No offence to forearms, ankles or knees, but this summer’s most-displayed body parts are likely to be shoulders, as the British high street falls for the Gallic charms of a clavicle-bearing neckline named after Brigitte Bardot.
Bardots – less glamorously known as off-the-shoulder tops – are omnipresent on the high street. Topshop has 80 “Bardot” items on sale – design director Jacqui Markham thinks the design’s popularity ties in with fashion’s obsession with the 1970s – while a search for “Bardot” on ASOS gleans 397 results. At the rarefied end of the trend, Sienna Miller wore a shoulder-showing design by Balenciaga to Cannes, while Leandra Medine – of influential fashion blog Man Repeller – is a fan of Bardot designs by Rosie Assoulin and Alessandra Rich.
Undeniably, the Bardot is a neckline with pitfalls – starting with your armpits. In the main part, on the high street, the trend is aimed at those who are keen to flash flesh, so many styles show more back/torso/arm than you might want to in the office. The Bardot can also look downright awkward – as if someone has yanked down your top and your arms are now trapped. Or a bit fancy-dress, as though you are recreating Sandy’s makeover moment in Grease.
The right Bardot, however, can be easy to wear and flattering, showing off shoulders and collarbones while keeping upper arms covered – think of Grace Kelly, in Rear Window, her wide V-neck black top tucked in to full Dior New Look skirt. Close-cut Bardots such as this one from Warehouse are a brilliant foil for voluminous culottes or midi skirts. Looser, frillier styles are handy, too, bringing a touch of the Carmen Mirandas to your jeans. Add to this the fact that Bardots are excellent for doing shimmies and this is starting to sound like a lot more fun than last season’s infatuation with the polo neck.
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