Go on, dare to bare

Wardrobe peekaboo

Go on, dare to bare

Work that body now! This floaty creation with bare shoulders is all about subtle seduction. AFPA society gets the style icons it deserves, and from Samantha Jones to Lady Gaga and Shradha Sharma, it seems we are now at a turning point, at a definitive moment in our history. And if fashion offers any clue to where we are in the evolution of the human race, it is at the apotheosis of sexualised, body-conscious fashion.

From tight to diaphanous, from lacy to short, from pantless to panties, it’s all over the catwalks and in stores everywhere, much to the dismay of grannies muttering about how society has quite clearly lost all its morals and how nothing good can come of this latter-day nudity.

The new looks can be worn by women of any age, but as Samantha will prove in the sequel to Sex and the City, which hits cinemas next month, a banging body is absolutely necessary to the body-con (“body-conscious”) trend.

But there’s no need to burn your bras and lead a protest march down MG Road in nothing but corsets and suspenders. Instead, save those very garments for an evening or two out – just make sure you don’t take the look too much to the max. Wearing this season’s nude sheer outfits to the office could quite conceivably both make you the centre of unwanted attention of all kinds as well as get you a pink slip.Without further messing about, then, we look at how you can get the super-sexy look without looking super tarty.

Lace & sheer
Nearly two years ago, when everyone else still thought lace was only for doilies and curtains, fashion-forward Miuccia Prada devoted an entire collection to this most versatile of materials. It took until last winter for other designers to start trimming their clothes with lace, but the barely-there fabric has now come into its own this season, with boudoir-inspired floaty tops and wonderfully feminine skirts on racks everywhere. Julien McDonald, for instance has rolled out a range of lacy tops, while Chanel put the fabric at the centre of their collection. Lace isn’t for grannies any more, it’s been dusted off and reinterpreted into the fabric favoured by avante-garde fashionistas everywhere.
And if you think lace is too twee, there’s a wide range of diaphanous, filmy fabrics to choose from.

This mistake is social death: Avoid the call-girl look by steering away from lacy garments that are too tight and by layering it instead.

Also remember that black lace is always sophisticated and edgy, but avoid white when wearing lace – it can come across as too bridal.

Get it right: A big way to dress up lace is to team it with its all-time classic partner, leather. It’s the perfect look for the independent woman who isn’t afraid of showing her vulnerability – with the right man, of course. At Gucci, the biker chick look rocked the catwalk. You could also slip a satin camisole under a sharp blazer for a subtle attempt at seduction.

The practical option: Mesh or crochet instead of sheer georgettes.
Yes, it’s closer to the lace trend, but nobody above a size six should even attempt to go sheer. Mesh is definitely more forgiving than dare-to-bare nudity, accentuating curves and covering up odd, jiggly bits that totally transparent materials simply don’t.
The budget buster: And if you want to save a few rupees by updating last season’s look, wear your virginal new lace with rock-chick slashed jeans – a hint of lacy nothings showing through is both flirty and seductive.

The desi connection: Look no further than Anita Dongre, who ditched the lace for our very own home-embroidered chikankari. At the last Lakme India Fashion Week, she offered a style direction for the new global Indian by sending out a sheer kaftan over short shorts and a bikini top. Also at LIFW, we loved how Christopher Kane married the floral trend with the sheer, but sending out a floral-embroidered shift dress that would not look out of place at a traditional Indian wedding.

Short and sweet
Short shorts and hot skirts are big for summer.
Replacing last year’s knee-length, fitted shorts are what designers call “boy shorts”. They’re super short, super fitted and show off your legs to perfection, as Katy Perry showed at the annual V Festival recently.

Also in stores are a range of structured mini skirts, which made a big comeback last fall. But instead of the ruffled minis we’re so tired of, the new look requires very structured mini skirts with high waists, with pockets, buttons or ties at the waist.

This mistake is social death: If thunder thighs is your middle name and you’re built like Rambha, this is one trend that really will not do you any favours. If anything, it will have potential partners running as fast as they can in the other direction.

Get it right: While Beyoncé showed that a little cellulite is okay, you still need to have a banging body to get this look. Pair boyshorts with a bikini top and layer the whole thing with a sheer kaftan or kurta to get the look right.

Hot skirts, on the other hand, are more forgiving. If you have a slim frame, the high waisted look with a thick tie gives you more of a flattering waist while petite types benefit from the instant elongation of the mini, while the naturally curvaceous will benefit from gathered tailoring that accentuates what you have with a nice flattering line. Team either bottom option with a loose blouse or even a short jacket or vest, with killer heels or platform wedges in bright tones to really accentuate those legs and you’re set to party.

Desi connection: Shantanu and Nikhil showed how the look can absolutely work for Indian bodies at the recently concluded LIFW.
Their lines are in stores now – at Adidas.

Lingerie loving
Innerwear as outerwear is everywhere. First showing up on the catwalks in Spring/Summer 2008, lingerie-inspired garments turned up as free-flowing pieces inspired by delicate, feminine styles.
Bra-dresses, rocket bras, bustiers and satin hot pants from the likes of Christian Dior, Jean-Paul Gaultier and even Karen Millen rock – they hold you in, push you out and celebrate your femininity.

If they’ve returned to Madonna-style corsetry now, you’ve got a few pop idols to thank for that. It was Beyoncé who really rocked the look. The Bootylicious bombshell set the trend at the MTV Europe Music Awards when she performed in in nothing but a skin-tight leotard, suspenders and stockings. Rob Marshall’s Oscar-nominated film, Nine, took the peekaboo trend further with a tempting array of burlesque ladies the likes of which Dita Von Teese has been channelling all her life.

This mistake is social death: Tapping into this trend doesn’t mean any old underwear will do. It’s got to be clean, lacy, preferably new and definitely not stained. Keep the Bridget Jones-style granny pants at the back of the closet. In fact, why do you even own a pair of those?

Get it right: But if you aren’t one of the ladies in the Telephone video, you can’t team the look with stay-ups or suspenders; there are a few rules to follow. First of all, the trend is most appropriate at night. For a daytime look, the vintage combination of nude and black works well, but try and pair one of the new bustiers with a lace jacket and pencil skirt for a sexy-but-covered look. Diamonds and gladiator sandals and you’re set.

Daring to bare is an extension of this trend, and if Valentino could show some skin, so can you. It’s not at all about flashing your Britney bits, but take a cue from BCBG, for instance, which showed a floaty goddess dress with bare shoulders, combining three key looks and yet staying quietly demure. Or Narcisco Rodriguez, whose bare-armed look is embraced by the new Mrs O.

Sex at work: If you think the lingerie look is not for the office, think again. You don’t need to work at Vogue to play wardrobe peekaboo at work, but you do need to bring it down a few notches. This means too much skin is definitely out. Instead, consider the bustier as a modern kind of vest, wearing it over a button-down shirt under a suit for a look that is original but totally professional. Team the lot with power heels and you could easily swing it.

The designer connection: Dior and Dolce and Gabbana embraced the slip dress, while Marc Jacobs showed you can wear your bra over your T-shirt. Dior also showed a conservative but daring version of the slip dress: teddy-inspired, but spliced in with lace and colourful prints. A lesson in getting the look without compromising on your values. We also love Michael Kors, whose architectural dresses take the incorporate the peekaboo trend for good girls: show but don’t show.

Get ahead of the festive trends by taking a cue from JJ Valaya, who Indianised the current emphasis on the waist with a range of belted saris.|

Valaya told journalists he was inspired by Alika, a courtesan from feudal Indian times. A highly trained female musician, she entertained and provided companionship for royalty and wealthy merchants, and the line he sent out truly would have had anyone hankering to provide the wearer with companionship.

His women looked like something out of a Raja Ravi Varma painting: regal, chic and thoroughly sophisticated. Sheer saris hinted at sexy midriffs, while clever draping emphasised sensual collar bones, toned arms and deep necklines.

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