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Is This the Bra of Summer 2016?

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Boob straps (not to be confused with bra straps) are trending. You’ll find them gracing the flawless décolletage of a shirtless Emily Ratajkowski in Express’s latest campaign; the Hadid sisters, who, in true Hadid sister fashion, offset their bands with grungy, ‘90s-inspired regalia. Instagram is rife with the racy detail, thanks to the sly (and censor-proof) boost of sex appeal it gives an #OOTD. And then there’s Ashley Graham, who adorns her world famous chest with bondage-inspired lingerie so often that an illustrated portrait to accompany her essay for Lenny last week included the look.

Sunday is no time for pants. #EmilyRatajakowski

A photo posted by EXPRESS (@express) on Jul 31, 2016 at 6:50am PDT

I, while neither a supermodel or social media star, can fully understand the appeal of this craze. Unlike so many pieces that err on the sultrier side—like, say, a super short skirt or ab-baring crop top—this one doesn’t require a certain body type or out-of-the-ordinary levels of confidence to enjoy. The brilliance behind the design is that it reads slightly risky and dangerous without highlighting anything you might not want to flaunt. Even if the only straps showing frame your collarbone, there’s still something about those downward plunging straps that feel deliciously elicit. Sure, you can pair the silhouette with a super revealing top, too, but it’s more of an personal preference than a hard-and-fast rule. As one Mr. Macklemore might say, there’s layers to this ish, player. The trick is finding which one works for you.

“I like when it’s just slightly revealed,” muses our Senior Style Editor Ali Pew when I press for her take over a Slack conversation. “I’d balance it with something more relaxed, like a fluid dress or an oversized coat.” But if she did want to play up the piece’s inherent come hither-ness with a lower cut shirt? “Keep the rest of the look modest—and I’d steer clear of red and pink! Neutrals are just a safer bet.”

The fashion world has proven this true several times over. Both on the runway (perhaps, most notably at Versace, where Donatella has been proudly riding the boob-strap bandwagon since the early ‘90s) and street, the style always works best when it’s offset by something simpler. Imagine it subtly showing beneath a white T-shirt, perfectly matched to a sleek camisole, or lending edge to a blush satin slip. With a super simple dress, it’s especially striking in the same color, as it coyly turns up the heat on even the most average of silhouettes.

All this said, I get it: A bra that looks like something Christian Grey might gift Anastaia Steele is an intimidating sight at the lingerie store. But next time you find yourself passing it over en route to a rack of approachable, full-coverage nude push-ups, stop and consider LBDs and V-neck sweaters of your closet. Don’t those deserve a lift, too?

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