Shoulders are everywhere this year, as they were last summer, and the cold-shoulder look seems set to stay. The Bardot neckline is one iteration of this cold-shoulder look. This neckline is one that comes down over both shoulders to bare the décolletage and the tops of the shoulders. Celebrities, stars and high street fashionistas are all wearing this look. Now, even Kate Middleton has worn an off the shoulder dress. Has this trend yet reached its peak? That remains to be seen.


The off the shoulder look has been popular periodically since the 1950s. This is a trend that just does not want to give up the ghost. Sported by many different stars in the 1950s and 1960s. White, black and red versions of this shape were worn with poodle skirts or cigarette pants like those worn by Audrey Hepburn. The look was popularised by several actresses of the time, in particular the French actress Brigitte Bardot, who of course gave her name to this style of top, though she was only one of many that led to the popularity of this trend. 


In the 1960s, this look evolved with a looser, more hippie vibe. Tops and dresses with an off the shoulder neckline were still popular but the look had changed a little. Now, there was a proliferation of gypsy style tops and peasant tops that continued to be a popular style right through the later 1960s and 1970s. These began to fade away towards the beginning of the 1980s.


Strange new fashion trends in the 1980s led to new wave style off the shoulder tops – brightly coloured, loose, slouch tops, slashed and ripped to show off clavicles and the straps of brightly coloured bras. The flower power associations were left languishing in the age of greed and consumerism.


The 1990s saw a resurgence of flower power, with neo-hippie styles which embraced the looser Bardot top styles of the late 1960s and 1970s. 


In this century, we have seen a gradual return to the origins of the style. Now, we are buying Bardot tops that harken back to their late 50s early 60s heyday, with just a few contemporary additions and twists. Though there are Bardot tops on the market that reflect all the various iterations of this off the shoulder look. There is less tribalism associated with the look than there was in the latter half of the 20th Century – now this is a fashion choice more about getting a certain, flattering look for the summer than it is about identifying with a certain crowd.