Ask Natty: How Can I Pull Off A Crop Top?

by Natalie Decleve · May 18, 2012

Dear Natty -

I keep reading in all of the magazines that cropped tops are back in style. I love the way it looks on the models, but can't figure out how to wear them in real life. Is it actually possible, or should this style be left to the pros?

Midriff Mystified

Dear MM -

You're right about one thing, cropped tops did crop up all over the runways for s/s 2012 (PradaProenza SchoulerDonna Karan…), and after a few seasons of sneaking up in small doses - it's safe to say that they're a bona fide trend. While micro-mini anything (skirts, dresses, tops) are always best left to the fit of body, they can actually be much more elegant than other “mini” trends. So YES, they can be wearable for the average civilian, and here's how...

The last time that belly bearing styles were au courant, Nirvana was topping the charts and Cher and Dionne were the queen bees of high-end fashion. This time around, avoid looking clueless in your cropped top by following these simple tips:

1. BALANCE & CONTRAST – Rather than pairing it with a plaid skirt and combat boots, try a cropped top with a ladylike pencil skirt, or chic trouser. A conservative bottom juxtaposed with a more revealing top makes the look feel fresh and stylish.

2. JUST A PEEK – Just because it’s cropped, doesn’t mean you need to go “I Dream of Genie” on us and bare it all. Choose a bottom that comes up high, leaving a maximum of 4 or 5 inches between the edge of the top and the pant or skirt. The idea is to show a sliver of skin, ideally above the bellybutton for maximum chic, minimum skank.

3. LESS ARM, MORE MIDRIFF - If you’re still feeling sheepish, add some extra coverage with a blazer, vest or scarf. By covering up more of your arms, neck and shoulders, the bit of skin that is actually exposed is minimal, and is a nice surprise for an otherwise standard look.

4. OCCASSION, OCCASION, OCCASION – As with any adventurous trend, consider the occasion before you decide to give it a go. No matter how prim your skirt, or how elegant your jacket – if you work at a bank or financial firm, the cropped top just ain’t gonna fly. However, if you’re going to a party or a trendy restaurant – let that midriff free! Any fellow fashionphiles in attendance will certainly “get” your look, and don’t be surprised if you get a well manicured high-five or two!

Wanna see me try? Check out these photos from Fashion Week 2012

xx Natty