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Emma Chamberlin, Katy Perry and the Rising ‘No Shirt’ Fashion Trend Among Youth

Emma Chamberlain, a YouTube personality renowned for her influential role in minimalistic fashion during the mid-2010s, introduced a novel take on “business casual” at Jean Paul Gaultier’s Haute Couture Fall 2024 show on June 26. Chamberlain, along with pop icons such as Katy Perry, has elevated minimalism through the new “no shirt” fashion trend.

Chamberlain showcased a classic ensemble featuring straight black trousers coupled with a stiff, white button-down shirt. Upon closer inspection, it became clear that she was not actually wearing the shirt in the traditional sense; it was attached to her body by two strings tied at the back.

Similarly, at the Balenciaga Fall 2024 couture show in Paris, Perry made a bold statement on the red carpet. She appeared wearing only black ripped tights and a long fur coat, capturing the attention of many.

Whether the look is loved or detested, it’s undeniable that young people are embracing this new trend. Factors such as body positivity movements, social media, and a rebellion against traditional fashion norms have fueled this shift towards “more liberated and inclusive standards of beauty,” according to Carolyn Mair, a cognitive psychologist, fashion business consultant, and author of “The Psychology of Fashion.”

The “no shirt” trend takes minimalism a step further, surpassing classic crop-tops or bra-tops, and venturing into more body-baring styles like Perry’s. Chamberlain described her look on Jean Paul Gaultier’s official TikTok page, saying, “it’s deconstructed, it’s taking the most simple, classic silhouette and turning it on its head, and there’s nothing I love more than that.”

Fashion historian and author Brian Centrone suggests that the “no shirt” look also mirrors broader social and political discussions concerning women’s rights. Exposing the breasts has “always been seen as taboo and forbidden,” he noted. “One of the ways in which women can push back against that is to show how they can be in control of their own bodies. It’s an amazing thing that young women are able to sort of stand up and say, ‘This is me. I own myself.’ And that’s what fashion can do for us.”

First, it was the “no pants” era, and now going topless has become the leading trend. “Fashion is just expressing what’s going on broadly in culture,” noted Christina Binkley, a longtime business of culture journalist. “We’re in a rule-breaking era.” She added that these styles, which might seem shocking to some, are no more revealing than typical bathing suits and challenge arbitrary social norms. Centrone remarked that these bold trends are likely here to stay.

“I think women will always move towards trends that emphasize the sexualized nature of their bodies and the ownership that they should be able to have over their body as men do,” he projected. Like the no-pants era, the topless trend is not solely about being revealing; it’s about distinct changes that resonate with young individuals who wish to deviate from conventional norms.

Mair noted that the embrace of bold, unconventional trends illustrates a psychological desire to stand out, explore new aspects of identity, and signify group affiliation or personal values. Young people gravitate towards these styles as a form of self-expression, especially when they feel unheard or unrecognized. Fashion, often dismissed as frivolous, plays a fundamental role in expressing political, social, and even religious identity within societies.

Mair also explained that the rapid turnover in fashion cycles has allowed young people to adopt more adventurous looks, highlighting a cultural movement that celebrates personal identities and self-empowerment. “The excitement also stems from the novelty and boldness of these trends,” she said, “which offer a way to stand out and assert individuality in a rapidly changing social landscape where, currently, anything goes.”