Browsing: Fashion outfits

Looks were served (Picture: Rex/Getty/Splash)

Last night’s GQ Men of the Year Awards saw the likes of Gary Lineker, Jack Antonoff and Simone Rocha honoured for their work as tastemakers and changemakers in 2023.

Attendees set the style standard on the red carpet as well, with the fashion rulebook clearly thrown out of the window this party season.

Football stars Alex Scott, Leah Williamson and Chloe Kelly all wowed in daring sheer dresses at the star-studded event, showing they won’t be pigeonholed by stereotypes of masculinity among women in sport (as well as those surrounding the queer community).

Others also bared nips and hips alike, with many opting for bondage-inspired features like leather, chains and buckles: Normal People actor India Mullen’s leather bralette and skirt was offset with a bold metal neckpiece and zips, while Raye’s full-length PVC gown and Jodie Turner-Smith’s laced-up minidress seemed like clear nods to the world of BDSM.

India Mullen was giving Matrix realness (Picture: Dave Benett/Getty Images)

There was plenty of metallic hardware and leather on the GQ runway (Picture: Karwai Tang/WireImage)

The men were stepping out of their comfort zone too, from Ted Lasso’s Phil Dunster wearing leather trousers for the first time (and with a sheer top too) to Ncuti Gatwa pairing a dramatic floor-skimming black coat by Louis Gabriel Nouchi with a racy patent tie.

This air of punky, outlandish dressing (much of which wouldn’t look out of place in a sex dungeon or Matrix reboot) has been brewing for some time. Bebe Rexha’s dress, complete with bum cheek cut-outs and horse tail, and Doja Cat’s barely-there spiderweb look at this year’s VMAs spring to mind, and everyone from Nicole Kidman and Rihanna to Lupita Nyong’o and Em Rata have put their own spin on the concept.

Bebe Rexha went all out with bum cheek cut-outs earlier this year – and a tail, of course (Picture: John Nacion/WireImage)

Megan Watkins, Head Stylist at online fashion destination SilkFred, tells ‘Certainly, 2023 has been huge for “naked dressing” and also kink-inspired clothing. Once only seen in the Victoria Secret aisles, sheer dresses have been one of the biggest celeb trends this year, being seen on red carpets, runways and even everyday street style.’

One of the stars most commonly associated with fetishwear or “naked dressing” is Julia Fox, says Megan, and interestingly, the actress recently stated in an interview on BBC’s Woman’s Hour that she has actually stopped dressing for men and now styles herself for “the girls and the gays”.

‘For Julia, and perhaps the other women that have leaned into these trends, they find that embracing their sexuality through fashion is empowering and is actually, too overtly sexual to adhere to “the male gaze,”‘ Megan suggests.

‘Sometimes women avoid styles that they enjoy but seem like “too much” and aren’t confident enough to wear. However, taking a risk with clothing can often make a woman feel more confident as they have conquered their ideas of what they think society expects of them sartorially.’

Julia Fox plays by her own fashion rules (Picture: Rachpoot/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images)

According to Megan, the current craze for irreverent fashion is partly driven by celebrities’ desire to make headlines.

‘However, I don’t think these trends are all about grabbing attention,’ she says. ‘In the post-#metoo era, women are taking back control of their bodies and embracing this through fashion. Women have reached a level of sexual liberation, where we feel more free to talk about sex and also admit that we do actually like it too!’

And overt sartorial sexuality – either to turn heads or reclaim our sense of bodily autonomy – is a tool that’s been part of the zeitgeist for decades.

During the original era of punk, the movement relied heavily on sexualised imagery to shock and provoke discussion. Vivienne Westwood’s Sex Boutique on London’s King’s Road sold t-shirts with trompe-l’œil bare breasts or with openable zips at the nipples, while the subculture itself was typified by fishnets, studs, chokers and harnesses.

Vivienne Westwood pioneered outlandish fashions in the 1970s (Picture: Daily Mirror/Mirrorpix/Mirrorpix via Getty Images)

The current iteration of expression through fashion is undoubtedly more polished. Ever since Marc Jacobs took his version of grunge to fashion week for Perry Ellis’ SS93 collection, catwalks have been all about commodifying individuality and turning grassroots creativity into something marketable.

But there’s still merit in happy medium between the two things for the average person; it’s all about understanding what makes you feel most confident and choosing pieces that suit you.

Most of us can’t get away with channelling Siouxsie Sioux in all-over leather on the school run, or bringing out our inner dominatrix with a mesh body-stocking at the office – and that’s okay.

Salma Hayek absolutely rocking the trend at 57 (Picture: Alexander Tamargo/Getty Images)

And Rihanna in leather and mesh while pregnant – what’s your excuse? (Picture: Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic)

Megan recommends adding edge to an everyday wardrobe with a pair of faux leather trousers or leggings in place of a black trouser, or by layering sheer items (like a sheer top with a camisole underneath).

‘A lingerie-inspired slip dress can also be a staple piece paired with a t-shirt or shirt underneath and an oversized blazer on top,’ she adds. ‘And women can use accessories to lean into the trend, for example choker necklaces and chunky waist belts as a subtle nod towards fetishwear.’

As a general rule, if you don’t feel confident in what you have on, the whole ‘I don’t care’ vibe isn’t going to play. Plus, the look has to be for you, rather than to fit into what society expects of you.

Jean Paul Gaultier’s Haute Couture F/W runway can provide inspiration on adding edge to outfits (Picture: Estrop/Getty Images)

As can Ashi Studio”s use of sheer fabric and corsetry (Picture: Richard Bord/Getty Images)

Still feel like you need to stay inside the lines or lest ye be judged? It can be handy to remember the rebellious dressers who paved the way for the current laissez faire attitude. Whether it’s Prince’s genderless silhouettes, the way Madonna shapeshifts through clothing, or Aaliyah’s uniquely feminine take on baggy hip hop fashion, find your tradition-flouting style icon and follow their lead.

Whether it’s a flash of skin or a thigh-high boot is up to you, but starting with one thing you wouldn’t normally wear and working your way up (if you choose to) can help you push boundaries one step at time.

If Julia Fox can step out in pasties to go to the supermarket, what’s stopping you from taking a few baby steps on the wild side?

The only rule of this unrestrained and provocative trend to remember is that there are no rules: they’re just clothes, after all.

So decorate your outside with the way you feel inside, forget crap advice telling you to try to look younger, smaller and just like everyone else, and remember the words of Harry Winston: ‘People will stare. Make it worth their while.’

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