2013 Was The Year The Stars Went Shirtless

No shirt, no problem.
Photos: @nickiminaj’s Isntagram/Teen Vogue/@mileycyrus’s Instagram

Wanna know what your favorite pop stars WON’T be putting on their Christmas lists this year? Shirts. Why? Because they hate them. JK! Hate is a strong word. They just prefer not to wear them all the time. And based on the way some celebs have been stripping down recently, going sans shirt isn’t just for the beach anymore—it’s a full-blown, anytime trend.

“Once, in the long-gone Mad Men days, it was considered de rigueur for New Yorkers to wear a hat and gloves in town,” wrote Guy Trebay in a New York Times column last July, commenting on widespread shirtlessness. “Now dress codes have devolved to the point where folks wear fleecy slippers on the subway, flip-flops to the ballet, running tights for every occasion, repurposed pajamas as daywear and, recently, very little at all.” First of all, what’s wrong with wearing running tights for every occasion? Second, people are wearing flip-flops to the ballet?! Now THAT is cray. I feel much less embarrassed about showing off my new hamburger-shaped pasties at work. KIDDING, of course. Because much like the curtain skirt, walking around without a shirt is definitely a celebrity-centric trend that’s best left to the professionals. Let’s take a look to see how they’ve tackled it this year, shall we?

Shirts? PSH.
Photos: ’Elle’ UK/Getty Images/@nickiminaj’s Instagram/@mariahcarey’s Instagram

Believe it or not, it’s 100% legal for females in New York to walk around topless. (It’s meant to ~encourage gender equality~ in public spaces.) So while seeing someone like Rihanna out shopping in Soho wearing only a top-buttoned letterman jacket may seem a little salacious, she’s barely even pushing the envelope by the city’s standards. I mean, come on! This is the home of the Naked Cowboy, after all. (He’s not really naked, FYI. He wears tighty whities.)

It is, however, pushing the envelope when it comes to sartorial trends. Seeing topless models on catwalks and in high-fashion magazine editorials is nothing new—but seeing a star go without a shirt on the street? That’s just a nip slip waiting to happen. In addition to Rihanna, the other stars on #TeamShirtless this year (like Miley Cyrus, Nicki Minaj, and Mariah Carey) have also chosen to use outerwear as only-wear, opting to go sans shirt under garments like tuxedo jackets, blazers, and cropped leather vests. Bear in mind that these are some of the same celebs who are often seen without pants. (Or, in the case of Miley’s recent performances, rarely seen WITH pants.) Taking the topless law to the limit definitely isn’t out of the question.

Pastie party!
Photso: Getty Images/@nickiminaj’s Instagram

Another way stars embraced the shirtless trend this year was with pasties. Turns out they’re not just for burlesque shows anymore! PHEW. I’ve been waiting SO LONG for the rest of the world to catch on to adhesive aerola covers, haven’t you? I mean, look at all the different shapes and sizes they come in! Even better, they’re totally versatile. In September, Miley Cyrus wore a circular black pair under a long sleeve mesh dress to perform at the iHeartRadio festival and some star-shaped ones with tattered jeans and a white crop top for her Bangerz release party. Do you know any other accessory that can transition from work to play so seamlessly?

Then there’s Nicki Minaj, also a big fan of pasties. Her Minajesty prefers a less-is-more approach to the trend (*ACHEM* the trend where less is already way less than what everyone else is wearing, BTW). Remember the time she showed off a pair of purple, star-shaped, leopard-print pasties wearing nothing but several layers of gold chains? I still can’t decide which accessory was more impressive. Later in the same month, Nicki wore a pair of simple black plus-shaped pasties for her Halloween costume, which appeared to be a cross between a police officer and a dominatrix.

The boys are in on the trend.
Photo: @austinmahone’s Instagram/@justinbieber’s Instagram/@maxthewanted’s Instagram

It’s super important to note that this year’s rampant shirtless trend was not relegated to the ladies either. Except sadly (for them, not us), there’s really only one way to wear it: straight-up total toplessness. Sure, it’s not like seeing guys without their shirts on is anything new, so long as you’re at the pool or whatever. But it seems like in 2013, guys went out of their way to make sure we got a good hard look at their (often rock-hard) abs. We’re not complaining.

Take teenage cutie Austin Mahone and Max George from The Wanted, for example. Both dudes flexed their stomachs for shirtless pics to remind us that in between singing, dancing, touring, and sleeping, they also manage to work on their fitness (#overachievers). And sure, their abs are great and all, but the most crucial part of the shirtless dude selfie is the underwear band. It’s suggestive and a throwback to the ’90s.

Of course, you can’t talk about shirtlessness in 2013 without Justin Bieber, and speaking specifically to the underwear-band criteria, Biebs is a PRO. Just look at his form on that Segway! Even with a vehicular object blocking us from a clear view, he made sure to angle his body (and flex his abs) in such a way that allows us to check out his manties. Then again, the Biebs is pretty much a pro at being shirtless 24/7, so we’re not really surprised by his exceptional underwear-band aptitude.

The shirtless videos of 2013.
Photos: RCA Records/Island Def Jam Records/Star Trak/Def Jam Records/

The topless trend infiltrated our streets, our magazines, our Instagram feeds, and, perhaps most glaringly, our favorite music videos. Some of the biggest bangers and most iconic visuals of the year featured topless (and, yes, sometimes fully naked) ladies: Miley Cyrus’ “Wrecking Ball,” Rihanna’s “Stay,” Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines,” Justin Timberlake’s “Tunnel Vision” and Kanye West’s “Bound 2.” Not to be overlooked, CGI Yeezy also took off his shirt for the “Black Skinhead” video, and (OF COURSE) Bieber had a shirtless, pelvis-thrusting moment in “All That Matters.” Here’s to whatever trends lie in store for 2014, which we’re guessing will be either unabashed nudity OR the opposite end of the spectrum: COMPLETELY CONSERVATIVE DRESS. “Skin is so 2013, amirite?” —Future People.

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