My Bittersweet Feeling About the “Off the Shoulder” Craze, Social Media & Personal Style  


AGES ago,  I discovered the allure of  off- the-shoulder tops as a tool to flatter my frail framed upper body.  It was nonchalant sensual (slightly-unexpected-but-not-totally-overt) at its absolute best.  Even better, narrow shoulders look wider and in consequence, the waist looks smaller.

 By ages ago, I mean the DARK ages long before social media even existed and became able to snuff out the freshness of any trend after just a few months. And long before personal style became mass marketable through the “shop my Instagram” of the social media stars.

Back then, tasteful off the shoulder options were so few and far between that finding and wearing one felt like a secret handshake between me and my personal style.

Not anymore.  Off-the-shoulder has become one of the most wide reaching trends of the decade, with an abundance of fashion forward choices ranging from Carmen Miranda-"esque" sleeve ruffles, to more romantic/boho styles, to variations known as the “cold shoulder” (bare skin between strap and sleeve) and many more.

Don't get me wrong, am thrilled with the wide range of styles available, but what once gave me a little thrill of exclusivity now feels like getting in line for lunch at the school cafeteria.

In spite of this, the overexposure has not squelched my passion for off-the-shoulder and the abundant choice made it easy to pick up a few comfortable-for-travelling-with 2-little-boys-yet-nice-enough-to-be stylish for my family vacation to Europe this summer.

I thought this “cold shoulder” romper in pretty pastel pink and crème lace details could be well suited for romantic summer afternoons exploring Cinque Terre's picturesque medieval villages with my husband.  And since I'm not a fan of elastic waistbands or seams, - a neutral colored wrap belt is one of my accessory essentials to cover seams, polish an outfit, and accentuate curves.

The shapeless boyfriend-shirt-dress trend takes on a deviation by integrating cold shoulders, and a tie-back cinch for a more feminine look.  To go even more feminine, ultra classic red heels and are perfect for July patriotism for either France or the US :-).  

This loose fitting white cotton off-the-shoulder tunic is a favorite for me with jeans, so to dress it up for a faux suede skirt I added a Pucci neck scarf looped through a leather belt.  The versatility of this belt paired with some imagination can become a key accessorizing tool to diversify your wardrobe.

What's next after such a wide reaching trend?

The fashionistas are saying bell sleeves could be just as big as off-the-shoulder.  What's funny, is that I was drawn to the orange dress at the Miami Fashion Revolution clothing swap event last April by what I thought was a  démodé charm (and because this shade of orange is hard to find).  As for the olive green top- it was birthday gift that I would not have chosen for myself because of the lack of shape at the waist (but that I solved with the right belt).  So, it is seems that for once (since having children) the fashion gods were determined that I follow the '70s revival fashion trend on time.   

Trends and the Age of Personal Style

Talking about trends, some claim we are in The Age of Personal Style; an era where individuals selectively take style cues based on their own personal taste, and no longer look to collective cues implemented by an overarching fad for inspiration.  While this may be true for an elite group of fashionistas, I'm not sure this phenomenon is general enough to consider it an "AGE."

I admit that I do strive to have my own personal style, that I have always been attracted to the particular and the colorful, and that I have always rejected the trends I don't like (ie: Frankenstein jeans, culottes, bobby socks with Valentino heels, etc...) And while I am sure many of you feel the same way, the fashion industry and corresponding supply chains function DO function through trends.  So, if you are looking to refresh your wardrobe you will inevitably find at least a few common themes in the stores.    And then there is social media...

Is social media helping us move towards an age of individual personal style or further feeding "fast fashion"?  

Social media has made sharing ideas and creativity easier than ever, with innovative fashion bloggers taking the lead on communicating the art of their personal styles through beautifully formatted images, either tagged with the brand names or direct links to purchase platforms.   As consumers increasingly look to these Instagram stars to shop for "looks" rather than specific articles, the question is whether this phenomenon is inspiring people to try and create their own personal style, or is it just further feeding "fast fashion" by facilitating on line purchasing and rapid trend proliferation?

I have some ideas about it, but I am very interested in hearing what you think about this- could you drop me a line in the comments?

And now back in Miami, I couldn’t resist adding a stereotypical Carmen Miranda-esque off-the-shoulder piece :-)  

P.S. Despite the images in the pictures of Cinque Terre- "romantic" was not the most accurate word to describe my afternoons pushing a stroller with 2 boys on it down cobblestone streets in 90 degree weather, or coaxing my husband to wait with whining kids for me to climb up a huge flight of stairs for a nice photo op.   For a hilarious story on what travel bloggers go through for images and more info on Cinque Terre check out The Wandering Red Head's (Cherene Saradar) article Epic Instagram Photo Fail