G-strings… Remember them? They were an essential part of the noughties wardrobe, a vital yet teeny-tiny pillar of the support system in which our low-slung (probably laced-up) jeans could thrive, our handkerchief tops could be cut high to reveal plenty of stomach and hip, and our tight-fitting double-mesh dresses from Morgan could be as slinky as possible. The all-important thong rose to fashion fame partly out of necessity, but it was also a signifier of coolness—so much so that an exposed one (aka a "whale tail" as it was coined back then) was something to be proud of. The look was so desirable that key lingerie brands such as Gossard even created versions with little diamanté trims for the very purpose of them being seen.
It was a raunchy time for celebrity style—Christina Aguilera's chaps, Britney Spears's crystal bodysuits, and the many see-through dresses of British glamour girls—and the look did filter into the mainstream, albeit a slightly softer incarnation. But then, the inevitable trend buck came, and lingerie spun a 180º to revert back to bigger pants and more practical, comfortable options. To this day, VPLs are still not the sacrilegious faux pas they once were, and our butts are all the happier for it.
But something unusual is afoot in the world of fashion. It looks like G-strings are back on the horizon in myriad forms and are already being adopted by A-listers, high-fashion designers, and influencers alike. This time, however, there's a significant difference: Many of the thongs we've noticed around the internet are actually attached to the clothes featured. It's like a sassy sibling to cut-out dresses, only you'll find the look across trousers, skirts, and jeans, too. It seems to be the absolute antithesis of the uniform we've come to adopt over the past year (trackies, puffer, chunky boots), but perhaps, that's the very reason this small tweak is taking off big time.
It's a design detail that certainly divides opinion, but with high-profile brands such as Givenchy and Versace backing the look for spring/summer 2021 and the idea already cropping up on our IG feeds, it would appear that stylish women across the globe are willing to give it a go. Hailey Bieber and Dua Lipa are two notable fans, but this isn't a trend reserved only for the rich and famous. Fashion insiders are keen to go there, too—take Camille Charriere's very elegant option of string-detailed trousers from Nensi Dojaka with a ribbed knit and Chanel bag. This particular pair of pants signals the fact that even more iterations are actually coming through from up-and-coming or cult-followed indie brands such as Surface TV, Dion Lee, and Supriya Lele, meaning the trend is reaching far and wide when it comes to its potential adopters.
While I personally find myself recoiling away from the look, Lauren Eggertsen, Who What Wear's senior fashion editor in the US, has been charting its rise for a few months now and feels compelled to experiment. "I love any trend that really pushes the boundaries and gets people talking. Therefore, I am all about this new thong movement," she tells me. "I will admit I was a little bit shocked to see how quickly it manifested amongst the influencer and celebrity crowd. This trend really is just a small detail tacked onto a garment, but it's one that speaks volumes, and that's why I love it."
When we crowdsourced a response from our followers on Instagram last week, over 2000 readers responded with their initials thoughts on this controversial trend. The verdict wasn't entirely clear-cut, but an overwhelming 89% were not for the idea this spring.
Should you be one of the 11% who are interested, Lauren has some styling advice for you: "I really think it will come down to the garment. I love the idea of wearing a dress with this trend incorporated into it for a more formal occasion like Dua Lipa, but I also fancy a casual pants version with a baby tee and Converse."
Scroll to see how the trend is shaping up for 2021, but keep going for a trip down memory lane to see how the look was worn back in the noughties.
How the G-String Trend Looks in 2021
Kim Kardashian West wearing a thong-detailed dress from Givenchy fashioned by its new creative director, Matthew Williams.
For spring/summer 2021, Versace's beachy collection sliced up its black dresses and skirts to feature cut-out sides.
Hailey Bieber was onto this trend perhaps before the rest of the world, wearing this naughty-nice pink gown to the Met Gala in 2019.
Dua Lipa is the most recent star to hop aboard the thong train, choosing this "naked" black dress for a recent holiday.
Model Bella Coheen takes a matchy-matchy approach with her triangle top.
We've noticed a correlating offshoot of this trend for wearing high-cut bodysuits or high-cut knickers with low-slung bottoms. Model Duckie Thot is often first onto a trend, so consider this a heads up.
This all-leather look from Dion Lee's S/S 21 collection manages to be casual yet entirely provocative all at once.
Here's Hailey again, this time trying out a different idea for size. What better way to make a baggy tracksuit stand out, hey?
Lizzo is the queen of many things, but she's also consistently leading the way for radical fashion trends. Her black criss-cross number is the kind of cut-out-style dress I've seen more and more of over the past few months.
Actress Alexa Demie playing peekaboo in a snake-print number back in 2019.
What the Thong Trend Was Like in the Noughties
Halle Berry's criss-crossed pink and red mini was the perfect look-at-me choice for an event like the MTV Movie Awards. Classic 2000s.
Britney Spears's hip-grazing trousers often featured little cut-out details like this.
Ah, the halcyon days of Jordan and Peter! Many a star opted for see-through frocks around this time—it was a sure-fire way to get noticed and a perfect canvas for a trending thong.
It's 2002, and Bai Ling is wearing all the hallmarks of a noughties outfit, including the number one shoe choice, cowboy boots.
Tara Palmer-Tomkinson's It-girl ensembles always left an impact.
Model Patricia Clauson promoting Gossard's decorative G-string collection—a fairly clear reminder of how far we've come in terms of PR stunts and advertising since 2005…
Kate Hudson's see-through, low-cut dress certainly required minimal underpinnings. This is from 2005, but I could imagine this on the red carpets of tomorrow.
Rihanna allowing that red lace to do all the talking for this outfit in 2005—a year in which this trend appeared to reach its peak.
Next up, See more of the year's top (and easier) trends here.
Hannah Almassi is the editor in chief of Who What Wear UK. Hannah has been part of the the Who What Wear brand since 2015, when she was hired to launch a UK sister site and social channels, localise content strategy and build out the editorial team. She joined following a seven-year tenure at Grazia magazine, where she led front-of-book news, fashion features and shopping specials as fashion news and features editor. With experience in both print and digital across fashion and beauty, Hannah has over 15 years in the field as a journalist, editor, content strategist and brand consultant. Hannah has interviewed industry heavyweights such as designers including Marc Jacobs and Jonathan Anderson through to arbiters of taste including Katie Grand and Anna Dello Russo. A skilled moderator and lecturer specialising in the shift to digital media and e-commerce, Hannah’s opinion and work has been sought by the likes of CNBC, BBC, The Sunday Times Style, The Times and MatchesFashion.com, among many others.
Hannah currently resides in Eastbourne with her photographer husband, incredibly busy toddler and highly Instagrammable cat.
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