STYLED: Cropped Tops

Crop tops came back into fashion a couple years ago, but their popularity has surged recently. In the past they have been called mid-drifts, belly baring tops, cut off tops, and half shirts. It's not a top length that will work for everyone. There are various ways to style them, that makes them more wearable for a wider range of people.  What you want is just a sliver of skin. 1-2 inches is good, but if you're more daring, you can show more of your midsection. Below is a collage of my four favorite ways to style them...oversized, fitted with a maxi skirt, matching sets, and tied. Below the collage is an explanation of my choices.

The oversized cropped tops are great if you want to bare your belly without sacrificing comfort. They skim over more fitted skirts, and create a peek-a-boo effect. You can wear them with high waisted skirts and pants, to cover your torso fully. You can also layer them over summery dresses for a bit more coverage. They are great as bikini covers, to protect your skin from the sun.

To play with volume in reverse, pair a fitted crop top with a flowy maxi skirt. This is great for athletic and slim builds, where you want to show off your torso. I'm smaller on top than bottom, so this silhouette would work great for my body. However, a fitted maxi skirt also looks nice, when I feel like showing off my curves.

For a dress like feel, try a matching set of a cropped top and skirt. There are some sets with matching prints and fabrics. If you don't want to invest in that, you can wear a crop top and skirt that match in color. The fabrics can be the same or similar. You can play with layering sheer cropped tops over solid ones. This can either create a mono-chromatic look if the bottoms match, or can be a great way to match tops to prints. You can wear a solid shirt with a printed bottom or vice versa. These are styling tricks to give a matching set look without actually buying a set.

If you don't want to buy a cropped top, but want to wear that length top, tie a t-shirt or button up shorter. This was something I did in the 80s as a kid. For a t-shirt, you can twist the shirt fabric and tie a knot. This works best with an oversized shirt, since you need excess fabric to tie. The knot will cinch in the excess fabric and define your waist. For a button up shirt, leave the last few buttons undone, roll up or gather up the shirt, and use the tails to make a double knot. For something sexier, leave all the buttons undone, and tie the shirt right under your bust. I recommend wearing a normal fitted cropped tank under it. This would also work over a bathing suit as a cover up. You can wear these knotted shirts with high waist pants and skirts for a covered look, or something lower to bare some skin.

If you don't want to buy a cropped top or have trouble finding one that fits well, you can create your own. For the oversized ones, cut an oversized t-shirt to a length and shape that works well for you. For the fitted ones, take a fitted t-shirt or tank to a length and shape that works well for you. Remember, you can always cut off more, but you can't add it back. Using jersey knit shirts means you don't have to hem the bottom. This can create a more floaty or streamlined shape, depending on how you cut it. Try the various styling methods to see which one works best for your body. Have fun!


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