Can we talk about how celebrity style has got much more... naked?

celebrity naked fashion trend
Why celebrity style has got much more nakedGetty Images

If, like us, you love celebrity fashion, then you will have noticed that things have got a lot more… naked recently. Since pandemic restrictions eased last year, there’s been an uptick in lively, energetic fashion – think: sequins, Barbiecore, mini hemlines, Y2K extravagance. But, in the last few months, it seems celebrities have cranked the dial up on all things see-through.

Florence Pugh, Rita Ora, Jenna Ortega, Dua Lipa, Hailey Bieber, Simone Ashley, Taylor Swift, Shakira, Kendall Jenner, Megan Fox, Lindsay Lohan, Sydney Sweeney, Emily Ratajkowski, Noah Cyrus, Kourtney Kardashian, Olivia Wilde – the list of celebrities recently wearing sheer looks goes on. On runways across the world, from Fendi to new-gen designers like Nensi Dojaka and brands like Miaou, fashion is also embracing the 'less is more' mantra.

Admittedly, naked dresses have been around for a while – as Miranda Priestly would say, they’re not exactly ‘ground-breaking’. What is new, though, is their prominence. A few years ago we’d usually see an A-lister wear a see-through dress once every few years, or at annual red carpet events, causing a scandal while doing so – recall Cher’s translucent Bob Mackie 1974 Met Gala dress for a moment, or Rihanna’s iconic Swarovski-encrusted 2014 CFDAs number when she asked a cheeky reporter, "do my tits bother you?". Now, we’re seeing this daring style levelled up multiple times a week. The question is, why?

It goes without saying that nearly-naked looks are both a great way to make headlines and have some fun with fashion. But on a deeper level, when we look at the most 'divisive' fashion trends over the years, they were often born out of periods of social unrest. Whether it was ditching the corset post-war, or embracing Mary Quant’s leg-baring mini skirt amid the women’s liberation movement of the 60s, what we wear reflects the world around us.

“I absolutely believe that [sheer fashion] is a reaction to the current turmoil people are living in,” explains Behavioural Psychologist and author of The Psychology of Fashion, Dr Carolyn Mair. Think back to those weeks and months following lockdown lifting – heels got high, sequins and feathers and opulent dresses were in as we revelled in a new-found freedom. “It’s not just a reaction to COVID, where people just wanted to be seen, it has transformed. This trend is connected to many political issues, including those in the States around abortion, the war in Ukraine, and also Brexit... It's a reaction to the control that people are having over our lives.”

On a personal level, our wardrobes are a vehicle for exercising autonomy, and sheer fashion takes things one step further. “You can buy a jumper with a bigger silhouette and then discard it, never wear it again,” adds Mair. “But this trend requires something else. This takes something as the wearer: the confidence, the empowerment, the sense of, ‘I'm making a statement about my own freedom here, and freedom over my body.’”

There's a reason these looks are described in the same sentence as phrases like 'free the nipple'. It all comes back to the fact that how we dress our bodies is deeply political. By stripping back the layers of clothing (both figuratively and literally), fashion is being used to push for more authenticity, putting the focus back on the wearer.

“There is a rebelliousness here, but it's about taking control," continues Mair. "It's showing confidence. It's empowering." The same thing can be said for post-break-up 'revenge dresses' – a much-loved celebrity-style phenomenon where looks are often more revealing than the typical red carpet attire. In this sense, the rise in see-through fashion can be viewed as a sign that individuals are dressing more for themselves than others.

What better way to show the world you'll wear what you want than by stepping out in a barely-there, bearing-all dress, regardless of what people might say?

"People have always said, 'Oh, you're too old for that, you're too young for that, you're too big for that too, short...'" explains Mair. "And at some point, you think, 'Well, I don't care.' And I think this is part of the body positivity movement, that people are saying, 'This is my body, and I'm proud of it.'"

Rihanna made headlines last year for gloriously tearing up the archaic 'maternity style rulebook' with her fearless pregnancy outfits, while Florence Pugh clapped back at body shamers following her viral sheer Valentino moment, taking the opportunity to celebrate her so-called 'flaws'. These important conversations were brought about through celebrities embracing the naked fashion trend. More and more too, it's a trend embraced by a range of bodies.

So, whether you're a fan of see-through looks or not, we can all agree on the importance of body autonomy and acceptance. And if celebrity style becoming bolder can be a vehicle for that, I'm all aboard.

Follow Natasha on Instagram.

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