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Why a bodycon dress is for everyone

The dress in its 2021 avatar scores high on textures and plays on proportions

Gigi Hadid in a Versace dress. 
Gigi Hadid in a Versace dress.  (Courtesy Versace)

While anti-fit may have been one of the most defining trends over the past few seasons, it’s hard to overlook the deluge of bold bandage dresses staring at us on the runway, on racks and on the streets, even when the temperature is starting to drop.

After months of home workouts and sitting in track pants, it seems people want to show their toned bodies, be it in a sheer, naked slip or a floor-length, figure-skimming gown. Small wonder then that several brands are offering their interpretation of the bodycon. Whether it’s the West or closer home, the bodycon trend is back. Model Hailey Bieber cut a sleek silhouette in a figure-enhancing Saint Laurent dress at the Met Gala in September, singer Beyoncé was on the September issue of Harper’s Bazaar in a sequinned Gucci figure-hugging skirt. The recent Milan Fashion Week had the likes of Versace, Cavalli and Dolce & Gabbana showcasing their versions of a bodycon. Think safety pin accents on tight skirts (Versace recreated actor Elizabeth Hurley’s iconic safety pin dress in their recently showcased SS 22 outing), shine-on bodysuits and latex dresses.

Also read: The 2021 party dress code is shine but make it brighter

Back home, actor Janhvi Kapoor was seen in a photoshoot last month in a black, sparkly Monisha Jaising gown with a thigh-high slit, while actor Sonakshi Sinha picked a fitted LBD with power shoulders and faux patent-leather appliqué by Sameer Madan.

The new bodycon is, however, a far cry from the 1980s and 1990s bandage dressing movement catalysed by brands such as Hervé Léger. The 2021 format of the fitted look scores high on textures and can be seen across body types—it’s often realised in glistening faux leather or liquid vinyl or cut across the pelvage, exposing the hip bone, or taking the form of a bralette teamed with a Y2K style micro mini.

Eshaa Amiin, who recently styled actor Chitrangda Singh in a bodycon dress, sees it as a key party trend that is being interpreted in an effortless and relaxed way. “People are bored of comfort chic as it has been a year and a half of relaxed wear and now people want to show a bit of skin,” she says. “Plus, some people have utilised the lockdown to take really good care of themselves and worked out extensively within the comfort of homes. Hence I sense a collective push to stand out on the style radar.”

Stylist Sheefa Gilani agrees. “For several months, we have been living in our loungewear staples and it’s finally time to step out of our comfort zones. Is it a happy thing? I don’t know but I am definitely loving that 2021 versions are easy to slip into and probably no-brainers when taking them from day to night.”

Sheer magnitude

Designer Anjali Patel Mehta of the label Verandah observes that sheer looks, those that feel like a second skin rather than traditional bodycon, are gaining popularity. “Overall, it seems they are back this season, not à la Hervé Léger but in an approachable avatar,” says Mehta, who believes more people now want to dress according to how they feel emotionally.

Designer Aniket Satam sees fitted silhouettes and revealing outfits in exuberant, vibrant hues, in-your-face glitter, making an impact. “Think happy colours and materials like saturated neons and rainbow sequins. LBD has major competition with sequinned dresses,” says Satam. The designer says people are experimenting with party dressing. “They want to emit a bit of shock value, the idea of being ‘extra’.”

Amiin is all for this versatile trend as long as you keep your body type and vibe in mind. “If you are a safe dresser, work it in an easy way, like picking a dress in a cool colour like mint or monochrome. Alternatively, if you are on the heavier side, then embrace it in dark hues or go for statement-making panelled sleeves. A solid bodycon works with a pair of stockings and boots and one could layer it with a biker jacket. On the other hand, a beaded bodycon could look great with a pair of stilettos.” There’s something for everyone.

Manish Mishra is a Delhi-based journalist and digital creator.

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