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Impossibly-Low Neckline

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Are you using duct tape to hold that up?

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

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 sew strips of plastic or metal into the seams to make it rigid, resulting in a top that will stay up even when no one's in it.note 

A Sister Trope to Navel-Deep Neckline, 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.


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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.
  • Ran Mao wears a kimono that hangs off her shoulders and reveals a lot of cleavage at the Trancy costume ball in episode 5 of Black Butler II.
  • 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 white kimono completely off her shoulders to reveal a fair amount of cleavage.
  • 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. Counts as Fan Disservice since doing this reveals the wound that originally killed her, which still bleeds and soaks her top with blood.
  • 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.
  • In Hayate the Combat Butler, Athena wears a black dress with a low neckline that exhibits a good amount of her cleavage.
  • The Helpful Fox Senko-san: Yozora/Sora wears her kimono completely off her shoulders. One suspects she uses magic to stop it from falling off.
  • 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.
  • 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, especially in the anime, wears a strapless leotard that somehow never falls off despite the big size of her breasts.
  • Mei Terumi, the Fifth Mizukage, in Naruto wears a Sexy Slit Dress that only covers up to the upper part of her arms and the underside of her breasts, leaving her shoulders, collarbone and a bit of cleavage exposed.
  • In Negima! Magister Negi Magi, Mana infiltrates the Governor's ball in a disguise that includes a strapless, backless ballgown/corset.
  • In One Piece, a minor character named Belladonna wears a top that hangs off her shoulders and is held in place by just one button.
  • 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 ×××HOLiC, anything and everything ever worn by Yuuko has a very low neckline that exposes at least part of her shoulders and cleavage.
  • 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 that 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.


    Films — Animation 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Miss Scarlet's dress from Clue looks like this, particularly scandalous considering the movie is set in the 1950's. In the movie she's a madam, so it's not surprising that she'd be more forwardly sexual.
  • 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").
  • One gag in The Jerk has fun with this when Navin and Marie go out to eat at a fancy restaurant, with Marie wearing a dress that greatly emphasizes her cleavage. When Navin sees that the restaurant is feeding them "snails" (escargot), Marie averts her eyes in disgust by looking up in a way that makes her cleavage more obvious.
  • For a large portion of the second half of Jewel Robbery (1932), Baroness Teri von Horhenfels (Kay Francis) wears a gown that 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.
  • Mandalay: Enforced. As is with any film from the early thirties starring Kay Francis, there are bias-cut gowns with amazingly low necklines. Special mention goes to the dresses she wears while working as a prostitute at the "Jardin d'Orient" nightclub. So, it's kind of justified 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 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.

  • 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.

    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.
  • 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)

  • 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 
  • Petra Johanna Lagerkvist from Arcana Heart wears a strapless white dress that exposes her shoulders and cleavage.
  • 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 Succubus, 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.
  • Dragon Rage: Adara's Leotard of Power doesn't appear to have anything holding it up.
  • 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 Series:
    • 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.
    • Tamamo-no-Mae from Fate/EXTRA (her default outfit) and Fate/Grand Order (all her outfits) sports one.
    • Napoleon Bonaparte provides a Rare Male Example in his first form, where his shirt and vest are both unbuttoned to halfway down his chest to show off his muscular torso. He does button them up in later forms, and one of his Ascension comments is how that kind of look is best left to the ladies anyway.
  • 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 have a low neckline, 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.
  • League of Legends:
    • Sona wears a low-cut blue dress that reveals a fair amount of cleavage and just barely covers her shoulders.
    • Ahri wears a strapless, short kimono with detached sleeves that exposes her shoulders and quite a bit of cleavage.
  • 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 wears a bright orange strapless low-cut mini-dress. Her design notes explain that it's literally taped on.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog:
    • Rouge's Iconic Outfit is a strapless Spy Catsuit that shows off her large cleavage. Might be justified by the fact that she's a bat and a high neckline would be inconvenient for winged characters.
    • Marine the Raccoon wears a lime green tube top. Hers isn't played for fanservice though - she's only seven, so there's no cleavage to show off anyway.
  • In Sakura Wars, when Sumire Kanzaki wears a kimono, she leaves it hanging off her shoulders to reveal some cleavage.
  • Amy in Soulcalibur IV 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 a low neckline. Also, one of her Street Fighter Alpha 3 win poses had her wearing a similar low-cut dress in pink.
  • The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt:
    • Keira Metz. 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 of the Blue Stripes, much to Roache's fury and consternation. While she wears traditional battle gear, none of it is properly secured, with both shirt and jacket lying completely open, exposing her entire sternum, held in place by single tie of the bottom most tether.
    Roache: ...instead of donning a breastplate, you dash into battle shirt open, navel and...whatnot exposed!

    Visual Novels 
  • 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.
  • In Higurashi: When They Cry, Angel Mort's waitresses wear an uniform that's basically a strapless black leotard that reveals the shoulders and cleavage.


    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