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Is Cleavage Over? Vogue Says So, But We’re Not So Sure



It’s official – cleavage is over. Vogue has declared it, and therefore it must be true. The era of ideal breasts being perfectly spherical and elevated by a heavily engineered bra is done, according to the fashion bible.

High-collared or more gently scooped necklines and a more natural breast shape – as recently demonstrated by actresses such as Alicia Vikander and Jennifer Lawrence – are favored by the high-fashion gods these days, in what has been noted as a return to the “’70s boob.” Strong clavicles and the sternum have been declared the current female body features to be displayed and desired.

Having been “shorthand for allure” for the last 20-25 years, the move away from prominent cleavage is a significant shift in what is categorized as desirable about the traditionally-female body. One of the central reasons for Vogue’s existence is to make declarations on what is trending and what is not, but this kind of trend – the celebration or otherwise of a certain body shape, type and or look – is more troubling than the traditional seasonal declarations of must-have color palettes and fabrics.

Most people are happy to go out and replace a handbag or shirt in an outdated style for a new one; if you’re a busty woman and you find that your body shape is suddenly declared passé, what can you do about that?

Before discussing whether cleavage is over or not (and whether we should care or not), part of Vogue’s reasoning for exposed cleavage being on the decline needs to be addressed. According to stylist Elizabeth Saltzman, cleavage is over due to creeps on Instagram. She notes that whenever female celebrities post cleavage-revealing photos on Instagram, 90% of the comments are leery observations about said cleavage.

However, the idea that the solution to preventing lecherous comments being made about a woman’s body is for that woman to cover herself is suspicious, to say the least – surely the solution is for creeps to stop being creeps.

Kevork Djansezian / Getty

She is not to blame for the sleazy comments being made about her body. She is responsible only for making herself feel and look however the hell she wants to, and if that involves her getting her “tits out for the lads” (or whoever she wants to see them), that’s entirely up to her. It is sadly defeatist of Saltzman to concede that comments made by other people on a woman’s body are that woman’s responsibility to manage, particularly from such a high-profile platform such as Vogue.

Our cavemen ancestors used to select partners based on practical survival stuff like wide hips for fertility and broad shoulders for strength. However, since we have more or less assured the survival of our species, much more superficial features have been declared as ideal. Piled-up cleavage has been “the thing to do with your boobs” from 1994, when model Eva Herzigova shot the infamous “Hello Boys” advert for Wonderbra.


Buzzfeed produced a popular video in 2015 featuring the female body types celebrated as ideal throughout 3,000 years of history. If you’re a woman with rounded stomach and fair skin, you’d have slayed in renaissance Italy. The ideal woman in Victorian England was apparently “desirably plump,” as a well-fed woman was usually a wealthy one.