Why the Off-the-Shoulder Shirt Trend Needs to Die

We can't take it anymore.

If you've been to a store that sells women's clothing lately—chains like Club Monaco, J. Crew, and Zara are all offenders, but so are department stores, boutiques, and really, everywhere—you've probably noticed the many, many racks of shirts and dresses and jumpsuits that are either off-the-shoulder or one-shoulder monstrosities.

Yes, I said it: MONSTROSITIES.

I can't even tell you how many times in the last few weeks I've wandered into one of these stores, ready to give them my hard-earned money, and spotted something on a rack that appears to be cute from a distance, but, upon closer inspection, I realize that the shirt or dress or jumpsuit is lacking fabric in the shoulder department. I am then forced to put it back in disgust.

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You see, I am a woman. A woman with breasts. And this I say completely objectively: I am a woman with large breasts. 34DD, to be exact. I am a woman who needs to wear a bra or else things start to get uncomfortable, and I am a woman for whom it took LITERAL DECADES to find a bra that held up my breasts but didn't simultaneously ride up my breasts, and also didn't fall off my shoulders, and also didn't cut into my shoulders, and wasn't itchy or nipple-exposing—and it turns out the only bra that really works for me is a racerback bra.

And you know what kind of bras do not work for me under any circumstances? In fact, I would characterize them as absolute DEATH for someone, like myself, who is blessed/cursed with an ample bosom? STRAPLESS BRAS. They either don’t hold things up well—they tend to move around a lot—or they’re so tight that I’m left with bright red welts all over. Neither is comfortable.


I mean, it's almost impossible to buy a goddamn shirt right now without it exposing your shoulders.

Sure, maybe if you're an A or B cup you can find a strapless bra that actually holds up your breasts and doesn't fall down or otherwise make you want to die, but they have never not been instruments of torture for me.

Guess what kind of bra you have to wear with an off-the-shoulder top? That's right: a strapless bra. Or, you could just not wear a bra at all. Perhaps for my less-well-endowed sisters, this is, in fact, a fine choice, but for me, as referenced above, wearing a bra is actually an issue of physical comfort in addition to just looking better.

I suppose you could wear a regular bra with an off-the-shoulder top, but that seems like a look, and I'm not young or fashionable enough to go for a look like that. So this basically leaves me unable to participate in this suddenly ubiquitous trend, which honestly I would not even be interested in participating in if it wasn't, like, everywhere.

Actress Emily Ratajkowski is yet another off-the-shoulder top offender.

I mean, it's almost impossible to buy a goddamn shirt right now without it exposing your shoulders. Cold-shoulder tops (the ones where just the tops of your shoulders are exposed) are a bit better because the way most of them are constructed, you can get away with wearing a regular bra. Still, they're ugly. I bought one a few months ago, in a momentary lapse of good judgment, and I never wear it.

And you know what? I don't think I'm the only one who feels this way, judging by the number of these shirts and dresses and jumpsuits that seem to be going unsold.

Maybe the clearance rack will turn out to be our best revenge.

Doree Shafrir is a senior writer for BuzzFeed News and the author of the novel STARTUP. A version of this piece originally appeared in her newsletter.


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* Minor edits have been made by the editors.

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