Halter Top Dresses and Strapless: Bare Arms & Be Ready for Scrutiny

Halter top dresses and strapless dresses are two popular designs appropriate for beach and patio wear.

Here's what you need to know to get fitted for these styles.

We can get away with a lot when wearing beach dresses. However, some of us may worry about flabby upper arms, midriff love handles, and revealing necklines.

Shrugs Are the Ideal Cover-Up

One solution for over-exposure in skimpy summer dresses is to buy a simple shrug or other cover-up to wear to resort cafes.

Of course, summer sun dresses are never appropriate away from resort towns. They should be avoided when visiting any place of business, especially those that are formal, such as attorneys’ offices.

Strapless Dresses: Construction Is Everything

Strapless formal dresses are most likely to have proper reinforcement. Summer sun dresses may rely on elastic banding that is not up to the job of providing good support.

Two Guidelines:

FIRST, be sure there is no roll of flesh above the top line of the strapless bodice.

Look in a three-way mirror or consult a truthful friend. Husbands and boyfriends may lie, because they don’t want to hurt your feelings or they may not even notice.

SECOND, make sure the bodice does not slip down as you move. Onlookers will fear that your nipples are about to pop out at any moment.

For a priceless analysis of the engineering problems poses by the strapless gown, read Charles E. Siem's essay, complete with diagrams.

Halter Tops Can Be Too Revealing

Halter top dresses also require well-constructed support, usually built-in to make sure your bosom stays covered.

The V-neck often plunges to the waist. If the bodice is too loose, the least movement shows everything you've got from the side angle.

Bending over can make you a candidate for violating public indecency laws.

Be polite, and make sure your summer sun dress does not show too much cleavage.

The Midriff and Its Problems

Strapless formal dresses with built-in support conceal midriff bulge. Some of you may remember when strapless dresses were constructed with "bones" to create a form-fitting bodice. These originally were made of whalebone; these days they are more likely to be plastic.

Today, engineered stretch fabrics may provide support, especially in the more casual summer sun dresses.

Be sure your strapless gown fits properly without unsightly midriff bulging. Empire-cut strapless dresses are one solution.

Is Your Back Flawless?

Halter top dresses expose all of your back, often clear to the waistline.

Your back must be pretty. If you are prone to summer rashes on your back (my problem) or have skin coming off in patches from peeling sunburn, this is not your best look.

The rules for how to wear clothes and look good are always the same – highlight your assets and draw the eye away from that which you wish to conceal.

Summer sun dresses don't have to be skimpy to be fun and flirty. For example, while some tropical print dresses are backless or strapless, you can still find modestly cut caftan and street wear in this motif that has been popular since the 1940s.

Halter top dresses and strapless dresses are perennial favorites among women's summer clothing, for good reasons. Whether these styles are right for you is a personal decision based not on age but on how you look – and how you want to present yourself.

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