We tried the ‘naked’ illusion dress that celebrities love

There’s a new ‘naked’ dress in town — and instead of the sheer, sparkly styles we’ve seen on red carpets for years, this season’s version is completely covered up.

In recent weeks, celebrities like Bella Thorne, ‘Real Housewives of Atlanta’ star Marlo Hampton and Kylie Jenner have turned heads in trompe-l’oeil looks, featuring photo-realistic prints of the nude female form.

Designer Jean Paul Gaultier, who pioneered the near-nude look in the ’90s, recently teamed up with stylist Lotta Volkova on a sassy collaboration that “liberates the nipple” in a whole new way for Jenner, Hampton and Tove Lo.

Sergio Castaño Peña of the Syndical Chamber is also leading the trend, equipping Thorne, Iggy Azalea, Demi Lovato and Cardi B in his curve-enhancing creations.

Kylie Jenner, Marlo Hampton and Bella Thorne wear nude dresses
Kylie Jenner, Marlo Hampton and Bella Thorne are among the stars who love the near-nude look – so I decided to try it myself.
movie magic; marlohampton/Instagram

Just to be sure, this fake flesh-flash fad isn’t for the faint of heart — but I needed to know if a non-famous person could pull off any of these sexy styles in public, so I ordered a $12 Shein version that wore a striking resemblance to a dress I had seen at SZA, walked the streets of NYC uptown and hoped for the best.

Essentially a form-fitting, slightly more stylish version of those “bikini-body” T-shirts you might find in beachfront souvenir shops, my discount dress definitely earned a few double takes. As I passed the long line in front of the Museum of Natural History, several men, women, and children gave me questioning looks.

And a construction worker practically gave himself whiplash when he examined the back of the garment—printed with the image of a shapely naked booty seemingly modeled on a Kardashian’s—as I crossed the street. Who needs a BBL when you can fake it with fashion?

It probably helped that the breasts, crotch, and butt screened over the dress more or less matched my own bits; on Shein’s website, a small shopper complained that the “design tits were literally close” [her] navel,” and the “vagina was touching” [her] knees,” calling the effect “just as embarrassing and not cute.”

Still, I was somewhat surprised that more people didn’t stop to stare at my optical illusion of an outfit; while a few people sneaked a peek inside the subway, most just had their faces buried in their phones. I think it’s true what they say: New Yorkers have really seen it all.

Or maybe it’s just that the naked trompe l’oeil dress isn’t as shocking as its really naked predecessor; I definitely felt more confident in mine than I would in something seriously sheer.

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

naked dress
It’s a wrap!
Gabriela Milian

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