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Styling anarchy is afoot.
There was a time, not long ago, when clothes were used for their intended purposes. Underwear laid beneath trousers. Brassieres regularly remained unseen. Pants were considered a key component of getting dressed and shoes were understood to be a necessity when leaving the house. Then came 2023 — the year fashion got freaky.
It all started with the movement to abandon pants. At the tail-end of 2022, an industry-dominating fad was percolating, with It girls like Kendall Jenner and Bella Hadid traipsing about sans trousers. By the time 2023 rolled around, the no-pants trend was everywhere, from TikTok feeds to high-fashion runways.
At Miu Miu’s Fall 2023 show, for instance, models walked confidently without pants, doubling down on the absurdity of bare-leggedness with bedazzled underwear. Suddenly, any regular outfit could be an elevated look once the bottoms were taken away.
Emma Corrin went pantless at the Venice Film Festival. Hailey Bieber, Taylor Swift, and other street-style regulars felt the breeze. And in September, Jodie Turner-Smith took it to couture heights by trading cheeky shorts for a designer thong by Viktor & Rolf.
While celebs and plebians alike took their bare-legged looks for a spin, another underwear-as-outerwear style emerged: the intentionally exposed bra. In spring of this year, as the weather was warming and a new season was ripe with fresh fashion possibilities, a slew of stars began sporting their ‘fits with bras on full display. From Scarlett Johansson at Cannes to Zoë Kravitz at a star-studded Tiffany & Co event, the visible bra was quickly understood to be a fashion risk worth taking.
Exposing one’s brassiere is a natural evolution of the other surrealist lingerie statements to come from the past 12 months. Just ask Hunter Schafer, who famously wore not a bandeau, not a bandana, but an itty bitty feather as a top to the 2023 Oscars after party. The look, in all its single-plume sensationalism, quickly went viral, laying the groundwork for a changing of the undergarment tides.
Not only were traditional delicates reinvented, but on some 2023 runways, everyday objects were transformed into risqué going-out garb, including rose petal pasties at Puppets and Puppets and banana-inspired separates at Area.
Throughout the year, an air of style irreverence emerged, pushing back on dressing dogmas and ushering in controversial clothing choices. Maligned as it may be, the skirts-over-pants look took off in high-fashion spaces, spotted everywhere from Shakira appearances to 2023 runways.
In a hazardous turn of events, a gaggle of famous men simply stopped wearing shoes for a time. Thanks to culprits like Jacob Elordi and Shawn Mendes, it became somewhat common to see a male A-lister (or friend of) step out without his chaussures. Perhaps the most confusing micro-trend, but important to note nonetheless.
As the weather cooled down, the outfit oddities have not stopped. Just this week, Justin Bieber was photographed refusing to use the arm-loop of his sweater. Bieber is known for his laissez-faire street style antics, but this visual has been designer-approved. Take the recent runways of COS, Fendi and Proenza Schouler, which all showed off nifty new methods to wear sweaters — other than, you know, the normal way.
When looking at the trends that emerged this past year, it’s clear the taste for counter-intuitive ensembles is stronger than ever. Belly button cutouts seem uncomfortable but popular. See-through dresses are an easy way to defy the purpose of putting on clothes. Bum cleavage, anyone?
It’s impossible to ignore the context in which these intentional fashion faux-pas have occurred. Amid soaring costs of living and an increasingly upsetting news cycle, what better time than now to reject the constraints of appropriate attire? It may indicate sheer exhaustion (why bother putting your arm through the sweater sleeve?). It could be taken as a stroke of genius (even the smallest feather can be an avant-garde statement).
Or, maybe it’s an outward expression of being easier on ourselves. Forgot your pants? That’s ok! Threw on the wrong bra? You’re now a visionary. Stepped out sans footwear? A tetanus shot may be in order, but you do you.
Alone, none of it makes sense. But together, it paints of pretty telling picture. We’ve all got a lot on our plates — perhaps we’ve progressed past the need for outfit malfunctions.