Lament: Crop Tops Rise from the Dead

Approximately one year ago, I was musing about how quickly the styles of the 90s and 00s had been recycled and I thought, Thank God crop tops haven’t come back. They were too awful even for fast fashion to resurrect.

Those thoughts had barely formed in my head when crop tops started appearing in the SS2014 collections. My dismay turned quickly to disbelief when the New York Times reported women’s efforts to transform their bodies — through exercise and cosmetic surgery — for the purpose of wearing CROP TOPS. Of all the disturbing things reported in the article (hundreds of crunches, self-esteem through better abdominal definition), the most disturbing was one woman’s description of crop tops as “intriguing.” She didn’t mean intriguing like beguiling; she meant worthy of observation and exploration.


 For the record, here are things that intrigue me:
Monolithic sculptures at Easter Island
Monolithic statutes on Easter Island

The television and Internet transmitted through air, in waves
The television and Internet transmitted through air, allegedly in waves
Deep Space, and the possibility of life many light years away
Deep Space, and the possibility of life many light years away
Don't really understand how the toilet works
Don’t really understand how the toilet works

And in our world of wonders, there are even clothes that are interesting. For instance, the designs of Charles James are intriguing because they are engineering marvels.
Charles James Cloverleaf Evening Dress
Charles James Cloverleaf Evening Dress, 1953

So what is my problem with crop tops? First, they are unflattering because they unduly shorten the torso and can be difficult to balance with a bottom (pants or skirt) in the right proportions. (I think a slim crop top with a knee-length or long skirt — full, a-line or straight — may be the best look.) I must allow, however, that the current iteration of the crop top is much better than the 90s version — the cut is slimmer and longer and intended to show just a sliver of midriff. Second, notwithstanding the example of Hollywood actresses, I don’t think crop tops are appropriate in many settings. They are not for: work or anything work-related, ceremonial occasions like weddings and funerals, black-tie events. I wouldn’t wear one to a family gathering even if I were 25. That leaves brunch and dates.

But with the wisdom of age (the sadder, but wiser Directrice), I have realized that this new generation of crop tops are great layering pieces. So I bought two and have great plans for them.

Co-opt, subvert, triumph!

plans for this
3.1 Phillip Lim Draped Brocade Top from Gilt; picture this with a short-sleeved black blouse and slim black pants or, come fall, with a white long-sleeved blouse, a straight, long black skirt and boots!
tiled jacquard
Tiled Jacquard Tank from Anthropologie; picture this with a white blouse, light khakis and a brown or dark green safari jacket
Leifsdottir Striped Jade Midi Top from Anthropologie; picture this with a black blouse (or a white blouse) and slim black pants

Note: A plain black, crew necked crop top would be very useful (in lieu of a sweater vest) with many ensembles and a black-and-white striped one would be just the thing with a white blouse, khakis and sneakers.

6 thoughts on “Lament: Crop Tops Rise from the Dead”

  1. Love your musings. I just love your blog and find it is something I search out in the morning first thing. Thank you. Highlight of my reading.

    • I am so delighted to hear this! I chuckle a lot while writing these entries and some day I will share an epic post of the most unflattering and goofy photos, which are hilarious. Thank you for reading.

  2. I welcome the return of the crop tops! With, as the Directrice says, appropriate layers underneath. I think they shorten my overly long torso, and since even regular tops end up baring my midriff in inappropriate ways (peekaboo while writing on the board in the classroom!), at least crop tops are designed to be this way. Would love to see photos of how you pull this off. Perhaps while pondering the mysteries of indoor plumbing.

  3. Great ideas for styling crop tops! I love the Phillip Lim one and have it on Pinterest, such an interesting drape effect.

  4. I, like you, am quite skeptical of all this cropping going on. I will be very curious to see how you make it work (to quote the immortal Tim Gunn). As a short-waisted hourglass-type myself, I do not see this look working for me, but never say never.


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