February 26, 2014

Cut-outs are shaping up to be spring’s hottest fashion trend in Charlotte

Strategic peeks of skin are both sexy and ladylike

You don’t have to flip through a fashion magazine to see that dresses and tops with cut-outs that show that sexy little glimpses of skin are one of this year’s hottest fashion trends. Just look around at the next gala or special event you attend in Charlotte. It seems that at almost every party I cover for the Observer, there’s at least one person showing off the style.

Based on what we’ve seen around Charlotte, it looks like the trend will be here for a while.

“Cut-outs started gaining popularity on the 2013 spring/summer fashion runways,” says Sonya Barnes of Charlotte, CEO and founder of Harris & Barnes image consultants. “This season, labels including Akris, Burberry, Chloe and Carven are taking it to the next level.”

Actress Lupita Nyong’o looked stunning in a Calvin Klein Collection gown with cut-outs at the waist that she wore to the 2014 Critics’ Choice Awards. Model Daria Werbowy smolders on the February cover of Harper’s Bazaar in a Proenza Schouler dress with a cut-out that gives a peek of her sleek stomach. And actress Freida Pinto also flashed her abs in a spring look from Michael Kors from the front row of the designer’s recent show in New York.

Barnes says that wearing cut-outs takes a certain amount of confidence and attitude. “Fashion is about fun and self-expression, so give it a try,” she says.

But, she warned, you need to be fit and you have to make sure the fit is right. If you’re toned but it’s too tight, the danger of muffin top looms. Be sure to sit and view yourself from all sides before deciding if the look is right for you.

If you feel you can’t pull off a cut-out on your waist, stomach or back, Barnes suggests trying a top with small cut-outs at the shoulders or neckline.

‘Sweet and sassy’

The first person I saw on the Charlotte social scene sporting cut-outs was Lee Kennelly at a party at the end of August. She looked amazing in a floral print dress from Neiman Marcus with a high-low hemline and cut-outs on the side.

“I’ve never gotten so many compliments on a dress before, nor have I ever felt so good in a dress,” Kennelly said. “I love the contrast of sweet and sassy.”

A few weeks later at a fashion show fundraiser at Neiman Marcus for the Mint Museum, Mia Benoit stood out in a maxi dress from Tibi with a triangular cut-out on the back.

Since then, she’s purchased another cut-out dress, along with a shoulder cut-out blouse from Topshop in Nordstrom at South Park mall.

Benoit, who was Miss Illinois USA in 2007 and is founder of The Benoit Agency, a female-focused talent and personal development firm, says she’s fallen in love with the trend because it’s the perfect way to show a little skin while still being classy.

“I think it’s popular because it makes women feel very feminine and sexy,” says Benoit. “Each time I wear one of the cut-out dresses, I get stopped by strangers wanting to know where they can get one, too. Cut-outs are an easy way to instantly take a simple outfit from regular to fun and fabulous.”

At The Checkered Ball in January, Kendra Koloff, the daughter of former professional wrestler Nikita Koloff, looked youthful and elegant in a navy lace dress with cut-outs on the side.

Although the style suits the taut skin of the young, Barnes doesn’t feel it’s a trend that only works on a particular age group. “If you have the body and want to show off a part you’re proud of, rock it!”

Liz Hilliard didn’t just rock the look, she created an earthquake at her 60th birthday party in January in a Christopher Kane dress from Capitol with cut-outs on the side.

“I chose it because it is a celebration of joy, health and being happy in my own skin, which I am, plus it’s super cool to wear,” she said.

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