Emily Ratajkowski has hopped on the cut-out clothing bandwagon, showcasing a daring cut-out look at the 2023 MTV Video Music Awards red carpet.
The ongoing trend began on the spring/summer 2022 runways, when everyone from high street fashion brands to high-end luxury labels decided skin-baring garments were the next big thing.
Since then, it has shown no signs of slowing down. Instead, cut-outs have gotten even bigger and more extreme – with celebrities like Rita Ora and Zendaya taking them to new heights in some of their most recent looks.
Last night Ratajkowski put her own spin on the cut-out craze, baring her impressive abs in an emerald green gown with wrap-around halter neck straps and a quirky orange patterned skirt, featuring illustrations of women diving.
To add to the boldness of the handkerchief dress, by Jean-Paul Gaultier, the fabric was semi-sheer offering a hint of skin underneath.
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Also taking the cut-out trend to new levels is Rita Ora, who recently stunned the audience at Venice's amfAR gala with her structural white gown by Stéphane Rolland Fall 2023 Haute Couture collection.
The dress featured a dramatic asymmetrical cut-out that revealed most of her midriff and her right hip.
Meanwhile, Zendaya celebrated her 27th birthday with a series of high-fashion looks shared to her Instagram account. The Euphoria star wore a floral print blouse with a cut-out front by Collina Strada that bared her torso, with a delicate silver bra to cover her nipples.
Zendaya is no stranger to bold cut-out looks. In 2021, she wore a strapless yellow gown by Valentino that exposed her stomach to the Oscars, and in February this year, she donned a black, pink and teal gown with a similar cut-out by Giorgio Armani while presenting at the 2023 SAG Awards.
Numerous other celebrities are also fans of the extreme cut-out trend. Last year, Kendall Jenner attended her friend Lauren Perez’s wedding in a risqué dress featuring large cut-outs throughout the torso, baring her chest and midriff.
Lack of inclusivity?
But while the trend has gained popularity and praise for its sexy silhouettes, some have criticised it for not being inclusive of diverse body types.
The trend's appearance on runways last year also came as plus-size representation during fashion week saw a decrease since 2020, with data from Vogue Business showing that more than 95% of looks across 219 shows were worn by models in US sizes zero to four (approximately UK sizes four to eight).
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Megan Watkins, head stylist at SilkFred, says: "The cut-out trend is not for everyone and the dresses we see on top celebrities are not for everyday. Most of the celebs we see in cut-out dresses probably have personal trainers, a dietitian and don’t at all represent regular women."
However, she still believes that women with different body sizes can partake in the trend if they choose their garments carefully. "Cut-outs can be for various different body types. Like most fashion, it's all about [comfort] and confidence. If you feel comfortable and confident to show off some skin, then by all means, do it! Women shouldn’t have restrictions when it comes to fashion, and this applies to the cut-out trend too."
When a trend goes too far
Still, some fashion experts think the cut-out trend has been taken to excessive, new heights. Stefaniya Veresovaya, stylist and founder of fashion brand HEYMIMISISTERS, says: "While cut-outs used to be small peeks of skin, many designers are now featuring large, dramatic cut-outs that bare most of the torso and sides.
"Fashion is about creativity and expression, but the avant-garde nature of these revealing cut-outs crosses a line for many – making the wearer look more naked than fashion-forward."
She adds that while cut-outs can add a "tasteful accent" to women’s outfits, extreme cut-outs are unappealing for those who prefer to look "stylish yet modest".
As more fast fashion brands produce cut-out garments, there are concerns that the fragile nature of such clothing could be environmentally damaging, as people are more likely to wear them just a handful of times.
Bharati Manchanda, designer and founder of sustainable fashion brand Embellished Truth, explains that clothing that comes from fast fashion retailers producing hundreds of new styles a week are usually made with fabrics that cannot break down easily.
"They use a lot of man-made fabrics due to the need to keep costs down and flexibility of material, using polyester which is petroleum-based, with elastane, which is also a synthetic – thus causing more pollution to the environment, microplastics in the oceans and [clothes that are] unable to degrade in landfill," she says.
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"If you look at resale sites, like Vinted, eBay, and Depop, they are filled with these types of dresses and a lot of them are new with tags because they are already unwearable, only fitting certain body types. I think there can be a wow factor to some of the styles, but the practicality of wearing them even for a few hours isn’t very comfortable."
Manchanda recommends thinking about whether a piece of clothing can be worn more than a few times before committing to purchasing it, in order to ensure customers get the most out of their clothes.
"Try listing at least five to 10 places where you can wear any item, of course you want to wear it more but if it is just for a night out then it's not money well spent. Also avoid fast fashion sites where these trends are plentiful, you get so much more joy from a well loved piece of clothing that you know is ethically-made and will last for years."