don’t want to go sleeveless.
There are also a lot of bare-midriff looks this year as well as sheer chiffon pants. Now, even if the weather didn’t make that unappealing, I think these are two we might take a pass on.
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