The Hot Cold Shoulder

If you’ve found yourself at a throwback shindig recently, you may have noticed that when DIY-ing ’80s-style tops, they’re most often worn open-necked and exposing one shoulder—accompanied by leggings and maybe a scrunchie. That’s all well and good for afterhours dress-up, but not of much use if you’re trying to go out in public and have people take you seriously.

But the general concept of exposing one’s shoulder feels new again these days, particularly if it’s a tad more sophisticated than a cut up sweatshirt. The breezy dress by Caroline Constas, above, is a good example. And what follows is a selection of five pieces that similarly skew more Rosie Assoulin and a lot less Carrie Diaries. They show the collarbone without screaming, “Hey! Hey, you! Look at my collarbone.” Because, after all, it pays to be polite.

1. Topshop Floral Print Bardot Dress: This color looks best with darker skin tones, but it’s attached to a silhouette that will work for those on both the shorter and the taller sides, as long as you make it past the (admittedly somewhat challenging) task of going braless or strapless. But from there on out, it’s all blue skies and bright fluro daisies.

2. Lisa Marie Fernandez Leigh Army Flounce Maillot: I type this with anxiety in the event that the only site to find half-off LMF suits will now sell out, but here goes nothin’… OK, go to this site—skip or watch the intro, the choice is yours—then scroll back to about page 45 of the e-commerce section. BAM. Suits on suits on ruffled, zippered one-piece suits on sale.

3. Torn By Ronny Kobo Striped Off The Shoulder Top: Bell sleeves balance out the crop on this, along with any bustiness on top (though it looks great on flatter ladies, too). This is a piece that prefers to be worn with high-rise jeans or wide-leg trousers, and is, at its core, just looking for a good time.

4. Claudie Pierlot Tahitienne Off-The-Shoulder Jersey Dress: Navy is the black of summer. And a short dress is easy to wear. Summer, especially in the city, is hard to dress for, so this one’s a no-brainer.

5. Tibi Satin Poplin Off-The-Shoulder Top: The most refined of the bunch, this one’s more blouse than festival top. Think culottes for your arms—which is really something worth trying.

—Claire Knebl

Photographed by Tom Newton. Consider decorating your shins too—five cool pairs of gladiator sandals.

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