How to wear cut-outs: The skin-revealing trend daring us to celebrate our bodies


By Kelly Lim

How to wear cut-outs: The skin-revealing trend daring us to celebrate our bodies

Call it hole-y Swiss cheese style or lockdown liberation, the cut-out trend has taken over fashion. First popularised during the optical art boom of the ’60s, peekaboo fashion re-emerged for the pandemic era with subtle skin-baring slits on the AW20 runways of Versace, Bradon Maxwell, Dion Lee and Rokh. Then, it went a step further the following season to showcase the sensuous allure of skin––this time spotted artfully placed cut-outs at ruched hips, on the neckline and across the stomach.

But AW21 was when the repeating trend really took things for a turn. Designers brought deconstruction to a whole new level to cut up fall cover-ups with an unabashed boldness, bringing intricate gaps and unexpected necklines to all-baring keyholes––anywhere and everywhere––to highlight the parts of our bodies that were often hidden away. Adding a little something unexpected to everyday garments, these interpretations delivered a dose of body positivity in sexy, desirable ways that were versatile enough to appeal to even the most demure dresser.

Since then, the trend has exploded across social media and become a mainstay for celebrities like Dua Lipa, Bella Hadid and Kylie Jenner––most frequently spotted in knitted, second-skin apparel by cult cool-girl brands like Rui Zhou, Poster Girl and Noush who put their own spin on the slasher style.


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Tthe ’90s whale tail re-emerged via back cut-outs on pants and dresses, then visible under-boobs like Zendaya’s ab-flashing canary gown showed up on the Oscars red carpet. When vaccinations started happening, people embraced the cold shoulder to get their shots in stylish convenience. According to fashion search engine Lyst, interest in cut-outs are still growing. Pelvic variations (or ovary cut-outs as some have so precisely put) gained traction last month after Bella Hadid and Kim Kardashian were spotted out and about in hip-baring ensembles.

Why now? We spent the last year or so cocooned at home in oversized clothes and comfortable loungewear to protect our bodies after the pandemic first hit. And with countries gradually opening up, people are trying out the trend to break out of their lockdown skin and find their way back to the outside world. It’s a way to bare all without actually baring it all by tastefully flashing a bit of the bod via a low-effort, high-impact statement––a celebration of the body. And the best part about it for us here in hotter climates is that it’s the perfect way to let your body take a breather, especially with bulkier fabrics.

Below, we’ve selected eight stylish ways to help you get started by focusing on wardrobe staples you can invest in. Wear them with the same nonchalant confidence that Regina George paired with her (unintended) cut-out tank in Mean Girls. Iconic.

The comfort piece 

German influencer Xenia Adonts-founded Attire elevates this super-soft cardigan with armholes at the sleeves and a ’90s leaning cut. The slim-fitting piece comes in calming pastels and with elegant pearls for buttons, which makes it undeniably useful for our current WFH situation. Adding a stylish flair to the everyday, it’ll keep us happily cosy in air-conditioned rooms and looks fab with basics, whether it’s denim, tracksuits or knitted trousers. And keeping true to the brand’s ethos of transparency and eco-consciousness, this particular piece is crafted in 100 per cent GOTS-certified organic cotton alongside buttons made out of mother of pearl (a shell by-product that’s usually wasted). Layer it over a summer ensemble or go sans base layer for an ultra-feminine look.

Shop: Organic Cotton Cardigan in Yellow, Attire, €180 (approx. RM898)

The puffed blouse

A pink hemp dream| @marahoffman via Instagram

Whether you’ve been romanticising the simple life of #Cottagecore or dreaming about the Regencycore‘s regal debutantes, this balloon-sleeved top by New York designer Mara Hoffman will inject some of that much-needed escapism into your wardrobes. Though its dramatic sleeves are reason enough, the hemp-crafted powder pink top features an elegant upper back reveal by way of a cut-out to hit the ball out of the park. Opt for the full look with a matching high-waisted midi or dress it down with denim and pair with gold accessories.

The statement blazer



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