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You don’t have to flip through a fashion magazine to see that dresses and tops with cutouts that show sexy little glimpses of skin are one of this year’s hottest fashion trends. Just look around at the next special event you attend — there’s likely to be at least one person showing off the style.

It looks like the trend will be here for a while.

“Cutouts started gaining popularity on the 2013 spring/summer fashion runways,” says Sonya Barnes of Charlotte, N.C., and CEO and founder of Harris & Barnes image consultants. “This season, labels including Akris, Burberry, Chloe and Carven are taking it to the next level.”

Actress Lupita Nyong’o looked stunning in a Calvin Klein Collection gown with cutouts at the waist that she wore to the 2014 Critics’ Choice Awards. Model Daria Werbowy smolders on the February cover of Harper’s Bazaar in a Proenza Schouler dress with a cutout that gives a peek of her sleek stomach. Actress Freida Pinto also flashed her abs in a spring look from Michael Kors from the front row of the designer’s recent show in New York.

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Barnes says that wearing cutouts takes a certain amount of confidence and attitude. “Fashion is about fun and self-expression, so give it a try,” she says.

But, she warned, you need to be fit and you have to make sure the fit is right. If you’re toned but it’s too tight, the danger of muffin top looms. Be sure to sit and view yourself from all sides before deciding whether the look is right for you.

If you feel you can’t pull off a cutout on your waist, stomach or back, Barnes suggests trying a top with small cutouts at the shoulders or neckline.

At a recent fashion show fundraiser at Neiman Marcus in Charlotte for the Mint Museum, Mia Benoit stood out in a maxi dress from Tibi with a triangular cutout on the back.

Since then, she’s purchased another cutout dress, along with a shoulder cutout blouse, she said.

Benoit, who was Miss Illinois USA in 2007 and is founder of The Benoit Agency, a talent and personal development firm, says she’s fallen in love with the trend because it’s the perfect way to show a little skin while still being classy.

“I think it’s popular because it makes women feel very feminine and sexy,” says Benoit. “Each time I wear one of the cutout dresses, I get stopped by strangers wanting to know where they can get one, too. Cutouts are an easy way to instantly take a simple outfit from regular to fun and fabulous.”

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