Cold Shoulder

What is up with the cold shoulder trend in plus size clothing? Meagan Kerr wears Forever 21 Plus Open Shoulder Top

I’ve noticed a recurring trend in plus size fashion over the last five years and I think it’s time we had a talk about it. Cold shoulder is a trend that seems to be really polarising – you either love it (in which case congrats – there’s shitloads of it out there right now!) or you hate it. Despite the fact that I’m wearing a cold shoulder top in this post, which I purchased with my own money and am wearing willingly, I absolutely am not a fan of this trend. As you all know I don’t usually write about things I don’t like, but I wanted to share my feelings, and I’d love to know what you think about this cold shoulder malarkey.

There’s a couple of different kinds of cold shoulder styles – there is the cut out that I’m wearing here, or there’s the split sleeve (a split along the hemline from the shoulder) that is either sewn or tied at the bottom of the sleeve.

What is up with the cold shoulder trend in plus size clothing? Meagan Kerr wears Forever 21 Plus Open Shoulder Top

What is up with the cold shoulder trend in plus size clothing? Meagan Kerr wears Forever 21 Plus Open Shoulder Top

There’s two reasons I don’t like cold shoulder tops. Firstly, it’s because I think that every top I’ve ever seen with an open shoulder or a split sleeve would look a hundred times better if it was just a full sleeve. This top (which I bought from Forever 21) is a really good example – I love the stripes, I love the fit of the top, the neckline is great, it’s got a cute embroidered appliqué detail … and then holy shit, someone chopped out the shoulders. If it was a full sleeve I would be wearing it all the time. I might even buy two. But cold shoulder? No thanks.

The second reason I’m not a fan is that I once heard a well known stylist imply that our shoulders are the only part of us that it’s okay to have uncovered, and the rest should be hidden or minimised. It’s not the only time I’ve heard someone make that kind of comment, it’s one of the many ridiculous fat girl fashion rules that gets bought up regularly, but now every time I see cold shoulder tops being one of the few options available in plus sizes, it makes me mad. It seems like this is the overlying message being sent to women, that parts of our bodies are unacceptable if we’re fat, and they should be hidden. But this one bit of skin that doesn’t look too fat? You can feel free to show that off. And while you’re at it, buy a cardigan because it will actually leave your shoulders exposed to the cold.

What is up with the cold shoulder trend in plus size clothing? Meagan Kerr wears Forever 21 Plus Open Shoulder Top

What is up with the cold shoulder trend in plus size clothing? Meagan Kerr wears Forever 21 Plus Open Shoulder Top

What is up with the cold shoulder trend in plus size clothing? Meagan Kerr wears Forever 21 Plus Open Shoulder Top

I’m not saying that cold shoulder shouldn’t be an option, because I presume some people do actually like them. Well, I guess they do because obviously someone is buying them. I just want more cute options in plus sizes that don’t have that cut out detail. Is that too much to ask?

Now my dilemma is trying to decide whether I should remove the appliqué roses and add them to another top. They really are cute so I’m pretty tempted. Especially if I could find something striped with a full shoulder. Maybe there’s hope for this yet…

What do you think about the cold shoulder trend?
Love it or hate it – let me know below!

Meagan wears:
Forever 21+ Open Shoulder Top from Forever 21 (3X)
ASOS CURVE Circle Skirt from ASOS (26)
Life & Sole Snakeskin Hi-top Sneakers from Number One Shoes (8)

Photos: Ambient Light Photography (AU & NZ)

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  1. August 6, 2017 / 5:24 pm

    though i have 2 cold shoulder, just for a different style, i know that i can easily do without then as well.

    though i do wear my 2 occasionally i still would choose 1 of them if it was a full sleeve

  2. August 6, 2017 / 1:13 am

    I agree! I hate the cold shoulder tops. The cut out seems pointless and ruins the shirts. My sister loves them. It’s the weirdest trend.

  3. Fiona
    August 5, 2017 / 7:38 pm

    You could wear something underneath in a nice fabric or contrast colour? That way you can keep the appliqué!

    • August 5, 2017 / 9:38 pm

      I’m going to keep the appliqué, but put it on another top.

  4. Lynne
    August 5, 2017 / 4:06 pm

    mmmm well I bought one have not worn it yet though I’m waiting for warmer weather lol ….you could find some nice lace and sew in the void space easier to do than removing the roses …just a idea seeing you like everything else about the top 🙂

  5. Andrea
    August 5, 2017 / 3:51 pm

    I personally hate them.Hey Meagan did you finish your degree and graduate? Could you perhaps talk about your experience as a plus size at Uni?

    • August 5, 2017 / 4:06 pm

      I sure did, I have a BDVA! More than happy to talk about it, was there something in particular you wanted to know?

  6. Fenella Croad
    August 5, 2017 / 10:59 am

    I thought it was only me! I feel as if the winter styles, with cold shoulder cut outs, are not warm enough and, that the cut outs often ruin an otherwise nice top. I guess I will just have to keep on bucking the trrend, and not wearing them and trying and keep my muttering on the subject to a low roar, lol.

    • August 5, 2017 / 11:08 am

      *mutter mutter mutter* The winter styles make even less sense – I want to cover as much as I can in winter because it’s cold AF, I don’t want my shoulders to be the only part of me not warm!

  7. Victoria
    August 5, 2017 / 9:18 am

    I absolutely loathe the cold shoulder!! I have narrow shoulders and a big tummy. If I go into another store and get asked “have you tried the cold shoulder look” again, I may lose my sh*t. It doesn’t suit cos it never fits or sits in the right place!! Plus it’s impractical and it does not make me feel sexy!! Just my .02cents worth….

    • August 5, 2017 / 11:07 am

      “Have you tried the cold shoulder look?” HOW COULD I NOT HAVE, IT’S EVERYWHERE!

  8. Lesley
    August 5, 2017 / 8:47 am

    I don’t mind the wee peek of shoulder, in fact I have a few things now. A while back you had a black dress with a tiny bit of cold shoulder that you got from ezibuy and it was you favourite dress for a while. I ended up ordering one after your review and holy cow…. I LOVED it and got so many compliments when I wore it. When it went on sale I purchased another one that was a couple of sizes smaller and I now fit it. Woop woop. I got another couple of tops in a similar small cold shoulder and they are great too… but I agree they are not really winter things! Since trying out that dress I discovered that I ACTUALLY CAN wear dresses and that you can have shape and feel confident. I have a few dresses and skirts now. I agree that having a variety of differing styles would be helpful. Some with, some without. Variety of necklines. Just because we buy plus size doesn’t mean we need a plunging neckline or extra long sleeves… I’m quite small in height and sometimes I wonder who actually designs plus size clothing sometimes!!! Anyway… thanks for your review and link to that SARA black cold shoulder dress. I am rocking version 2!

    • August 5, 2017 / 9:11 am

      I don’t know that I can take credit for that, because I don’t think that was me? I’m pretty sure I’ve never owned a black cold shoulder dress. I did try a black and white striped one on at Farmers once, after seeing it on Lisa from No Filter Mum though? Glad you found something you loved anyway. Definitely agree with the neckline and sleeves comment, more variety would be great! Personally I love a v neck (not too plunging) and an elbow length – full sleeve, how about you?

      • Lesley
        August 5, 2017 / 10:06 pm

        I honestly thought it was you, sorry! Yip, I agree. V neck , not too deep and 3/4 sleeves are great!! Love your posts anyhow!

        • August 12, 2017 / 10:40 am

          Thanks Lesley ❤️ I saw Lisa snap about the dress from EziBuy the other day so now I know what one you’re talking about and it was definitely her that bought it! It looks so nice on her.

          • Leia
            September 21, 2017 / 6:04 pm

            Thank you for doing these reviews xx as a big girl I never know if the clothing online is accurate. So pleased to get shoes and boots in mammoth foot sizes lol. Have you tried the boots at your fashion?

          • September 22, 2017 / 12:35 pm

            You’re so welcome! I’ve never bought boots online before, sorry!

  9. Michelle T
    August 5, 2017 / 8:20 am

    I am with you… think it’s very ironic that there are a lot of winter tops and jumpers with the shoulders cut out… seriously??
    I am not a fan, even in the summer months, probably more because I see it as a trend that will date easily and I don’t have the extra cash to splash around on this.

    • August 5, 2017 / 8:59 am

      In summer it’s more understandable (maybe?) but winter? Where is the rest of my jumper?!

  10. Genny
    August 5, 2017 / 8:19 am

    Omg yes! This is exactly how I feel about cold shoulder. As a style it makes me angry because it has been popular in plus styles for ages. As a way to show a bit of skin but to keep the shameful secret that we have big arms too. Angry! Just bare those beautiful arms! But now that it’s become mainstream and the last two years has snuck into straight sized fashion – I’m just bemused. Mind you there’s a lot of crimes against sleeves happening in the fashion world at the moment.

      • Genny
        August 6, 2017 / 10:22 am

        Yes those flared sleeves! Ugh they just say ‘I never eat soup for lunch’ or do anything which involves putting my arms near a sink, ink, or keyboard. On the GJGardner add a women is wearing a great top but with huge sleeves folded up with massive buttons.. a lot of the off shoulder tops also seem to have funky sleeves. That seems like a day doomed to constantly adjusting your top and making sure your arms just hang by your side all day

        • August 12, 2017 / 10:38 am

          Haha I’m ALLLLLLL about the flared sleeves – I just got this top! I just fold them back if I’m eating soup or washing dishes or whatever

  11. Grace C
    August 5, 2017 / 8:16 am

    I have two cold shoulder dresses that I absolutely adore, but mostly because the cut outs show my tattoos off! Lol

    Aside from that im really not fussed on the trend, it makes some tops look too busy or sit weird, and it seems to be a good excuse for the sellers to charge and extra $10 for missing fabric lol.

    • August 5, 2017 / 8:57 am

      Maybe it’s one of those “should be used sparingly” trends?

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