The Rule of a Bare Shoulder

girl wearing a top with a bare shoulder There’s a particular look that has been popular for decades in varied forms and was perhaps made most-imitated by Jennifer Beals in “Flashdance” back in the 1980s. That off-the-shoulder, wide-necked top look. It’s sexy without being too overdone, and can be a look that’s both dressed up and dressed down, depending on the specifics of the garment in question. And yet, I am asked often about this look by women who feel that they can’t get it “quite right”.

So, here are some guidelines to help you make sure you do it in the most flattering and situationally-appropriate way:

First of all, the great thing about the bare-shoulder look is that it can work for a lot of women of varying body types. Whether you’re thin, heavy, short or tall, you can wear an off-the-shoulder look and usually feel good about it. It’s a look that can be adapted easily because while a little provocative, you don’t have to show off the kind of skin that can easily look trashy (i.e. excessive cleavage, pelvic bones, etc.).

Yet you should remember that the bare shoulder look is exclusively a non-professional look. There are no situations in a business setting where having a bare shoulder exposed is appropriate. You can take the look from day to night, but keep it out of the office.

Here are some ideas for a casual one-shoulder look: Wide necked sweatshirts or jersey blouses (even sweatshirts with the neckhole cut out to make it wider) paired with jeans or casual pants and shorts are great looks for springtime on the beach or in the park. For this situation, wear the hair down and styled casually or maybe in a loose ponytail.

To dress the look up, choose wide-necked tops in shinier fabrics and/or simple, deep colors, and pair the top with a simple updo and some eye-catching jewelry. Alternately, you can opt for a more ornate hairstyle and simple jewelry. Just remember to pick ONE focus for the look, to keep you from appearing confused. If the jewelry is bold, the hair should be simple and the fabric subdued. If the fabric is flashy and eye-catching, then the jewelry and hair shouldn’t draw attention away from it.

Pick the formula that’s best for your taste and for the occasion and watch all eyes turn to you.