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Impossibly-Low Neckline
You using duct tape to hold that up?

"Ah! How am I supposed to keep this thing on?!"

An off-the-shoulder neckline that is so far off those shoulders that it looks as though the wearer is one deep breath away from a Wardrobe Malfunction (which almost never actually happens).

The actual outfit doesn't matter. It could be a bathing suit, a Spy Catsuit, a Mini Dress Of Power, a Leotard of Power, a Sexy Santa Dress, or even a Pimped-Out Dress, Fairytale Wedding Dress, or Happy Holidays Dress. All that matters is that the neckline seems to be held in place by magic (or duct tape). This trope can even overlap with Victoria's Secret Compartment, though that seems to strain the viewers' Willing Suspension of Disbelief even further.

This trope lends itself best to still images or animation, but it can be done in live action. In Real Life, sleeveless bodices with gravity-defying decolletage are held in place by transparent straps or hidden adhesive. Another method is to make the top itself rigid and corsetlike (strips of plastic or metal are sewn into the seams to hold the shape, called "boning";—-a term left over from when corsets and hoop skirts were made with whalebone—-and yes, all the jokes have already been made).

A Sister Trope to Absolute Cleavage, Sideboob, Underboobs, and Cleavage Window.

Compare Magic Skirt, Of Corsets Sexy, Theiss Titillation Theory (it's sexy because it looks like it will fall to her waist at any second), Impractically Fancy Outfit, Impossibly Cool Clothes, Form-Fitting Wardrobe, Cleavage Window.

Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Anime and Manga 

    Comic Books 
  • In X-Men, the Hellfire Club outfits include bustiers that are like this, worn by Emma Frost, Selene, and Phoenix (and Jean Grey, depending on continuity). Some got even more ridiculous recently, although that's supposedly just Emma playing mind tricks... even though it doesn't explain any other impossible comic heroine costume.
  • Wonder Woman sometimes has this.
  • In The Demon Mages, Ari the Gorgon's dress is designed with this trope in mind. In most of her artwork outside of the comic, it also reveals a large scar on her left breast.
  • Gemini Storm's artist posted the inks for one of the pages. How are her breasts staying there?

    Film 
  • Jessica Rabbit from Who Framed Roger Rabbit. It's okay for her, firstly because she's an animated character, and secondly because she's not really meant to be all that realistic anyway.
  • Belle's yellow ball gown in Disney's Beauty and the Beast looks this way in some shots, but higher up in others.
  • Esmeralda also has a very low neckline as well, not just with her main Gypsy dress, but also with her poledancing dress and her white dress as well.
  • Meg's Masquerade dress and Christine's black dress in Joel Schumacher's The Phantom of the Opera. Christine's neckline in the graveyard scene is highly anachronistic, since it's a friggin' "mourning dress", which were at the time of the film's setting supposed to be modest.
  • A lot of the women in Hammer Horror films would wear outfits that would hover just at that right spot to expose enough flesh to interest any vampires/werewolves/monsters passing by.
  • The dresses worn by Elizabeth and her Wicked Stepmother in The Legend of the Titanic. Keep in mind that this is 1912, and that both of them are high society ladies.
  • For a large portion of the second half of Jewel Robbery (1932), Baroness Teri von Horhenfels (Kay Francis) wears a gown which is backless, off the shoulders, and has a low front neckline. There are no visible means of support, yet the gown stays firmly in place. One possible answer is that the tops of the sleeves are tightly held to her upper arms, perhaps with elastic, and this is the support for the gown as a whole.
  • Miss Scarlet's dress from Clue looks like this.

    Literature 
  • In the book Mrs. 'Arris Goes to Paris by Paul Gallico, this off the shoulder dress style is described as simulating the look of a naked woman under a sheet.
  • Used in The Wheel of Time when Nynaeve, Elayne, and their companions are traveling undercover as circus performers. Nynaeve and Birgitte wear dresses with Impossibly Low Necklines for their act, in which Birgitte outlines Nynaeve against a wall with arrows from a hundred paces. Played for Laughs because of Nynaeve's frustration with being forced to wear something so immodest, while Birgitte is having a grand old time of it.
  • In Jinx High by Mercedes Lackey, the villainess commissions a costume straight out of the American Revolutionary period for the school dance. The bodice is cut so low that one of her boyfriends has almost complete access to her boobs while she's wearing it (handy when you need to distract said boyfriend while the mind control spell takes effect).
  • Parodied in Poul Anderson and Gordon R. Dickson's Hoka series: "pirate wench" Anne Bonney has to have a low neckline, but Hoka females are quadrimammarian. Her dress has two bodices.
  • "Stress Analysis of a Strapless Evening Gown", a parody of scientific papers, plays with this.

    Live Action TV 
  • During the production of Star Trek: The Original Series, costume designer William Ware Theiss was given explicit instructions by the network on how far he could go; one such instruction permitted costumes whose décolletage could expose anything all the way down to the top edge of the areola. Theiss, knowing a good thing when he saw it, followed those guidelines (ahem) explicitly.
  • Cynthia Watros in a couple of later episodes of Titus.
  • Some of the costumes on The Tudors.
  • Gossip Girl's Serena van der Woodsen likes to dress like this.
  • In an episode of Living Single, Regine tries to describe a new dress to her friends, but they know her too well:
    Max: Lemme guess, it's strapless...
    Sinclaire: ...backless...
    Kadijah: ...and hits the cleavage about here. (puts her hand about two-thirds down her chest)

    Theater 

    Video Games 
  • Lulu from Final Fantasy X. She keeps up her dress with a heavily boned corset and belts on the upper arms. But it's basically the fur trim that keeps her from total exposure.
  • Amy in Soul Calibur IV also has a low neckline, with the fur trim being the only thing keeping the players from seeing everything.
  • The "witch" costume set from City of Heroes is obviously held up with staples and glue a NAILGUN!, because there's nothing else to keep it on your character's body.
  • Rouge from Sonic the Hedgehog. Might be justified by the fact a high neckline would be inconvenient for winged characters.
    • And, to a lesser extent, Marine the Raccoon. Hers isn't played for fanservice though - she's only seven, so there's nothing to show off anyway.
  • Morrigan from Darkstalkers has such a low-cut outfit that, if she wasn't a Horny Devil, would be a walking wardrobe malfunction. Of course, she's not actually wearing clothes...
  • Hanne Lichthammer from Clive Barker's Jericho wears an extremely tight-fitting, S&M-style SS uniform that just barely manages to contain her assets. Considering her horrifically mutilated appearance, though, this is definitely an example of Fan Disservice.
  • Sumire Kanzaki from Sakura Taisen, when wearing a kimono.
  • Jessica from Dragon Quest VIII features a gravity-defying shirt.
  • Several of The Sorceress' outfits in Gauntlet: Dark Legacy, but better displayed by the Blue Sorceress.
  • Kaguya Nanbu from Endless Frontier. The only thing that prevents her breasts from popping out of her clothes is the will of the Almighty, especially during bouncing.
  • Rose's new alternate costume in Super Street Fighter IV features this.
  • Guild Wars starts off all female Elementalists in the Prophecies campaign in a shirt (though the application of that term is questionable) that can only be explained by magic.
  • The Disgaea series has archers, and Disgaea 2 has Rozalin.
  • Kai and Nou in Samurai Warriors.
  • Sona and Ahri in League of Legends.
  • A male example in Inspector Grosky from the Professor Layton prequels. Just look.
  • Petra Johanna Lagerkvist from Arcana Heart.
  • Cerebella from Skullgirls.
  • When the Hero first meets Katrina in Quest for Glory IV, she's dressed rather demurely, with a hood and cloak partly concealing her. Later on, she discards the cloak when she switches into full Femme Fatale mode. Compare here and here. If the top wasn't a corset it would fall right down, and probably the only thing keeping her from popping out of the top of it is magic.
  • The female protagonist of Dragon's Dogma sports one of these in the opening of the game, seemingly to give the titular dragon a straight path to her heart.

    Webcomics 

    Web Original 
  • In the Whateley Universe, one of the many problems with the new costume of THE CRIMSON COMET!!!. Granted, she just got the superpowers and the curves a couple weeks ago and she hasn't gotten over it yet.

     Western Animation 
  • In The Simpsons, Marge Simpson's default green dress. Once even lampshaded by a prison warden.
    Warden: NOTHING IS KEEPING UP HER DRESS! ONLY HER MELONS!!!
    • At least that makes logical sense - but Lisa also wears an off-the-shoulder dress with the same neckline, and there is definitely *nothing* to hold hers up except Artistic License - Physics.
  • Sneakily brought up in an episode of Superman: The Animated Series where Clark and Lois are covering a Fashion Show:
    Lois (about Lana): "The only thing holding that dress up is faith!"


Half-Dressed Cartoon AnimalPartial Nudity TropesLeotard of Power
Impossibly Cool ClothesImprobable Appearance TropesImpractically Fancy Outfit
Impossibly Cool ClothesCostume TropesImpossibly Tacky Clothes
Hell-Bent for LeatherFanservice CostumesKimono Fanservice
French Maid OutfitStripperifficLeotard of Power
Floating WaterImageSource/Video GamesSculpted Physique

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