What to Know Before Wearing a Cutout Dress, Courtesy of Cushnie et Ochs

Cushnie et Ochs is known for their sexy-but-sophisticated designs that bridge the gap between steamy (hello, cutout dresses!) and completely elegant. An anomaly in a sea of cutout dresses, surely. So when I got to chat with designers Carly Cushnie and Michelle Ochs before they presented their spring 2015 lineup on Saturday, I needed to know their secret: How do you pull off a cutout dress and still look sophisticated? They shared that and more, read on!

“Don’t do it all,” commands Michelle. “If you’re going to show some skin up top, make sure the length [is longer]. You don’t want to have everything and the kitchen sink. It’s about balance.

Adds Carlie: “Focus on one area…if you’ve got a low neckline or a side cutout, tone down the rest. At the end of the day, just feel confident in it. It’s the worst to have a woman fidget and feel like she needs to hide something. Just be confident and comfortable.”

Another trend that sometimes gets a bad rap: the crop top. They are elegant says Michelle (and us): ” We’ve been doing [crop tops] since our first collection and we’re excited it’s becoming acceptable.”

One thing they’re less than stoked about: sneakers worn with formal dresses.”We’re getting further down that line and [soon] we’re going to be showing sweatpants on the runway and nothing else!” says Carlie. “I love Lululemon like everybody else, but at the same time, there’s nothing better than getting dressed up and having some sexy heels on.” Says Michelle, “[You can’t wear sneakers with a fancy dress] all the time, but when you do it, do it! You’re losing this element of getting dressed and that’s the fun part.”

Michelle Ochs and Carly Cushnie on Saturday

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