We Tried the « Naked » Illusion Dress Celebrities Love

There’s a new « nude » dress in town – and instead of the sheer, shiny styles we’ve seen on red carpets for years, this season’s take is completely covered up.

In recent weeks, celebrities such as Bella Thorne, « Real Housewives of Atlanta » star Marlo Hampton and Kylie Jenner have been turning heads in trompe l’oeil looks projected with photorealistic impressions of the nude female form.

Designer Jean Paul Gaultier, who pioneered the near-bare look in the ’90s, recently teamed up with stylist Lotta Volkova on a cheeky collab that saw Jenner, Hampton and Tove Lo « nipple free. » in a whole new way.

Syndical Chamber’s Sergio Castaño Peña is also leading the trend, having outfitted Thorne, Iggy Azalea, Demi Lovato and Cardi B in his curve-enhancing designs.

Kylie Jenner, Marlo Hampton and Bella Thorne wearing nude dresses
Kylie Jenner, Marlo Hampton and Bella Thorne are among the stars who love the nearly naked look – so I decided to try it out for myself.
MovieMagic; marlohampton/Instagram

Of course, this flashing faux flesh fashion isn’t for the faint of heart – but I needed to know if someone non-famous could pull off one of these sexy styles in public, so I ordered a Shein version at 12 $ which bore a striking resemblance to a dress I had spotted on SZA, walked the streets of downtown New York and hoped for the best.

Essentially a skin-tight, slightly sleeker version of those « bikini bodysuit » tees you might find in beach-side gift shops, my cut-price dress certainly earned a few double takes. As I strutted past the long line in front of the Natural History Museum, several men, women, and children gave me questioning looks.

And a construction worker practically kicked himself checking the back of the garment – imprinted with an image of a shapely, naked booty apparently inspired by a Kardashian – as I crossed the street. Who needs a BBL when you can fake it with fashion?

It probably helped that the hidden breasts, crotch, and buttocks on the dress more or less matched my own pieces; on Shein’s website, a small shopper complained that the « design’s boobs were literally close. » [her] navel », and the « vagina touched [her] knees,” calling the effect “so embarrassing and not cute.”

Still, I was a bit surprised that more people didn’t stop and look at my optical illusion of an outfit; while a few people peeked into the subway, most simply had their faces buried in their phones. I guess it’s true what they say: New Yorkers have really seen it all.

Or maybe it’s just that the trompe l’oeil nude dress isn’t quite as shocking as its truly nude predecessor; I certainly felt more confident in mine than I would have in something truly pure.

Maybe I’ll even try it again for my next night out — after all, wearing a screen-printed dress with a perfect body is definitely easier than working out.

nude dress
It’s a wrap!
Gabriela Milian


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