Rihanna Is Bringing Off-The-Shoulder Back

I cooled my jets on off-the-shoulder garments in the spring of 2016 when I wrote a story entitled, “The Spark Is Gone: What Comes After The Off-The-Shoulder Shirt?” The spark was, indeed gone, snuffed out by a deluge of ubiquity that rendered off-the-shoulder not-so-special. I was bummed at first but I moved on to other necklines and haven’t given off-the-shoulder much thought since.


HOLY RIHANNA. She posted this Instagram two days ago and it was promptly re-grammed in a storm by various outlets including Teen Vogue, The Cut and the pleasure center of my brain. It marked the first time I’ve been fully seduced by an off-the-shoulder look in more than a year, and I weathered the romance with a mix of surprise and curiosity.

Curiosity turned into intrigue when, upon further research, I realized that Rihanna has been quietly bringing back the off-the-shoulder silhouette for the past five months. She started sneaking them in front of our collective eyeballs like peas in a kid’s spaghetti last spring with a button-down shirt pulled subtly down below her collarbones in May. Then she debuted an off-the-shoulder crop top in the “Wild Thoughts” music video released in June, just sheer enough that her trailblazing nipples successfully distracted us from her true goal: shepherding off-the-shoulder back into the zeitgeist. Well played, Rihanna. Well played.

She upped the ante in July with a pink off-the-shoulder princess dress guaranteed to make headlines. A sign, in hindsight, that our off-the-shoulder trend recovery training wheels were almost ready to be removed.

September was a full-fledged off-the-shoulder charm offensive. She repped the neckline at almost all of her public appearances. Not only were our training wheels gone, but she was barely holding onto the bike anymore. It was time for us to ride the two-wheeler of this trend comeback on our own.

RiRi administered one last push, though: the bright blue off-the-shoulder gown that finally awoke my off-the-shoulder consciousness, flipping the switch in my brain from rejection to reception.

You’re ready, she whispered into my ear as she tapped my helmet and let go of the bike seat. I pedaled straight into the back of my closet where I tucked away the few off-the-shoulder garments I couldn’t bear to part with in the great purge of 2016. I think I might wear one of them to a birthday party this weekend.

What about you? When it comes to this trend, are you in, are you out, or are you just busy looking at Rihanna?

Feature photo by Angel Manzano/WireImage.

Harling Ross

Harling is a writer and was most recently the Brand Director at Man Repeller.

More from Archive