Taking the Plunge

On diving headfirst (loafers second) into accepting “sexy”

10.14.13

Menswear is reigning as top sartorial choice among fashion’s fairer sex as of late. Take that notion and dissect it for what it’s worth, but I’d argue that the lean towards masculinity is, in part, our wanting to divorce ourselves from the oversexed pop media coverage on musicians (do we even need to say their names anymore?) so consistently almost-naked that they’ve erased the mystery and allure that the female body used to hold.

Oddly enough we’re still fine with the nipple. Fashion cannot get enough of the nipple. (Say nipple again. Nipple.) But that canvas of skin between the left and right breast hasn’t exactly been celebrated recently as it tends to call to mind Illustrated covers of the Sports variety, VMAs gone awry and housewives of the most desperate kind. Our industry has covered itself back up by way of man clothes to differentiate from the body-con dressed women, our buttoned collars festooned with ties as a direct reply.

But this spring runway proved different.

My surprise was first met at Altuzarra, where a belly-deep V plunged between two panels of fringed navy leather. Cleavage exposed itself again at Jason Wu by way of a sleeveless tan blazer without any shirt underneath, and via the simple slice separating white at Proenza Schouler. Bare were the mid-chests at Rag and Bone, Marni, Louis Vuitton, Creatures of the Wind, Jil Sander and Chanel. It seemed that every show had at least one inverted open triangle of skin — even at Chloé where V-shaped flesh was covered with a layer of blue wide-eyelet.

In reviewing the spring collections, it’s apparent that the return to cleavage is undeniable. But what’s interesting is that where cleavage used to recall musicians at award shows in necklines so plunging they required a Brazilian wax, now the look is decidedly demure. Something that was once considered, for lack of better word, slutty is all of a sudden elegant, ladylike and fresh.

While writing about said shows in my collared shirt bought-not-borrowed from the boy’s department at J. Crew I suddenly felt buttoned up — both literally and figuratively. Had I become a sartorial prude? I looked down at my wool trousers, loafers and sweater tied around my waist (secured there because god forbid the people standing behind me on the subway know I have a pretty decent butt) and decided that yes, I had.

But don’t we preach man repelling? Outfitting ourselves in clothes that are cool, not sexy has become such a natural way of dressing. Take that notion and combine it with my earlier hypothesis that we’re rebutting celebrity driven overt-sexuality and it’s no surprise that we’ve created a void in our own wardrobes where bandage skirts and platformed stilettos used to be (at least for Friday nights).

Skin doesn’t have to be the enemy. This newfound celebration by way of a once eyebrow raising neckline has left me in an inspired state of dressing. Due to my ample chest I probably will not adopt the deep-V without the lending hand of Duct tape-a-la Christina Ricci in Now and Then, but it has reminded me that sexy can also be elegant and that while I may find myself donning menswear inspired clothes more often than not there’s no reason I can’t also own something that makes me feel — cue Shania — like a woman.

Who’s with me?

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