Creme de la Crop

Belly tops are back and I can finally have my Spice Girl moment



In the past 24 hours, I’ve counted over ten Resort Runway instances galvanizing the return of an exposed belly button. Frankly, I should have seen this resurgence coming. It has been exactly 11 years, 7 months, 3 days too long since I’ve last broached the topic of my belly, a shirt, and me, with my mother. And what with the 90s–an epoque choc full of exposed stomachs–staking a sufficient claim in the upper echelons of fashion, there was only so much intel and inspiration a series of grunge style plaids could deliver.

Sure, I’ve traced and followed my own attraction to wearing bras as tops (see: Monday’s CFDA awards) and cropped blouses over high waist pants and skirts (see: the photos chronicled here) in previous months, but with all that said and worn, could I now, at 24, ever really commit to the girl I wanted to be (see: Lisa “Left Eye” Lopez) 12 years ago? Wouldn’t that require an extensive, interminable ab workout? And perhaps most importantly, why wouldn’t my mom just let me do it then?

Some context: the belly shirts and the belly me was a very smart outfitting marriage I’d culled from a combination of The Spice Girls (isn’t an exposed belly button the ultimate emblem of Girl Power, anyway?), Destiny’s Child (what is an auto-mo-bill?), TLC (oh how I longed to chase waterfalls,) and just a few years later, Britney Spears (though this inspiration torch burnt out quickly). I knew I didn’t have the assets that these musicians-cum-athletes did to fill in or rather, empty out the glorified bikini tops but that didn’t really matter–and plus, at the time, I didn’t even really care if my mom were to buy me an actual belly top. I would have been wholly complacent snipping around at one of the pre-existing shirts, cob-webbing in my closet.

Come to think of it actually, I can remember precisely the black, short sleeve t-shirt I had in mind to chop. There was a small transparent plastic bag sewn into the center of the shirt at breast length. The bag contained three bright colored plastic letters that spelled out RAD. Had I been able to cut the shirt, maybe it could have lived up to its self-anointed hype.

But my point is this: my mom wouldn’t let me cut my shirt because it was inappropriate for me to expose my stomach. This, even in spite of my age (11) and the fact that several of my (far thinner) friends had been wearing their belly shirts proud. Natrually, I couldn’t–and likely still can’t–help chalk up the prohibition to the way in which I looked. While at 11 years-old, I wasn’t fat, I was just, as any other Gusher enthusiast/Dunkaroo connoisseur would be, charmingly chubby.

Now at 24, I’m still not particularly proud of the state of my stomach, I just don’t think about it much, either. I don’t really exercise and only ever experience that crunching stomach pain indigenous to the toning-process while I am laughing.

After admiring my favorite selections at Calvin Klein, Balenciaga and Theyskens’ Theory (photographed in order here) and recognizing–even maybe kind of a little appreciating–that I will never be Hanne-Gabby Odiele, it was high time that I give the belly shirt a try in a nod to current collections, during a time when my mom can no longer dictate the details of my duds.

Yesterday around 3PM, I pulled down my white pants, exposed my deep-ass inny and looked into a mirror. The funny thing about mirrors is that even though they’re supposed to reflect a black and white version of who you are, they never really do. Often it’s worse, but sometimes you get really lucky and even in spite of the wrinkle lines that appear from sitting, indentations care of your tight jeans, and orange juice fostered bloat, they reflect an even better version of you. If not because it’s actually better, than certainly because, come on, your 11-year-old self deserves to see you now.

I’m wearing a Viva Aviva crop top (I stand corrected–sometimes when it looks like a vagina, it’s not really couture. It’s just manipulated denim), Alexander Wang jeans, LK Bennett heels.

Photos via Google, Vogue, and

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  • Brittany

    ZOMG bby you look BANANAS! This is def one of my faves from you. Although I gotta call you out- this is so NOT repelling. You look straight up SEXY. I have been thinking lately about why I LOVE showing so much skin, and now I see that I have my 11-year-old role models to blame!


  • Look Sharp Sconnie

    Dayum. Killin me. I had this poster hanging in my room for years.

    Was also convinced that I needed accompanying Spice Girl carpeting.

    Maybe it’s time to live out that dream too…

  • smgiammo

    This is a great post. I too have been thinking of belly tops or crop tops lately. Not that I want to wear one these days (I had virtually no curves when I was 11), but I am the same age as you and back in the 90s/early 2000s I idolized Christina Aguilera and her belly-exposing outfits. My mom didn’t pay too much attention to what I wore, and I very vividly remember a blue floral racerback crop top that I had. I loved that thing. Much like other things that I thought were awesome when I was a kid, however, belly tops don’t have quite the same appeal to me now, so I’m actually gonna sit out on this trend. . .

  • Irene Laura
  • sisters go bananas

    love the shoes, you’re amazing

  • Orange juice fostered bloat. Finally someone who understands. The indentations from sitting all day. LOL. Yes, I love how you rocked the crop top!

  • Sacha

    My parents never told me “no, you cant wear that” to ANYTHING. I was chopping up my tees into crop tops, bedazzling the crap out of them and then parading around with my gut hanging out. I still have a photo of me next to Britney (my IDOL in 2000)- both in crop tops. Her middle is tan and toned, my pasty 12-year old belly is hanging over my pants. I thought I looked goooooood though.

  • if you look down and see your shoes, a crop top you should clearly choose. if you look down and see your gut, your choice should be anything but.


    ps. this outfit is bangin’. no rhymes, just real talk.

  • royal wang

    great post again,and you are funky iconic

  • Oh I wore lots of cropped tops in my 20’s and good for me, because my tummy was beautiful! After giving birth to twin baby girls, I have a shar pei look when I sit down, so I’ll just let this trend pass and I’ll watch younger girls enjoy it for me!

  • Style-Squared by Z&M

    Hahaha, awesome!!!

  • mulberry&melrose

    i love the throwback photos and your look is adorable! πŸ™‚

  • monkeyshines
  • joey
    • Jessica Penny

      My thoughts exactly!

  • Katerina

    I to have been wanting to try out the crop top, but no way in hell am I showing any midriff until those 6-pack babies decide they can finally stop shying around and pop the f out!

    On another note, you look great! Still in love with those pants πŸ˜‰

    • Leandra Medine

      NO! Don’t wait for those assholes. Just do it!

      • Katerina

        Haha!! Your’e so right!!! F*ck ’em! Going out to buy a crop top right now πŸ˜‰

  • Haha cool selection of photos ! I actually love your top, definitely a classy version of a crop top, but I’m not a big fan of the pants

  • I had a friend in high school that would always make fun of Christina Aguilera’s incessant need to wear crop tops by dryly saying “She just doesn’t have TIME to wear a whole shirt!”

    I’m glad to see that you’re holding it down for the rest of us. I have the “looks like I’m in my second trimester” bloat today (I’m not pregnant), so a crop top will not be in the cards for today. Gotta love that once-monthly reminder, and the crazy bloat that comes with it!

  • Well. P.

    i love cropped tops


  • kim

    goddamn those pants are cool.


  • MidCenturyMama

    What’s the feeling on this trend for over 40? Just ridiculous? OR…High waist pants/skirt and just show the top of the ribs just below the bra. Maybe with something sheer over the top if it’s just too much skin.

    Like my fellow mom in the comments section I need to keep that low belly area under wraps…having the baby wasn’t kind to the belly.

  • Nico
  • brunetteletters

    I’m going to buy a crop top this weekend!!

    Brunette Letters Blog

  • Charity Dawn

    Everyone should aspire to look as galavantingly gorgeous in a crop top as the man repeller. Im appreciating the more modern crop top opposed to the circa’ hit me baby one more time’ version. Sassy and classy . I love a crop top as well

  • Samantha Berkley

    Wow this white pant ( denim lace?) is really pretty. I like the shoes too.

  • Maria InΓͺs Ribeiro

    Amazing pants! So different!

  • Lauren

    That top!!! Amazing and you look great.

  • Somebody from Somewhere
  • ccmendez

    yeah chica, it’s all about el top

  • sketch42

    Your jean indentations are THE FUNNIEST.

  • suomi underground

    BELLISSIMA! I love love love the denim wings!

  • mom

    You look beautiful my princess… I can finally allow you to wear cropped tops

  • Lindsey

    I LOVE crop tops and love how they can be sexy but also still classy. And those are some crazy cut-out pants. Love it!


  • MDOT

    Like the top! And those super sexy, super everything shoes! You are wearing it well!


    More on cropped tops DOs & DONTs, checkout my blog:

  • Jules Fashion Week

    love the white crops !!

  • Jack

    love that crop top and that pant is the best!


    So cool!!! This post is very good πŸ™‚

  • Allison

    Leandra I think we would all really love it if you did tell us in a post what your diet is like.

    You always look so healthy and glow-y and I find it hard to believe that you aren’t chowing down on the kale. Seriously though, you must have some seriously good fuel for breakfast lunch and dinner to have such shiny hair. Please tell us your secret.

  • ashfabes

    How could you forget Gwen?!

  • Jasmine Alvarez

    I liveee!!! You look so fab! I always loved wearing “belly shirts” as a kid…I’m so glad they are making a comeback….

  • Hanna

    Cropped tops are just damn right sexy!

  • Erika

    Ummm…you look terrific, so I think your 11 yr old self would be QUITE proud!

  • NO! Please NO! I just pointed out that people should refrain from flaunting their bellies in public, it’s one of the most common summer wardrobe mistakes. Only wear a belly shirt if someone else, preferably a stranger, tells you you have a stomach worth flaunting (granted that abdominal affirmation will be an awkward conversation, but think of it as a right of passage).

  • Inbal R

    I did wear crop tops when I was 12, so maybe that’s the reason why I’m gonna just close my eyes and wait for this trend to blow over…because honestly, no one wants to see that (except for my boyfriend, maybe).

  • Paty

    Love your blog!

    I’m posting looks from Los Angeles and accessories:

  • the coattail effect

    haha at least you have an inny….

  • Restless Blonde

    I myself don’t have a belly good enough to show it ;] but I think that you look great! I need to have workout everyday! Great shoes btw!

  • Martine

    Adorable outfit. Really pretty and has a sort of weird sci fi 50’s Barbie vibe. I like the white trousers with the cut outs.

  • Martine

    I like exposing the upper part of my tummy. That seems sexy to me. But I like only the top part like you show. If you have low rise bottoms and a crop top together it looks really cheap.

  • Goldie
  • ela’s world

    very nice!

    Check out the ela PreFall collection here:

  • I can’t stop looking at that one picture where the model is wearing black and white, standing in front of the mirror. Gorgeous!!!

  • Great pants

    Lots of love,

    April Fashionreports

  • David Gordon

    Leandra, my I say you are one gorgeous beautiful young lady! I adore this outfit very much; suits you so well. I really like the trousers, which show off you stunning legs with the cut outs and mesh inserts. A great option I might add. Those heels are so very sexy and pretty. They perfectly accentuate the clothing you have chosen. I admire your choice not to show your belly button here. I think you have enough stomach and legs showing anyway, so I feel that to get your navel out as well would be a little much. I love beautiful women wearing sexy high heels bare-legged for sure. And you are indeed so hot πŸ’•!