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Impossibly-Low Neckline

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You using duct tape to hold that up?

"Ah! How am I supposed to keep this thing on?!"
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A neckline that is so low that the wearer seems to be one deep breath away from a Wardrobe Malfunction (which almost never actually happens). Held up mostly by gravity and good posture. note 

The actual outfit is not important for this trope. It could be a bathing suit, a Spy Catsuit, a Mini Dress Of Power, a Leotard of Power, a Sexy Santa Dress, a halter top, T-shirt or even a Pimped-Out Dress, Fairytale Wedding Dress, or Happy Holidays Dress. All that matters is that its neckline seems to be held up by magic (or duct tape). This trope can even overlap with Victoria's Secret Compartment, though that will strain the viewers' Willing Suspension of Disbelief even further than it strains the fabric.

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 using boning (strips of plastic or metal sewn into the seams to hold the shape) and yes, all the jokes have already been made.

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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:

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    Anime and Manga 
  • The title character of Birdy the Mighty's uniform resembles a one-piece bathing suit with this included.
  • Black Butler II: Ran Mao's outfit at the Trancy costume ball in episode 5.
  • Digimon has Lilithmon/Laylamon, the series' embodiment of lust. Despite having that descriptor, her outfit isn't all that revealing and mostly resembles a more winged version of Lulu's outfit pictured above as this page's trope image.
  • Ikaruga from Fairy Tail wears her kimono this way.
  • Fate/Prototype: In the prequel, Fragments of Sky Silver, Manaka Sajyou wears her dress normally. In the present, she unbuttons it and lets it hang past her shoulders.
  • Lust from Fullmetal Alchemist wears a Little Black Dress below her armpits. Technically speaking, she and at least some of the other Homunculi are naked because their "clothes" are really part of their body, as shown when they're injured and their clothes regenerate with the rest of them.
  • Current timeline Athena sports this in Hayate the Combat Butler.
  • Prome O and Nilval Nephew of Heroic Age. There are some shots where it seems Barbie Doll Anatomy may be the only thing keeping Prome looking even remotely decent...
  • In High School D×D, Kuroka always wears her kimono this way. She doesn't wear any undergarments and wouldn't care if she got exposed anyway.
  • Angel Mort's uniform in Higurashi: When They Cry, pretty similar to Lust's dress.
  • Macross Frontier's Sheryl Nome is guilty of this in a few of her more elaborate pieces of wardrobe. Her outfit for Lion (the song) is particularly guilty. That said, it's completely justified - what she's actually wearing is a holographic bodysuit with her more physics-defying outfits projected over the top.
  • Fabia Crozelg's adult form in Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha Vivid is shown in Chapter 50 to have a barrier jacket whose top is worn this way. Considering how she's a Wicked Witch, it probably is held in place by magic.
  • Alcyone from Magic Knight Rayearth, specially in the anime. See here.
  • Mei Terumi, the Fifth Mizukage, in Naruto.
  • Of course Negima! has this (un)covered. Mana infiltrates the Governor's ball in a disguise that includes a strapless, backless ballgown/corset. She's still wearing it during her Big Damn Heroes moment.
  • Meet Belladonna, a minor character in One Piece.
  • In Magical Pokaan, the belt Liru wears as a top combines this with underboobs.
  • Ogin of Requiem from the Darkness, when not in disguise, exclusively wears a very low kimono. Made all the more impressive by Ogin moving around more than most examples of this trope: she frequently shows off her ability to run, crawl, drag people away and even swim without falling out.
  • In Rurouni Kenshin, Yumi's neckline was already pretty low to begin with, but it kept descending steadily until her kimono was more or less completely off the shoulders. Watsuki mentioned in a commentary that he heard from several cosplayers who remarked how impossible it was to maintain their modesty while dressed as her.
  • Samurai Deeper Kyo's Izumo no Okuni. Of course, given that she's also seen hovering in midair at times, she's probably levitating the kimono to hold it in place.
  • In Show by Rock!!, Daru Dayu wears her kimono this way. She's wearing a corset or tube top underneath so her breasts don't get exposed.
  • In Xxx HO Li C, anything and everything ever worn by Yuuko. Then again, A Wizard Did It.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! has Dark Magician Girl, who wears an outfit that hangs off her shoulders (past her armpits, to be precise). Since Dark Magician Girl is one of the most animated monsters in the series, her breasts always look like they're about to jump out. The only reason she doesn't have any wardrobe malfunctions is because her costume is also skintight.

    Comic Books 
  • 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.
  • Depending on the Artist, Domino Lady's signature white gown can be this. The original pulp stories specify the gown is backless, and almost all artists have taken this to mean strapless as well. Some artists have drawn the neckline so low it would be impossible for her to move, let alone run or fight, without popping out.
  • Sersi of The Eternals was designed with a strapless green bustier that's sometimes drawn in this manner. Interestingly, while her new costume from the 2006 relaunch by Neil Gaiman is still rather revealing, it at least has straps this time to explain how it actually stays on her body during combat.
  • Gemini Storm's artist posted the inks for one of the pages. How are her breasts staying there?
  • Red Robin villain the Wanderer may have the excuse of using skin contact to kill people for choosing a neckline that is open to her shorts but she'd require a massive amount of nearly super powered tape to keep her boobs in the thing she wears as a shirt while flipping around and fighting.
  • Thunderstrike: Marcy opens a health salon wearing a fancy red dress, that shows off her healthy figure. This includes very low cut cleavage.
  • Wonder Woman's strapless bustier is sometimes drawn too low to stay on while she's fighting without having been surgically glued to her breasts.
  • 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.
    • Surge's costume also frequently involves tube tops that would require a substantial amount of double-sided tape to keep her contained.
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    Fan Fiction 

    Film — Animated 

    Film — Live Action 
  • Miss Scarlet's dress from Clue looks like this.
  • 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.
  • In Happy Death Day 2U, Danielle wears a college T-shirt cut enough to make one nerd very distracted ("hey, head's in the middle").
  • 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.
  • 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 mourning dress, which were at the time of the film's setting supposed to be modest.
  • 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.

    Literature 
  • 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.
  • 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).
  • 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.
    • More generally, within the copious amount of Costume Porn in the series, some variation on the phrase "she looked like she was about to pop out of her dress" appears about once a book. One of many examples of Author Appeal.
  • "Stress Analysis of a Strapless Evening Gown", a parody of scientific papers, plays with this.

    Live Action TV 
  • A costume drama set at court in the Tang Dynasty was censored by the Chinese government for its low necklines even though the producers showed with contemporary paintings that their costumes were based on historically correct outfits.
  • The half t-shirt that Kris Munroe's wearing in this scene from the "Mother Goose is Running for His Life" episode of Charlie's Angels.
  • 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 
  • Magda in Tanz Der Vampire. How is she supposed to scrub floors in that!?
  • In the stage version of West Side Story, Maria nags at Anita about her new dancing dress.
    Maria: Make the neck lower.
    Anita: Next year.
    Maria: Next year I will be married to Chino and no one will care if it is down to here! [indicating the floor]
    Anita: Down to where?
    Maria: Down to ... here. [indicating her waist]

    Video Games 
  • Shih-na from Ace Attorney Investigations: Miles Edgeworth wears an impossibly skimpy dress that provides no method of holding itself up. Presumably, there's a generous amount of tape involved.
  • Petra Johanna Lagerkvist from Arcana Heart.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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...
  • The Disgaea series has archers, and Disgaea 2 has Rozalin. Disgaea 5: Alliance of Vengeance has Seraphina, whose top is cut so low that magic is the only explanation for why she isn't constantly subjected to a Wardrobe Malfunction.
  • Jessica from Dragon Quest VIII features a gravity-defying shirt.
  • 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.
  • Fate/Grand Order: Artemis' dress to a ridiculous extent. Her outfit doesn't even connect to her shoulders, and looks like the outfit is practically glued onto her breasts.
  • Lulu from Final Fantasy X, as you can see above. 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. One wonders if she is capable of using her black magic to prevent sunburn that would otherwise occur from dressing her pale self like that on a tropical island.
  • Several of The Sorceress' outfits in Gauntlet: Dark Legacy, but better displayed by the Blue Sorceress.
  • Guild Wars starts off all female Elementalists in the Prophecies campaign in what can only be described as lingerie, and even then, its ability to stay on can only be explained by magic. And of course, the male variant is a shirt, jacket, and trousers that cover everything.
  • Sona and Ahri in League of Legends.
  • Matriarch Benezia from Mass Effect. Her ex-wife reminisces fondly about it in the sequels.
  • A male example in Inspector Grosky from the Professor Layton prequels. Just look.
  • 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.
  • Freudia, Sichte, and Liebea from Rosenkreuzstilette all have outfits that not only expose their shoulders but also couldn't be worn any higher than the top areas of their chests. Zorne also later gets one such outfit of her own in Rosenkreuzstilette Freudenstachel as part of her Costume Evolution.
  • Cerebella from Skullgirls. Her design notes explain that it's literally taped on.
  • 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.
  • Sumire Kanzaki from Sakura Wars, when wearing a kimono.
  • Kai and Nou in Samurai Warriors.
  • Amy in SoulCalibur IV also has a low neckline, with the fur trim being the only thing keeping the players from seeing everything.
  • Rose's alternate costume in Super Street Fighter IV features this.
  • Keira Metz of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. While all of Geralt's love interests sport form-fitting outfits, Keira's stands out due to its neckline that dips well past her bust line to show off not just her cleavage but most of her sternum. Ves too, to Roache's fury.
    Roache: ...instead of donning a breastplate, you dash into battle shirt open, navel and...whatnot exposed!
  • World of Mana brings us Primm from Secret of Mana as well as Angela, Riesz, Belladonna, and Jessica from Trials of Mana. The original heroine's redesign in Adventures of Mana also features this (which is concealed by her capelet, of course).

    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 

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