It’s coming up to Seoul Fashion Week soon, and caonimas naturally want to be ready, so that means it’s time for another episode of the much-loved, much-requested Kpopalypse fashion class! In this episode, Kpopalypse looks at the fashion science behind necklines, with k-pop examples!
Many Kpopalypse readers wish to know the trufax behind necklines. What sort of neckline is best for boob enhancement? Is it possible to increase apparent bustiness without even accesorising the boob area, but by adding the appropriate neckline, and if so, exactly how does this work? Can bustiness also be reduced via clever neckline selection? Which neckline will solve climate change, world hunger and nuclear proliferation? Let’s answer these important questions!
K-pop is actually a very good proving ground to study neckline science, as k-pop is always going for the same type of fashion sentiment as most fashion magazines do, which can be summed up as a homogenisation approach.
Consider the above picture of Girls’ Generation (you remember them, right?). Avid fans of this group will know that the girls are definitely not all the same height, but they all got shopped that way because in k-pop the visual design aesthetic is usually one of “perfection”. The idea of “perfection” implies one fixed standard, because as soon as you move away from this, then you have a theoretical “imperfection”. Hence we have nine girls with the same hair, the same clothes, and the same ideal proportions, because that was decided to be the “perfect look” for this particular concept photo. Look at the precise horizontal alignment of where each member’s thighs meet their pants – this has been measured out to the millimeter. But wait…
For some reason, Sunny’s boobs didn’t get squared off as neatly as everything else. In this photo she looks like an anomaly – not only are her boobs different, but her posture is a little more sideways than the rest of the group. Perhaps the image editor just forgot about her. Or maybe her boobs jutting out on the right hand side of the image was designed to balance out the elbow similarly exposed on the far left side of the group shot. Of course any editing down of her boobs would maybe be too obvious, given that her volume is notoriously well-known among the group’s fans – so this little deviation from the norm is tolerated.
Sunny’s boobs stick out here precisely because everything else in the photo is so completely equalised. All the girls are wearing the same upper-body clothing, but more equality in this aspect just emphasises the inequality elsewhere (actual boob volume). If everyone is on the same playing field, the differences are more noticeable. It’s a bit like the political debate about “equality of opportunity” vs “equality of outcome” – but with tits. Therefore the way to adjust the outcome is by adjusting the playing field.
Both stars in the above image are the exact same size and this is fairly obvious when comparing these two images. However there’s an optical illusion here where the star on the right can appear to be ever-so-slightly bigger than the star on the left on first glance, even though rationally we know this isn’t true. The effect is subtle, but definitely noticeable if you crop one half of the above image with your hand, and then the other. This illusion appears because the human brain has an innate tendency to perceive size as a relative rather than absolute property, so the eye will compare the stars to the ovals when determining size. I’m sure there’s some bullshit reason for this to do with our ancient hunter-gatherer past and being able to throw spears at tigers or whatever, but I don’t know what it is – however the important point is that if you remove the ovals above the stars, this illusion vanishes.
Applying this type of knowledge to upper-body dress sense reveals facts which may seem counter-intuitive and surprising but I will demonstrate these by hunting and gathering k-pop examples so you can observe the relative size effects in action.
Here’s a picture of Gfriend. In this photo, the girls are all wearing exactly the same clothing. As a result, physical differences between the members can be easily perceived, much like in the Girls’ Generation photo we looked at earlier, and you could do your own ranking of their physical attributes based on this one photograph quite easily if you wanted. While complete lookalike dressing is common in k-pop, it’s not as common as the approach in the following photograph:
A more common k-pop practice is to dress the performers in clothes that are “similar but not the same”. This allows stylists and wardrobe to then adjust for physical differences between the performers, to get each person closer to the “ideal” which the brain perceives as an aggregate of everybody in the picture. In the above photo of Gfriend, the physical differences between the girls are less obvious, because each girl has a subtly different clothing choice, that has been altered to homogenise their appearance while still effectively giving all girls the same “look”. Neckline choice is a big part of this evening-out process.
Fans of Blackpink will know that Jennie is the bustiest member of the group, followed by Jisoo, and then Rosé and Lisa. However in the above photo of Blackpink, all four members look about the same in boob volume – in fact, if you’re not familiar with what the Blackpink girls look like, and I told you “Jennie is the bustiest member of Blackpink, followed by Jisoo, and then Rosé and Lisa”, you may not be able to confidently identify who is who in the photo above unless you keep reading. The equilibrium in volume has been achieved with neckline selection. Rose and Lisa both have very high necklines, Jisoo’s top has only a tiny bit more skin exposure, whereas Jennie wears an off-the-shoulder top which has the effect of creating a large horizontal line above her chest that controls the perception of volume below it, much like the ovals did for the stars in the diagram earlier. As a result, the broadly homogenous look is achieved.
The same effect is present in this second photo of Blackpink and once again approximately equal bustiness levels are achieved, although in this case the aggregate apparent boob volume is larger due to clothes with a tighter fit and more accesorisation. Clever use of necklines and fashion choices in photos like this is probably the main reason why people keep suggesting very non-busty women for my boobs posts, and then become surprised by my reaction when I decline to include them. The right clothing and neckline choice can make a big impact in this area and can fool many people!
Here’s a picture of Twice, who like Girls’ Generation, have one member in particular who is known for bustiness, and that’s Jihyo. You’ll notice that Jihyo is the only member who is wearing a neckline that isn’t high. One might assume that giving Jihyo the lowest neckline is a way for the photographer to show off her boobs, but the neckline doesn’t go down anywhere near that far, so we know this isn’t true. The real reason for Jihyo’s outfit is actually the opposite to what one might think – rather than trying to enhance her boobs, the plan here is to reduce her apparent volume compared to the other girls in the shot, so the look of all the girls as a group remains reasonably consistent with each other.
In this second picture of Twice once again we can see that the bustier members get more skin exposure and lower/wider necklines than the rest. Once again no cleavage is in view so it’s not really a case of showing off anything, but rather a way to equalise volume between members.
Back to Gfriend and here they are also wearing “similar but not the same” clothing. Apparent boob volume in this photograph seems to be relatively high for the group, and once again this is due to high necklines across the board. Small accessorisation with bows and frills around the neckline also enhances volume here.
In the above photo, Oh My Girl are showcasing exceptionally detailed outfits and once again very high necklines for all members, which means lots of volume enhancement as well as general confusion for the eye. There’s so much colour and detail going on in the above photograph that it’s hard to focus on any one thing.
On the opposite end of the scale are girl groups where the members need no enhancement. Are Pocket Girls really that much bustier than the other groups in this post, or is it just the effect of the plunging cleavage of those outfits?
Here’s a rare photo which shows Pocket Girls dressed in a more casual style commonly associated with k-pop groups on the less racy end of the spectrum. As you can see, they still look voluminous here – which proves that while low necklines may be visually appealing to many, they do not enhance volume, even if they show actual cleavage.
This post wouldn’t be complete without a quick look at Nayeon’s softly-wrapped red cardigan:
The photoshopping of the heart-shaped hole doesn’t really make any difference to the volume, and if anything Nayeon looks slightly less busty in the left photo because the visibility provided by the apeture makes it more evident that her firm breast is not filling up the entire space underneath the jumper. I guess all that wrapping it softly was in vain.
So to summarise:
- high necklines increase volume, low necklines decrease
- accessorise the neckline area for more apparent curve
- if you’re going to stand next to someone with better boobs than you and get your photo taken, wear something better than them
That’s all for this post! Kpopalypse will return soon with more postings!