Last night, I overheard a woman with a lacy corset dress and mousse-scrunched curls tell her equally classy companion that "it costs a lot of money to look this cheap."
It's now 2 p.m. the day after, and I'm still reeling from the back-to-back sorta-mandatory parties I attended. Not because of the booze, the inadequate valet service, the bizarrely rhythmic spastic dancing by dudes in screen-printed dress shirts rolled to the elbow, or even the inevitable drama that ensues when a bunch of people are squeezed inside a dimly lit space with plenty of complimentary tequila shots and bad hip-hop.
It just really fucking depresses me when I see grown-ass women wearing tops as dresses. The topic may be beaten to death, but more skin doesn't necessarily mean that you look good—you know this. (Topping it all off with a pair of pleather lace-up booties isn't helping things, either.)
I first spotted this girl from afar at Party No. 1. Her outfit seemed simple and inoffensive enough: gray cotton-blend tunic top with some simple ruching and folding; Adrianno Goldschmeid-brand dark denim skinny jeans; some basic black heels. Then she turned around, and her outfit was transformed from somewhat blah to amazing—and completely unpretentious. The top she picked up on sale at Barney's Co-Op showed off her entire bare back, which has got to be one of the most attractive parts of the human body.
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Take, for instance, one of Kate Moss' most memorable outfits designed by Tom Ford for Gucci: a loose, long-sleeved, gold-colored tunic dress. Nothing else. No accessories, no embroidery, no fancy stuff, and the hemline hit just a little above her knees. But the number was completely backless, cutting deep and ending juuust above her bum.
Celebrities such as Jennifer Lopez and Mariah Carey have been seen in similar dresses, such as Dsquared's shiny gold showstopping finale from spring 2005. Back-season Gucci and Dsquared too pricey, not to mention difficult to find? Luckily, U.K.-based website ASOS.com, which features a number of imitation digs made famous by celebrities, offers a similar version of that backless minidress for $144.08—really not that bad, just watch out for the overseas shipping-and-handling fee.
And, as always, Forever 21 comes to the rescue with their affordable, disposable pieces. Their recent venture, Twelve By Twelve, is their attempt at competing with other cheapie chains like H&M and Zara. Each piece is slightly more mature, slightly more streamlined and, yes, slightly more expensive. But not by much: Twelve By Twelve clothing is about 30 percent higher than your usual Forever 21 stuff, but everything will still cost you less than $100. Twelve By Twelve has a slew of backless clothing items available, such as their gunmetal-gray "Diva Knit Minidress With Cowl Neck," an extreme look-alike to this girl's top here, for a totally reasonable $39. You can view and order all these pieces at forever21.com/twelve.
There aren't many rules when you go backless. Just keep everything else simple, pile your hair up, wear shoes with some height to them, and make sure you don't have any backne. You'll knock 'em dead.