I've Had About Enough With This 'Cold-Shoulder' Top Trend

by Rachael Pavlik
Originally Published: 
A three-part collage of three women in different outfits and they are wearing some version of the 'C...

Way back in the year two-thousand-something B.C. (before children) I cared quite a bit about fashion. Then my little miracles came along, and slowly everything I owned was covered in boogers and Nutella. Since I was a human napkin for so many years, I didn’t buy fashionable things for myself. What was the point? My daily look became “Wow, She’s Clearly Given Up.”

Well, no more! Now that my kids are older and and don’t throw up on me nearly as much, I’ve decided it’s safe to shop again. It’s me time, bitches! This is happening. I’m now aiming for “Wow, She’s Not Wearing Yoga Pants, For Once.” Join me on my journey back to me, won’t you?

I decided to just start with adding a few trendy pieces to round out my sad wardrobe. One trend in particular caught my eye. Do a quick Google search or browse any store and you’ll soon find, like I did, that spring and summer are all about the shoulders.

@dillards / Instagram

Do you have shoulders? Awesome. If you don’t, I’m sorry to say you’re basically fucked fashion-wise. The rest of you, let me ask this: Are your shoulders warm? OMG. NO. They need to be cold! Cold shoulders! So hot right now! I know, it’s confusing.

The cold shoulder is that off-the-shoulder or cut-out-just-at-the-shoulder-style blouse that is everywhere. Every. Where. The “cold shoulder” is also my usual marital conflict bitch-move, but that’s a whole other post. Right now, I’m talking about fashion. I’m talking shoulders!

The off-the-shoulder trend has been around forever, but for some reason, it really reemerged last year with a vengeance. It’s like someone somewhere issued a statement: IT IS HEREBY DECREED THOU SHALT NOT COVER THY SHOULDERS. ALL SHOULDERS WILL BE COLD, BARED, AND FURTHERMORE, IN ADDITION, ALL CRUSTS SHALL BE CAULIFLOWER. WTF.

It’s online. It’s in every store. I saw friends wearing the trend in tops and dresses. I saw Beyoncé beat the shit out of a car with a bat while bare-shouldered. You can’t escape it. My warm, covered shoulders brought me so much shame, y’all. I, too, needed cold shoulders! And fast.

Being the sheep that I am, I bought several off-the-shoulder looks immediately, and by immediately, I mean as soon as they went on sale. I loved them. There’s a lot to love: It’s romantic and sexy in a pirate wench sort of way, and I’m quite fond of my shoulders and clavicle because they are the only parts of my body with no cellulite — yet. Adding to the appeal, I’m not particularly fond of my upper-arm situation, and luckily many of these off-the-shoulder tops have generous, flowy sleeves. Yay for sleeves! My bingo wings have missed you. Never leave me, sleeves.

Rachael Pavlik

While I dig the romantic, bare-shoulder vibe, there are drawbacks. Most of these tops require a strapless bra. Strapless bras are not my friend. I’m stacked. I have what equates to two squirmy newborns on my chest. That means most of my bras are heavy-duty workhorses with straps equal in width to what you might find on a beige BabyBjörn. That’s what it takes to hoist up the triple D twins.

So maybe I was blinded by my love of dumb trends, but the very first time I wore the top, I found myself adjusting the straps of my regular bra just enough to hide them, which means by the end of the night my tits ended up somewhere near my belly button. Sexy!

There is also the issue of these tops never staying in place any time you move your arms. Say you’re doing the wave at your niece’s graduation ceremony, or reaching up on a top shelf to grab the good snacks you regularly hide from your kids — wearing these off-the-shoulder tops while raising both arms means it will immediately slide up, exposing your jiggly bits while simultaneously strangling you around your neck. Congratulations, you’re dead. Your top killed you and your niece Brynlee is humiliated by your dead, old lady stomach.

Or worse, your kids now know where the snacks were! At minimum, you’ll be pulling it down all day and night until you give up, and the shoulder elastic still ends up somewhere around your neck. You’ll look like my dog wearing his cone of shame after getting his balls snipped. Fashion!

There’s also the style with just cutouts at the shoulder and the little spaghetti strap kind with sleeves so far down it looks like you’re about to earn some beads at Mardi Gras, the hard way. I can wear a bra with the style that has cutouts, if my bra behaves, but I’m not so sure about these random shoulder peekaboos. I could just take a pair of scissors to my tees and get the same look. Boom! Cold shoulders!

Besides, some of those shirts look like maybe a giant bird of prey swooped down, tried to carry you off, but your shirt tore and he just flew away, confused, clutching your shoulder pads in his talons.

I don’t know, y’all. I’m just trying to look cool. Has the cold-shoulder look jumped the shark? Will we be wearing shoulder-less sweaters come fall and winter when my cold shoulders will actually, really be cold? Will we wear these sweaters with cutout jackets over them?

Let me know when bleach-stained pajama tops come into vogue, because I am rocking the shit out of that right now.

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