A brief history of the off-the-shoulder trend (and why you’ll want to wear it all summer)

off the shoulder trend lily rose depp
Photography courtesy of Chanel

Summer has always been the season of the It: the It song, the It hangout and of course, the It item that everyone (including you) is obsessed with. Take the crop top: If you weren’t wearing one last summer, you were basically fashion road kill. This summer it’s all about the off-the-shoulder look. From pretty tops with voluminous, ruffled sleeves (a fave of Olivia Palermo) to glam gowns, like the ones Lily-Rose Depp and Julia Roberts recently wore to the Cannes Film Festival, it seems exposed shoulders are the latest (and chicest) way to show some skin. And unlike abs, shoulders always look good. So yes, you can skip a cardio class or two—simply dab an illuminating body lotion on those sexy clavicles, and you’re prepped to wear this summer’s hottest trend.

The spring 2016 runways may have been filled with shoulder-baring ensembles (Tibi’s ethereal version is this season’s take on the classic white shirt) but this trend has been on-and-off the scene since the mid 1800s. Couturier Charles Frederick Worth (a.k.a. the OG of Haute Couture) designed elaborate dresses, many of which featured bodices with off-the-shoulder sleeves. Brigitte Bardot put her own sexy spin on this look during the 1960s, wearing off-the-shoulder tops with everything from midi skirts to pants. Her signature smoldering-yet-effortless French Riviera style is still emulated today on the runway, the red carpet and even the sidewalk. Here’s to democratized jet set style.

Whether you channel Katy Perry with a statement-making gown or Kerry Washington in a floaty LBD, an off-the-shoulder look is this season’s cool girl calling card. Scroll through our gallery of shoulder-baring ensembles below.

More Style