Low-rise is back to the hand-wringing and pearl-clutching of mom-jean enthusiasts everywhere. The trend was originally introduced several decades ago and was quickly popularized by the purveyors of washboard abs. Gradually, it grew to become increasingly intense. Crop tops became croppier and jeans were cut lower —but no one committed to the style quite like ’00s ‘It’-girl Keira Knightley.
The actress starred in a string of blockbusters and box office hits during this period, from the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise to Atonement, Love Actually, Pride & Prejudice, and so much more. This meant Knightley was gracing red carpets all over the world, and almost every time she appeared publicly, so did her stomach.
And it was a great one. Adorned with a single, silver bellybutton bar, Knightley’s stomach might have once been one of the most-recognized in the world. It was showed-off to varying degrees and various means: waist-grazing necklines, barely-below-the-breast tops, sheer-paneled lingerie.
Today, as Knightley turns 34, we’ve compiled her most-daring, mid-drift-revealing outfits ever.
1. Cow-Neck Rodeo
In case you were worried your intended look for the next night out is a little too risqué, just pull up this picture and pause to collect inspiration from the below-the-belly-button cow-neck that would put J. Lo’s Versace to shame. Now this is the way to do a headshot.
2. Underwear As Outerwear
While this is not a significant amount of mid-drift by Knightley standards, it doesn’t make it any less of a qualifier. Besides, she was lightyears ahead of her time with that cinched maxi vest.
3. Woodland Nymph Chic
Again, a subtler look from the actress, merely featuring the sternum—this is a dress you could take home to mom.
4. Studio 54 Forever
5. From The Field To The Dance Floor
Bend It Like Beckham was the surprise hit of 2002, and it saw Knightley take on sportswear with true finesse. Nonetheless, her metamorphosis from Adidas crop top to chainmail bandana top (resurrected recently by the likes of British brand Poster Girl), was one for the books.
6. Queen Of The Night
7. Full Monty
This is one of the most famous red carpet looks of all time: the extremely low bootleg jean in a darker wash strikes a stark contrast to the bandage, off-the-shoulder crop top with a slight train and a chunky pearl necklace. Knightley no doubt felt she could take bigger risks at the Pirates‘ premiere, and it paid off.