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Apr 25, 2013

Exposed Zipper Dresses -- YEA or NAY?



Zippers, zippers, everywhere.  Parenthetically, friends, is your fly open?

I recently asked our MBP research staff to find the origin of the exposed zipper dress trend.  This is the best they could come up with:

2009:



2012:



Basically, this trend has been around a while -- but longer than you (may) think!  Flagrantly exposed zippers show up on many 1930's dress patterns.  Zippers (often referred to "slide fasteners") were truly something special back then.






Is the contemporary exposed zipper dress a fad in your opinion, or has it established itself as just another style option, despite its contemporary pretensions to looking edgy, rocker-chic, badass, etc?

Contemporary exposed zipper dresses come in various styles, of course.  There are front zippers...







"I AM smiling!"

Back zippers... (Is it wrong to want the tape to match the fashion fabric?)









Horizontal zippers...







Even shoulder zippers!  (I saw Suzanne's ponte knit dress below in person and it's lovely.)



In short, there's no "wrong" when it comes to exposed zipper placement.  Or is there?


Readers, I ask you:

Are you tired of people flaunting metallic closures like it was jewelry?

Does the sight of yet another wavy zipper tape stitched to a stretch knit sheath dress leave you raging inside?

Is it time to send the exposed zipper back to the world of windbreakers and hooded sweatshirts?

Exposed zipper dresses -- YEA or NAY?

84 comments:

  1. I LOVE exposed zippers. I haven't made anything with one, so thanks for the reminder!

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  2. YEA. I just posted (yet another) dress with an exposed zipper. I just love the graphic pow it adds to a simple dress but to be honest.... I will probably take a break from the pow for a bit. Start messing with some traditional or dare I, lapped zips. But I still love the look, even if I may be need a little break from the trend.

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    Replies
    1. You inspired today's post, my friend!

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    2. Heather Lou turned me on to exposed zippers and I used one for the first time this year in a self-drafted skirt. I'm surprised that this trend has been around since the 30s, but I too have a couple of 30s patterns which showcase exposed zips. Nothing is original anymore is it?!?

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  3. I like them. Your blog photos made me appreciate the lines they draw on the clothing they're on even more.

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  4. I think exposed zippers, when done correctly, can be a fun design element just like any other. But I find that lately I've seen exposed zippers on every trashy, cheap party dress I've come across, which has turned me off of them a bit. I'm not against the exposed zipper itself, just the misuse of it. It's time to stop zipper abuse!!

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  5. I think that an exposed zip can be a great design feature, though the thing where you sew on just one half of a zip as decoration rather foxes me.

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  6. As a general rule, I dislike them and have hopes they'll die out soon,since Project Runway just pronounced them "outdated".

    That said, sometimes I DO like them. I DO sometimes like contrasting tape. I especially like exposed zips in unexpected applications, like the shoulder zip or diagonal placement.

    I guess I basically agree with thimbleandcork!

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  7. Nay. Nay, Nay, Nay. I have hated them from Day One and I can't wait until they have left the mainstream consciousness.

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  8. It depends on how they're done. Those done so the zipper edges are sewn into the garment, I like. Most of those that are just set on top of the garment and sewn down look like they forgot to put the zipper in and this is the attempt to recover without re-doing. Or a repair job.

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  9. As far as home-sewing I hate zippers more than I hate buttons. An exposed zipper would have to be perfect, and I'm not up to that standard. As far as RTW, I don't mind the look of exposed zippers, per se, but the style of clothing that exposed zippers seem to belong to is not my style. And it seems a bit trendy.

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  10. I like them in moderation, such as in the half zip up the back of a J. Crew top I bought last year. Please not over the nipples, though! I am in pain just looking at the nip zip picture you posted.

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  11. Hmm I don't think I could wear an exposed zip on the front, I can't keep my hands still so would probably end up unzipping myself whilst lost in thought ... could be dangerous. But otherwise they're fine, don't think I own any though.

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  12. SeamsterEast@aol.comApril 25, 2013 at 9:29 AM

    Exposed zippers, especially the heavy zippers, are a none too subtle invitation for someone to pull it open, and do so soon.

    In my youth there was something called "drive in pants", pants with a zipper on each leg starting at the waist and running down roughly the crease line of the leg.

    I have twice -- 15 years apart -- seen shapely young women wearing tight denim pants with a wide, heavy metal zipper running from the back center waist down around and back up to the front center waist, an open ring dangling from the zipper pull. Because of the snug individual fit and the style (with limited commercial appeal), the pants were almost certainly custom made.

    Exposed, wide, heavy zippers are a blunt invitation to pull them open, with the right person of course [grin]. Sometimes young people can be blunt in their urgencies.

    Me, I tend to prefer a bit of subtlety. Still, I not long ago saw a woman "of a certain age" on a NYC subway with obviously self-designed jeans (legs were not pegged at all, no pockets, no back yoke) with heavy metal zippers each side running down the outside hip/leg lines. A rather interesting effect.

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  13. NAY! Especially the "wavy zipper tape stitched to a stretch knit sheath dress." UGH. They work a little better on less fitted garments and in less curvy locations. I don't mind them nearly as much in the front, probably because those are more reminiscent of the zippers on hoodies and jackets. Same with the horizontal zippers on a moto-style jacket.

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  14. NAY all the way! I don't like them, won't wear them, won't sew them. The sooner this trend is over, the better.

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    Replies
    1. Agreed. I'm so over this trend and so disappointed every time I find an otherwise nice garment with an exposed zipper, especially on work clothes where I think its just inappropriate.

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  15. It all depends how it is done and how well the exposed zipper goes with the garment style.

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  16. Ill fitting rtw in general makes me rage inside

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  17. The market seems to be so entirely saturated with exposed zippers that it is time for the trend to be over. If one or two garments have an exposed zipper, it's a design element; for all dresses to come that way is just annoying. The tape in a contrasting color always seemed to me to be a nod toward the color-blocking trend, and since that also seems to be on the way "out" zipper tapes should at least match the garment, even if they are going to have the teeth showing.

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  18. i really like exposed zippers but they are often put on wrong:wrong fabric, wrong color zipper or wrong placement so i think it is a hit or miss when it comes to exposed zippers

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  19. Really like the look of the first image up top, with the large polka dots. Don't care much for the rest.

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  20. Nay! Too often they look lazy, not a thoughtful design element.
    I've blamed Victoria Beckham for making them so popular, after looking at your examples I think I'm mistaken.

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  21. It's hit or miss. I really think they can look great, but there is a way to do it, and not everyone has that figured out.

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  22. Nay! They look so sloppy and unfinished. I think zippers should be as well hidden as possible, unless they are on a leatehr jacket, in which case it's okay for the shiny metal teeth to show. But the zipper should still be sewn to the inside of the fabric.

    Please, please tell me that last one is meant for nursing. There can't possibly be any other reason for that zipper placement.

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    Replies
    1. Ooops. I spelled "leather" wrong.

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    2. Only if you can nurse through implants. ;)

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  23. NAY! Except for a few of the examples with the zipper placed at a diagonal (or possibly at the shoulder, though I am very doubtful about that), I severely LOATHE all of the above examples of exposed zippers. Blech!

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  24. Ugh, don't like them at all.

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  25. Nay. Ugly and distracting.

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  26. Not a fan. Wouldn't wear one in a dress because I can feel the zipper. They are either too heavy or they are not given any fabric behind it to block it from your skin. I've had that problem with small jackets with zippers. I don't want to feel the metal on my chest or stomach. I don't like the look of the exposed back zipper at all and horizontal zippers are best for leather jackets (looking for one at the moment!). I tried a shirt with shoulder zippers and it felt weird and they kept falling from the weight.
    It's too much of the weight/feel changer for me.

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  27. I'm in between as they can look great or they can look appalling. But I would probably go with yay as I've found myself looking at a lot dresses with them in recently but don't actually own any of my own. Interesting to learn this has been around since the 1930s.

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  28. @Kate Haxell, those half zippers are rick-rack in disguise.

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  29. I love exposed zips, I've never understood why the Project Runway judges hate them so. But I have to say, I do prefer an exposed zip that looks like it's a design feature (ie. front zip or at an angle...or angles....and I noticed Alicia on The Good Wife has had a few jackets and dresses with them at angles or in sleeves at the wrist, very stylish).

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  30. LOATHE. Ruins every garment for me.

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  31. Never never never. The invisible zipper is the height of elegant closures. I think exposed zippers make the garment look cheap, and often the wearer as well.

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  32. If execute extremely well then I like them. If not then meh. I think I own one little top I recently picked up from Target than I liked the color blocking of that happens to have a little exposed zip at the back. I ahve never worn it exposed though. Always with a jacket over

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  33. Use with caution it is all too easy for an exposed zipper to look cheap/trashy/hooker IMHO
    hugs
    G

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  34. Nay. Makes me think of a sleeping bag zipper or couch cushions.

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  35. (Not popular with the men, I notice.)

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    Replies
    1. Simplicity 3991 is really cute though. I know of a certain Ms C Lane who would look great in that number
      Hugs
      G

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  36. Another reader with mixed feelings about exposed zippers. I've seen a few that are really well done, while most...let's just say that they should not have been done!

    I rather like the exposed zipper treatment in this post from http://agoodwardrobe.com/2012/08/13/mixed-metals-dress/. Add a jacket and no one will know the difference (office appropriate). Remove the jacket and it's a subtle, fun, young look!


    Taja

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  37. There are so many more attractive alternatives...

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  38. A hearty NAY. I am going to cheer when this fad is over and done.

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  39. Too many comments to read, and sorry if I'm repeating anyone, but Elsa Schiaparelli is generally credited with the first popular use of exposed zippers in a garment. Then, it was considered innovative.

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  40. It depends on the garment. Mixed with frills like the first example, a definite nay. But in a more structured garment I like them, but I'm tired of them as accents for the ass.

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  41. One word -- "Ick!"

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  42. Exposed Zip? known in locale as the Slut zip - say no more!

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  43. Nay? Ha! How about: Hate. Loathe. Despise.

    Mostly it's because slapping an exposed zip on something does not make it a design element. It CAN be a well-thought out part of the design, but 99% of the time, it just looks like Anya from Project Runway forgot to put an opening in, didn't know how to sew a zip and just glued it to the outside. I can't wait 'til this trend is over.

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  44. I like exposed zips when the zipper tape matches the self fabric. Like any design feature it can be done well or not...I like your second and fourth examples....it think the exposed zip adds some visual interest, and makes it more casual.

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  45. Exposed zippers are for those too lazy to do it right.

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  46. Ugly!

    The only place where I like them is fleece jackets.. easy to take off and looks ncie as well!

    Of all the images you shown above, I like one - the asymmetrical sleeveless jacket with notched collar and lapels. It IS a design element there! Everywhere else it's just an eye sore...

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  47. Didn't like exposed zips when I first became aware of them, but now I'm sort of used to seeing them in the little asian clothing boutiques in my local shopping centre.
    What I wouldn't mind seeing more of, however, is diamante zips - you know the ones, where the teeth are made up of diamantes. I haven't yet found a local supplier for these, but if I did, I'd certainly be finding an occasion to make something that featured the zip placement!

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    Replies
    1. I don't know how local this is, but I've had really good service here...
      http://www.zipperstop.com/index.php?option=com_virtuemart&page=shop.browse&category_id=9&Itemid=73

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  48. I like them. Done well, they are a nice steampunky wink.

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  49. Exposed zippers on dresses? Eewwww! And that's all I have to say about that.

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  50. Maybe I am just too old, but they just do look like you didn't know how to do it the right way. Maybe on jackets where they are set in and the edge of the zipper is behind the fabric, but the zipper on the outside with all those edges showing? Nope.

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    Replies
    1. I have to agree. I mainly mind the ones that don't match, like the black zipper on the red dress. I'm just not a fan.

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  51. I like them when the lines of the garment and the fabric read "tough," "industrial," "modern," "minimal"or some combination. Also, the zipper tape color should match the fabric. Don't like on garments made from soft fabrics with floaty tiers or ruffles. They just look stuck on for no reason except it's "trendy" which to me just seems lazy.

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  52. Didja know that exposed BUTTONS were once seen as "trashy" because they made the person look too "accessible". Coloured underwear for women was "scandalous" because it was too obviously meant to be SEEN. Horrors!

    Exposed zippers is a design feature that has certainly been overdone in the last while; the whole 'deconstructed" thing is a not particularly subtle means of fobbing off poorly finished clothing on the public by making it 'trendy" and "artsy-fartsy"-sounding. I remember being told that at sales conventions, as part of the events they hold contests to see who can come up with a pitch to "sell the unsaleable"-such as a half-eaten bowl of spaghetti! The same selling principle applies: to convince the public that "deconstructed"( i.e.half-finished or poorly-finished) clothes are 'trendy" and 'the latest thing'. It's also known as "pee on their heads and convince them it's RAIN."

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  53. Yes, I do like them on the right garments and the right design and structure.

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  54. I don't wear anything with an exposed zipper but I do like them. I haven't found much men's clothes with an exposed zipper so that may be why.

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  55. I don't mind them, usually on a plain coloured dress/ top.

    But nothing makes me angrier than a beautiful floral print vintage style dress with a big black zip down the back. It can really ruin a garment.
    In the same way this trend for cutting a hole out of the waist of your dress... no matter how many calories I count... I'm never going to feel comfortable showing a triangle of my stomach!

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  56. Tammy from VirginiaApril 26, 2013 at 5:08 AM

    I hate exposed zippers. Glad to see that I'm not alone!

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  57. The first example is not to my taste (in fact I think it looks like an awful sewing mistake) but most of the others are OK. I quite like the zipper as decoration look, no matter how dated it is becoming. In fact I am still waiting to find the right fabric to set off two very sweet little chunky zippers bought with a view to exposing them! I'm thinking they belong on the sleeves of a long sleeved top with contrasting piping under the zipper tape. That way everyone will know that I did them on purpose (unlike the first picture).

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  58. All I can say about exposed zippers is when they go out of fashion, they will be Way Out. They'll be screaming, "early 2010's" so I'm letting them pass me by. Why aren't they on pants and trousers. That would be interesting!

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  59. While we're complaining about trends, how about those truly horrendous platform ankle-breaker heels. I get the long-legged, sexy-in-stilletos thing, but what's beautiful about adding 2-3 inches under the ball of your foot?

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    Replies
    1. That was a few "Yea or Nays" ago.

      http://malepatternboldness.blogspot.com/2013/01/things-i-dont-get-vol-10-contemporary.html

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  60. I first remember exposed zippers as a "thing" when Seth Aaron was on Project Runway. What was that? Three? Four? Seasons ago? Season 7 is what Wikipedia says. Which would make it around 2009 when it was filmed. I'm "meh" about them. I like them ok if the tape coordinates somehow with the fabric/styling, but to slap a zipper on with no regard to the COLOR? Egads. What are they teaching the children these days?

    I've used one before (http://sphotos-a.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-prn1/46845_10200288075303161_2088733413_n.jpg) on a purse. Not sure I'd do it on clothing.

    Zippers are for me like undergarments. Meant to be worn but not seen.

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  61. I am not a fan of the current version, which seems to be a willy-nilly use of the unattractive, but functional zipper tape, not just the decorative use of exposing the zipper/zipper teeth. Your opening photo shows an inappropriate use of the exposed zipper. A heavy zipper tape on what appears to be a chiffon garment.

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  62. I have enough trouble with hidden zippers that I can't see myself ever installing an exposed zipper. That being said, I think they definitely have their time and place; when used correctly, I think they look kind of neat!

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  63. I've never done an exposed zip, but I'm thinking I should. I've just discovered my local op shop had a ton of zips for next to nothing, none of which are invisible. If it saves me a trip to Spotlight...then yay!

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  64. Wow. are you sure you don't watch Project Runway? Because Zac Posen demonstrated a serious case of ennui when an exposed zipper walked down the runway a couple of weeks ago, feigning a yawn and saying it was a tired look. I agree, mostly. I think that sometimes it provides great punch to a strong look.

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  65. They were a fad...let's move on now.

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  66. Teeth exposed on the right garment - yea (I don't even consider them to be exposed zips - just zips.). The whole zip on the outside of a garment - nay, nay, nay.

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  67. Pwah, most of the exposed zippers I see look like they have been sewed on by cousin It from the Addams family.
    It looks classy when done with precision and colours which complement each other.

    Cheap garments with the zipper sewn on the outside badly are just rank looking :(

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  68. I'm late to this party but I just discovered this blog. Everytime I see an exposed zipper down the back of a dress (usually on Project Runway) I wonder "Can you sit on that thing?!"

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  69. Personally, I love the exposed back zipper... But, I like it more on the back of slacks and jeans. In the late 80's and early 90's there were back zip slacks and jeans, and I wasn't sure they were for me, but I tried a pair and WOW!, were they ever flattering: especially with the smooth lines in the front, and they accentuated my rear. I only purchased two or three pair before they faded from style.

    In the early 2000's they showed up again on the back of capri pants. I grabbed all I could carry at the local fashion store. Then the Miss Sixty Nixie's came out in the late 2000's and again, I snatched every pair my pocketbook could afford. Sadly all of the capris and two pair of the Nixies have worn out. Now I'm on the hunt for casual pants and jeans that have the rear zip. I have a local seamstress who makes my work slacks, all with back zips, but they tend to be pricey. I wish they would come back into style as mass production seems to make things less expensive.

    Anyway, I'm glad that I found your blog, and the opportunity to share with you. I'll keep visiting your site for other fashion ideas and trends.

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  70. Exposed zippers ruin any piece of clothing they are put on. They look trashy and can make the nicest material and clothing item look cheap. There is nothing worse than seeing an AMAZING dress and turning it around to that horrendous exposed zipper. One of the #1 trends I can't wait to die out besides platform heels...girls look like they have hooves with those things on.

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