Dissecting the Crop Top

So what if we’ve already discussed it? Let’s dive back in.


Crop tops are uh, cropping up again at lightning speed. And even though Fall and therefore colder weather is on the distant horizon, it doesn’t quite look like we’re about to shelf this one in favor of navel concealment. So what should we do? Dissect the zeitgeist-y trend, duh.

Before we continue though, it’s important to clarify that crop top can mean one of two things. On the one hand, it is a piece of clothing for women or girls covering the upper body but cut short to expose the stomach. On the other, it is a haircut. So, the next time someone tells you that your “chop” looks great, you best turn around, give them the stink eye and explain that it’s a crop top. But I digress. Today we’re discussing the former.

As far as we can tell and perhaps discarding the early Middle Eastern, belly-dancing related use (holler at us, Jasmine), crop tops seemingly began claiming their territory with high waisted shorts, skirts and pants in the 50s. While that surge resulted in something of a 30 year lag period (give or take, of course, a Summer of Love participant–and everyone’s favorite 1965 I Dream Of genie), the following crop revival appeared on one Madonna circa the early 80’s and that’s when the flood gates opened.

Then there was Kelly Kapowski, which was followed by a more subtle, early 90’s interpretation that seemed more like a nod to a sliver of bare midriff but rebuked its stance just a little while later as evidenced by the varying costuming routines of everyone’s favorite: TLC and Britney Spears.

It was right around then that I, personally, took interest in the trend but considering my tender age (let’s figure around eight years old,) and the sense of proprietorship my mother still maintained over my sartorial endeavors, I’d only be able to admire from afar. Now, though, with the help of, (as evidenced in the slideshow above,) Balenciaga Louis Vuitton, Chanel, Theyskens Theory, Christian Dior and Calvin Klein, I have no regrets.

It’s our chance again and while last month we grazed this topic utilizing a denim crop top and high waisted pants, I think it’s high time we collectively balls to the walls and let our belly buttons breathe. That’s the interesting things about trends, right? If they don’t disappear in due time, they only become more exaggerated. Does the future hold bras proper as suitable blousing? Here’s hoping.

So what if you’re not particularly proud of your stomach? Fake it.

On me: Viva Aviva crop top, Etoile Isabel Marant jeans, Shipley and Halmos denim shirt and Oscar de la Renta heelss.


Get more Personal Style ?
  • You’re rocking that crop top and I swear Saved by The Bell is the best reference for great crop top attire.


  • I love the idea of a crop top but I haven’t yet dared wear one.

    I feel silly walking around with my mid-riff showing at my old age of 25.


    This post may inspire me to bust out my crop top and expose my midriff !



    • Girl please! I’m 27, and plus size I’ve worn Cropped tops before. 25 is young, if you do it right you can pull it off. So many options to keep it simple, classy and still covered up. Even if it’s just a tiny peek above and depending on where you skirt or pants hit you can cover up a lot of yourself while just showing a little tummy toned or not.

      • Being a plus-sized girl as well I feel as though this is not a trend for me but I guess if you do it the right way it can definitely work! I want to try this and see how it works on me!

        • I hate to throw a name out there but there are maybe 3 bloggers out there that rock them, GabiFresh, NaturallyFashionable, and GarnerStyle. See if you can google them and get some advice on it. A lot of the time you can maybe throw on a blazer to hide the sides, or wear a certain type of top and NaturallyFashionable breaks it down. I’ll see if i can send you the blog link via your blog.

        • Curvily NYC

          I’m plus and will definitely be rocking one before the summer is over. In addition to the lovely bloggers mentioned by ESP, check out Nadia Abhoulson’s crop looks.

      • Jenica Burgos

        I never rocked a crop until I was thirty. I think it’s all about confidence. I say go for it.


  • Katerina

    I remember commenting on your last post about crop tops on how I would wait for that damn 6-pack. You then proceeded to reply with “Don’t wait for those fuckers, just do it!” Guess what? I did!! Didn’t mind it as much as I thought I would. I think as long as the bottoms are high enough, I’m all down for the cropping!! I’ve already got my eye set on some other styles 😉


    • Monica M

      I, too, am experimenting with the crop top thing. No six pack here!


      • Do six packs even exist?

        • Guest

          Of course they do! I’ve got one in my fridge right now.

  • megmehp

    much like the Indian Lehenga choli

  • Lisa

    They are pretty cool, but I would feel uncomfortable wearing one (as I feel my stomach to be suitable for a bikini but somehow not for showing it in non-beach situations)… But for everybody who doesn’t eat that extra piece of cake: Go for it!

    Lisa – AT LEAST BLOG

  • Magda McCann

    My weekends are meant for midriff showcasing. Last weekend:Unisex crop T from American Apparel, red plaid shirt tied to the same baring line and railroad stripe jean shorts. Next weekend: likely an iteration of the last. After a week full of written dress codes and unwritten societal norms, showing some skin about the navel is rebellion disguised as aplomb.

  • Royal Wang

    i really like your new website design,do you design yourself or you have a team ?

  • I’m not a fan of crop tops but I love your heels!!!!


  • Amatoria

    My only concern with this trend is that it can go wrong very easily. I recently saw a teenage girl who carried a large portion of her weight in her midsection. she was wearing LOW CUT denim cut-offs and a SHEER sleeveless cop top tied in the front. While this would be an adorable outfit on someone else, the poor girl should be aware that you should dress in what makes YOU look your best, not in whatever your friends are wearing.
    This also made me sad for her, because her friend that was with her should have, in a nice way, recommended a different top. She had great legs and would have looked great in a full-length top.

    • Probably because in the plus size community most are starting to simply not care what other people don’t like. You would be shocked at the comments I see and hear on my other friends blogs. People come in and say…you shouldn’t wear that because it’s not flattering on a bigger person. This isn’t my friends issue, it’s the issue that people have with bigger people doing what they want. Now I don’t know if the girl you were talking about simple just looked bad or not but Personally I wear mine by my skirt or pants are high wasted but don’t feel bad for her…a lot of people feel good in their clothes when people don’t feel comfortable looking at them. Not saying that’s what you were doing but it’s the case most of the time.

      • Amatoria Clothing

        I agree that it’s great if people feel good in their skin and wear what they like. I also feel that you do yourself a disservice if you wear things that make your body look worse than it is. If this girl had, like you suggested, worn a high-waist skirt with her top, then it would have looked much better.
        You don’t have to have a small waist to be fashionable or look put together. Anyone can be on trend and look great if they know what works best for their body/ personality. My point really is that I don’t like when people follow trends just because “everyone else is doing it”.

        • I hear you, there is still a such thing as just looking unkept regardless of size which I assumed was the case. I know I’ve had my days…none like that though lol.

  • I’m done inserting myself in other peoples comments haha. Anyway love your outfit and all this Inspiration for the Crop Top!

    • Charlotte

      Keep the discussion going that’s what this forum is for!

  • Fashion Follows Her

    The crop top is perfection for summer but I’m just not haven’t got the nerve to wear one out!

  • Tatiana

    Im losing faith in this blog.. you buy clothes none of us can buy!

    • Leandra Medine

      I am sorry to hear you’re losing faith. I would hope the outfits are more about inspiring than they are about replicating–the idea is for all of you (fucking AWESOME readers) to make what I do your own. That said, point very well taken and I will look into so more budget friendly garb. i should mention, though, the rule is wholesale, shop sale, resale, or NO sale!

      • Tegan

        This is getting a little out of control. I didn’t say anything after the Zara article, but feel I have to defend Leandra. She shouldn’t have to dress exclusively in Target to have her outfit fall within everyone’s means. If you did want to emulate that outfit, loose jeans and a denim shirt aren’t hard to come by. The crop is not obscenely priced either. For the record I didn’t earn enough to be taxed in Australia last year, so I am not in a position to afford all things displayed on this website, but I still enjoy the blog for what it is – inspiration to dress how you want!

      • Ghazaleh Kermaani

        I’m not really sure if you need to look into more “budget” items. Isn’t every other blogger out there already doing that? The reason that TMR has been so successful is that you do have a unique POV and that it’s more inspirational and witty. I don’t think you should walk away from that.

      • Paperstarz

        Well said. Some days I dislike you Leandra (calling Ryan Gosling ugly), but its days like these that keep me coming back. Fashion is about inspiring, not copying. Good or bad (and you do have some bad days), you embody fashion.

  • Itchbe

    I have a 16 year old and the crop top thing started last summer and picked up speed through the fall and into the winter and it’s still here.
    She was pairing them with legs and once the warm weather hit only the most ass cakey shorts would do, sometimes a short high waisted skirt. Her friends all wear the same thing. I gave in and started buying them to prevent the cutting of every tee in the house.
    Maybe it’s just a case of the youth and the street leading the way…again.

    p.s love your writing and the comments are the best.

  • Paris Hilton forever ruined crop tops for me in the early 2000s. I just can’t.

  • Rachel

    crop tops and birkenstocks. Love this season.


  • Poe

    Is it uncouth to bring this up? Because I feel like this must be talked about…
    I wake up with washboard abs, am a size 2, and even *I* can’t even wear a crop top unless I plan to dehydrate myself all day long. I have to pee, my bladder is distended. It’s not a good look!

  • ASULikeIt

    Being hourglass shaped, I always pair a crop top with high-waist shorts or pants. My belly button still suffocates but I do get to enjoy the midriff breeze.

  • Gabi

    I may not have read closely enough, but I do not believe that you referred to your pictured crop top as a vagina, yet it most certainly is vagina-esque. i’m disappointed. Please give credit where credit is due.

    • Leandra Medine

      FUCK you’re right. I don’t know what’s gotten into me.

  • I love crop tops (I have an over-abundance of them) and I love how, paired with high waisted bottoms, it gives ANY woman of ANY shape and size a beautiful hourglass figure. I think the trick is to totally find a flattering cut and fabric. I don’t see this trend dying anytime soon, either.


  • Maria Inês Ribeiro
  • crazyloverblue

    Can I just say props for wearing a true manrepelling top? It sort of looks like those paper toilet seat covers and also like a jellyfish lol I just need to buy a FITTED crop top. I tried the looser style and it looked oh so bad (not bad- ass) .

  • Ghazaleh Kermaani

    Hi Leandra, I think you look great in the crop top and appreciate your unique point of view (as always). I have to say that crop tops that expose the belly button concern me a bit… actually wrote about this a bit on my blog as well (http://beautyandsass.com/2013/06/18/croptops/).

    For one, to be completely “balls to the walls” with the trend, you do really need a high fashion, model type body – I’m 5’4 and unless I’m wearing a really low bottom and a really high cut top, it’s really barely a crop top. And then you have to be “thin” AND confident enough to wear a crop top… you see where I’m going. You just get down to a really small percent of the population that really can wear a true crop top in the way you’re describing. My next concern is that the trend is pushing on women’s insecurities. It seems like we have moved on from the days of being super skinny to owning our curves. Most fashion these days encourage that while a true crop top goes a bit in the other direction. Anyhow, since we’re getting into Fall at this point, my guess is that we’ll need to wait awhile till next Spring to see if it really catches on with the masses.

  • Melissa

    Is a crop top suitable for a belly that is 5 months pregnant? Would it change if said belly was 8 months pregnant? Just checking…

  • ASH

    LEANDRA can you prettypleasecherryontop to a book post?

    • ASH


  • ffgfghg

    I have an hairy stomach, so guess I shall pass.

  • Kim

    Haven’t worn one this season but you have inspired me to now!


  • To fake pride of my stomach? Hm …

    I’ve been faking pride of my butt, legs and ears these few months (ever since I found out “damn it all” is the right way to deal with being 40). Now, if I add stomach, it might just tip the scales and whoosh, there I go again, all mushy and cushioned in all the wrong places.

    Then again, surely normal mortals are not supposed to show their belly button after … 25?

  • Funny how fashion always comes full circle…


  • I am not too crazy about the crop top trend, to be honest. I know everything eventually comes back in fashion, but I still can’t see it.

  • Paco T.
  • B.

    every picture ive seen of myself lately (when im not at work) my midriff is out. just bought my 4th from American Apparel. not even mad about it.


  • Angela Anderson

    you go girl! for me i just can’t seem to get past the bearing of the naval. You would think being a model, that would be a walk in the park. ha but call me modest. I think the saying less is more could work both ways.. ps. love your blog!x


  • Girlscout

    I love the way this look is not obvious and the shoes are fab!!!


  • I need to fake it hard then because my stomach is so not ready for crop tops. 😛 But hopefully a few (?) gym sessions will take care of that.


  • Courtney

    Oh Kelly Kapowski! That’s what sold me. Summer is approaching here in South Africa and in the name of Zach Attack I will ROCK a crop top. Come on LISA T!

  • Cadence Hsien Li Jie

    I love crop tops because they can look super chic but yet you can wear them casually too! I think crop top trend is definitely one of the fashion highlights this year. I recently wrote a post about it and would love to hear your comments! http://dressi.ly/2013-fashion-review/ 😀

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