Sunday 17 December 2017

Plunging Necklines: How low can you go?

Jennifer Lopez in the Versace dress that caused a stir. Photo: Getty Images
Jennifer Lopez in the Versace dress that caused a stir. Photo: Getty Images
Jennifer Aniston arrives at ELLE's 18th annual Women in Hollywood
George Clooney and girlfriend Stacy Keibler
Cheryl Cole in a plunging neckline at Cannes
Deirdre Reynolds

Deirdre Reynolds

Chris O'Dowd's girlfriend has sparked a new cleavage debate.

She was on the arm of cinema's latest unlikely heartthrob, but Dawn Porter managed to make sure that she didn't get squeezed out of the limelight.

Chris O'Dowd's girlfriend followed the tried-and-trusted method at the Bridesmaids premiere - she wore a killer dress that just happened to flash her cleavage proving that she knows just how low to go.

Dawn's in stylish company.

Gossip Girl's Blake Lively, gorgeous George's squeeze Stacy Keibler and Gwyneth Paltrow are just some of the stars taking the plunge.

It's over a decade since Jennifer Lopez made style history in that Versace dress at the 2000 Grammy Awards -- but now women are taking the plunge once more in extreme low-cut styles.

In the world of fashion, this season cleavage is the new black.

"Very low-cut necklines are all rage on the red carpet right now," says stylist Cathy O'Connor, "but designers like Tom Ford have been doing them for years.

"Personally, I love them. It's an incredibly sexy, sophisticated look -- if you can get away with it."

Foxy as ever at 42, Jennifer Aniston showed off the trend in a daringly low Kaufmanfranco number at the Elle Women in Hollywood event last month. And even squeaky-clean Disney starlet Demi Lovato, 19, displayed real fashion front in a Roland Mouret dress slashed to the waist at the 2011 Latin Grammy Awards.

As ever with such paparazzi-ready celebs though, it's not as easy as it looks.

And less is definitely more, warns Cathy: "It's a trend that looks fantastic on anyone up to a C cup -- but if you're any bigger than that, you could be veering into flasher territory.

"Irrespective of bust size though, you need to have very secure tape to keep your dress or jacket in place," she adds. "Celebrities like Jennifer Aniston look gorgeous in these dresses on the red carpet, but in reality, when you lean forward for the salt or pepper -- that's when you could become unstuck."

"And confidence is key -- if you have any body hang-ups, this is not the look for you."

From chicken fillets to fashion tape, the unforgiving trend is set to expose the secrets that every girl keeps close to her chest this party season -- even Stacy Keibler and Blake Lively flashed a hint of so-called 'tit tape' in their swooping designer ensembles on the red carpet recently.

But going 'braless' isn't necessarily the same as doing a Charlie Dimmock, explains lingerie expert Lorna Dempsey.

"Girls with a smaller bust can get away with fashion tape to hold their top in place," says Lorna of -- an online Irish lingerie store. "Generally though, Irish girls are a little bustier, so they still like the support of a bra.

"With a very low-cut neckline, the idea is to look braless without actually being braless -- and there are lots of products now available to help achieve this."

"One of our most popular items coming into the party season is Magic Body Fashion Freedom Form (€14.95) -- an adhesive tape that's used to cup and lift the boobs like the underwire of a bra."

Of course, more flesh on display only means more lady lumps to fret about.

Super-svelte Gwyneth Paltrow's famous macrobiotic diet and strict exercise regime was even more obvious than her boobage in a deep-V Elie Saab dress at the Bambi Media Awards in Germany earlier this month.

"I think the bum and thighs are still the big area of concern for women," says celebrity personal trainer Pat Henry of PatHenry "But as necklines drop, more women will be looking to ensure their bust doesn't too.

"There's no actual muscle in the bust, so women should focus on strengthening the pectoral muscles at the top of the bust and shoulders instead.

"At the gym, the pec deck, shoulder press and light dumbbells are all great for this," he advises.

"At home, try doing press-ups -- first with your hands wide, then close and very close.

"Once the area from the chin to the top of the chest is toned, it will help prevent the bust from sagging."

With designers Yves Saint Laurent, Balmain and Kanye West all showcasing plunging necklines as part of their Spring 2012 Collections at Paris Fashion Week recently, it's not just the boys who'll be boob-obsessed for the next while.

And as girls here get ready to show how low they can go, the beauty industry is going bust too.

"When I did my training in France, it was very common to include the bust as part of a facial," says Elaine Butler-Doolin of Bespoke Beauty, which has just moved to 95B Morehampton Road, Donnybrook.

"Here in Ireland, people are a bit more embarrassed about it. For women though, it's very important to look after the skin on the décolleté as it's quite thin and can age quickly.

"We have a firming Cetuem body wrap (€100 for an hour and half) which is proving amazingly popular in the run up to the party season," adds Celebrity Salon host Elaine.

"At home, always remember to bring your face cream down as far as your bust, applying in 'lifting' and 'cupping' movements," she advises.

"And just like with your make-up, you can help cheat your way to a more beautiful bust by shading between your cleavage and along the collar bone with bronzer or applying dry oil to give a sexy, glistening effect."


1 Wonderbra Ultimate Plunge Bra, €41

With necklines belly-button bound, Wonderbra has created an over-the-shoulder boulder holder to match — available from late November. Its special hand-shaped cups and clear centre give the brand’s famous ‘oomph’ without any of the telltale signs. As Eva Herzigova might say: Hello Boys

2 Mama Mio Boob Tube Bust & Neck Firmer, €34

For yummy mummies — or the child-free and fabulous, this bustfirming lotion is a favourite with Jessica Alba. A sort of Creme de la Mer for your cleavage, it contains anti-oxidants and omega oils to help stop boobs heading south.

Available from

3 Nippies Solids – Gold, Pewter and Silver, €24.50 for two pairs

With the big freeze on its way, nipple covers aren’t just an accessory – they’re a must. But now you can make a fashion statement while preserving your modesty in metallic butterflies, stars and crosses. X marks the spot for celebrity fans including Rihanna. Available from

4 Eve’s Bra, €29.95

If your cups runneth over, try the world’s first strapless, backless bra – available up to a D cup. Practice makes perfect with the sticky-back silk and silicon cups, but as it’s machine-washable and reusable, there’s plenty of time to perfect your cleavage before the Christmas party.

For stockists, call (01) 8348444

5 Magic Body Fashion Tape, €9.95

Less flatteringly known as ‘tit tape’, a wardrobe essential for girls — just ask Janet Jackson. Prevent your own wardrobe malfunction — and possibly arrest — by sticking your frock to your front with the double-sided tape. Comes with a travel case for emergencies.

Available from

Irish Independent

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