Olivia Rodrigo Coachella Bra Straps: Why It’s More Than Just a Red Bra

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Olivia Rodrigo’s tank top and red bra at Coachella wasn’t just an outfit, it’s a reclamation.

In a turn of events that has millennials shaking, it’s official: Exposed bra straps and layered tank tops are back. On April 13, pop sensation Olivia Rodrigo performed at Coachella, joining No Doubt for their first performance in almost 10 years. The Guts singer belted out the band’s ska punk classic “Bathwater” and paid homage to both lead singer Gwen Stefani and the band’s Y2K punk rock aesthetic while doing it, taking the stage in a white tank top and bright red bra.

And Rodrigo made more than just a nostalgic fashion statement with her bedazzled crimson bra straps.

Whether intentional or not, Rodrigo’s fashion choice was a reclamation of women’s bodies against the still persisting politics around them and just what is “appropriate” to wear. If it feels like a bit of a stretch, it actually isn’t. Here’s why.

To be clear, Rodrigo is far from the first celeb to don exposed bra straps. While Sex and the City’s Carrie Bradshaw may have been one of the first to do it in pop culture (and make it fashion), the trend was a staple for millennials in middle and high school. We layered our American Eagle and Bluenotes ribbed tanks to perfection, oft letting our La Senza Girl (or Victoria’s Secret if your mom was a cool mom) bra straps peek out, screaming: “I am a young woman!!”

A tank top with exposed straps was a sartorial rite of passage for many young folks. But the style also often met with judgement and stereotyping from those outside the tween and teen girl demographic.

For decades, the bodies of young women have been policed by inherently patriarchal institutions and a society that continues to sexualize women’s bodies without their consent. And for many of us, exposed bra straps or spaghetti strap tank tops at school was a way of stepping into our young womanhood that was often chastised for being “too revealing” or “inappropriate.” (Never mind the fact that bra straps are an essential clothing item, like socks, which no one clutches their pearls over if they show. But I digress.)

The notion that prominent bra straps are scandalous implies, of course, that showing one’s bra straps or “too much” skin is distracting to male students and inappropriate, and therefore the female body as a whole is inappropriate. It’s something that was an issue as recently as 2018 and is, frankly, a load of BS.

And while elder millennials may have long since graduated high school, women’s bodies (especially those of BIPOC women) continue to be sexualized and policed. Just look at the recent treatment of actress Sydney Sweeney. Since breaking out in 2019 as Cassie on HBO’s Euphoria, Sweeney has been a hot topic of conversation for both the size of her talent and… her chest. Eye roll.

Despite her acting skills, Sweeney has been consistently critiqued and over-sexualized for something that’s simply part of her anatomy and has no bearing on her ability to do her job. If she wears a low-cut top with thin straps, she’s a harlot; if she wears a turtleneck, she’s dowdy and attempting to be taken too seriously. It’s a lose-lose situation, and it’s tiring.

There have been other moments of pushback against this kind of policing of women’s bodies through fashion in recent years. In October 2023, Kim Kardashian’s brand Skims launched the now-viral Skims Nipple Bra, which features, you guessed it, two very perky nipples that create the illusion the wearer is braless. While some questioned the bras when they first launched, they’ve since gone on for some to become a symbol of reclaiming control and bodily autonomy from the male gaze.

And now, the 2024 return of exposed bra straps. In addition to Rodrigo, Kim Kardashian has taken to the exposed straps trend, most recently sporting layered tanks (*screams in millennial*) while in Paris for fashion week in March.

Brands like Reformation have also taken Rodrigo’s bra strap-exposing dressing to a new, somewhat retro level, releasing undergarment-inspired linen dresses, tops and bathing suits for spring. And gen Z TikTokers have been following suit, turning to the tank layering trend on social media (and falsely claiming they invented it — sorry pals, millennials were here first!). It’s gone mainstream, and it’s not that big of a deal.

And that’s really how it should be. By baring their bra straps, stars like Rodrigo, brands like Reformation and fashion girlies are helping de-stigmatize deep-rooted stereotypes people have about them, and by extension about women’s bodies. Not bad for a red bra, huh?

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Scoop Sky is a blog with all the enjoyable information on many subjects, including fitness and health, technology, fashion, entertainment, dating and relationships, beauty and make-up, sports and many more.

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