One of my teenage sartorial quirks was to wear my V-necked sweaters backwards.

In my defence, it was the Eighties and V-backed sweaters were a thing. So long as the label was not stitched so as to reveal a tell-tale rectangular outline, a back-to-front twizzle could endow any outfit with attitude.

In truth, fashion has long had a fascination with the view from behind. When I worked at Harper’s Bazaar U.S. in 2002, the title relaunched with a double cover featuring Gisele Bundchen in a dazzling-from-all-angles red dress.

It was shot from the front and the back respectively and emblazoned with the cover line: Fashion’s Back!

We knew backs were, well, back at last year’s Met Ball, the annual fashion extravaganza hosted by American Vogue editor Anna Wintour. The shoulder blades of the most powerful women in fashion were on display.

But an appealing back view doesn’t have to actually show your back or shoulders at all. It’s frequently down to the simplest of details. A simple pleat pattern, collar or gathered shoulder can be all the detailing you need.

Exposed zips are a good shortcut to a chic rear view, too. That was the idea behind the long, rose-gold zippers snaking from the nape of the neck to the hem in Victoria Beckham’s first collection — dresses that looked as good from the back as the front.

Roksanda Ilincic is another designer who favours exposed zippers down the spine of her beautiful evening gowns, a touch which imbues her frocks with strength; backbone! There’s something distinctly regal and quietly powerful about a dramatic back.

Not for nothing do ecclesiastical garments often have ornately embellished backs, to command the gaze of all as they make their procession up the aisle. The same can be said of brides (and bridesmaids!).

As ever, if one thing is daring keep everything else demure. So, with a tie-back, I’d look for midi-length skirts or trousers.

* Sarah Bailey is Executive Brand Editor at Porter magazine.

The rules:

1. If you’re showing off your back or shoulder blades, keep everything else covered up.

2. Take a thin roll neck when you shop to see if it looks good with strappy details on tops.

3. Remember, a long zipper can make a big impact when you’re walking away.

4. Often the skin on your back is better than your chest — yet another reason to move the point of interest 180 degrees.

Categories: Fashion News