From Ida Lupino and Spice Girls to Miley Cyrus and Beyonce — the stylish woman’s affair with the crop top refuses to die down. A guide to this fashion

After multiple appearances on international and Indian runways for a number of seasons, crop tops have gone from being a faded 90s controversial whim to present day conventional wardrobe staple. A summer favourite; the ready-to-wear Spring/Summer 2014 collections of designers and design houses such as Louis Vuitton, Alexander McQueen, Masaba Gupta and Dev R Nil presented copious ways of styling it and bust the traditional boundaries that defined the fashion. “Crop tops have evolved from arty aesthetic to more of sports luxe. That predominantly is what has been a major difference,” says designer Nachiket Barve, whose Spring/Summer 2014 collection showcased a range of eclectic crop tops. Albeit, a bold statement at its instigation, crop tops have now transitioned into areas of casualoutfits. Designer Kresha Bajaj, who has been instrumental in keying this, agrees, “Crop tops have always been in the fashion scene from as early as the forties and fifties and reigned supreme till the nineties. They did lose popularity in the noughties only to return with a bang a couple of years ago. Making a summer appearance with cute bustier-skirt sets, crop tops became the favourites of the season. From casual tees with a sporty vibe to loose beachy styles and elegant bustiers; I love them because you can dress them up or down so easily. With a variety of styles, there is something for everyone.” With such massive experimentation into crafting alternative looks with a crop top, no longer are they the choice of only the daring. Not only have they paved their way into casual daytime looks, but also into corporate offices and beachwear. A crop top doesn’t necessarily render images of low-slung trousers and a heavily revealed mid-riff anymore. Designers and stylists have now forayed into more imaginative styling. Designers at Alice + Olivia and Rinku Sobti, for example, balanced the high hemline of the crop top by pairing it with high-waist skirts and modest shorts. Likewise, Peter Som’s SS’14 collection showcased concealed middles with prominent layering of jackets and blazers and alternatively paired bralets with feminine full skirts. Premier Indian luxury beachwear designer duo Shivan and Narresh of their eponymous label also believe that crop tops have been major contributors to the season’s biggest fashion — sports luxe. “Their ability to border on the lines of being formal as well as casual make them staples in wardrobes.

The newest addition to crop tops have been the bralets — they are sporty and edgy and mould themselves in variety of materials from structured linens to modern latex ones,” suggests Narresh. “Put on a crop top with a pencil skirt for an evening or sport a linen crop top under a jacket with trousers for a formal look. Put on a sporty colour-blocked bralet with shorts for a casual day at the beach. A boxy linen crop top with linen shorts would be ideal for a sharp summery holiday look,” elaborates Shivan.

Some believe that these tops may be unsuitable for a conservative Indian look. On the contrary, the humble sari blouse, which brazenly reveals the mid section, is an example of the presence of this fashion in traditional clothing, admittedly with subtle nuances. “A crop top is not restrictive in terms of Indian clothing. You can put it on with a sari or lehenga instead of a traditional blouse to get an edgy look,” says Bajaj.

While fashion is an area where one needs to venture out of the comfort zone, sometimes for the sake of experimentation, Barve says, “It isn’t crucial to embrace every fashion. It is essential to be careful regarding crop tops because they are not complementary to all body types and work best with a petite frame. It is a bold and tricky fashion, if you’re unsure of it, don’t sport it.” Bajaj says that one doesn’t need to have a slim waistline to sport a crop top. “Crop tops paired with high waist bottoms, showing off just a hint of midriff, creates an illusion of a smaller waistline,” she says. With an appropriate analysis of the fashion and acknowledgement of what suits one’s body, crop tops can be the perfect statement piece to add to the summer wardrobe this season.

Fashion tips

- Layer your crop top with a sheer blouse. That way you can be comfortable yet chic.

- A crop top paired with a pencil skirt is the easiest way to go from casual to corporate.

- Channel a prim look by pairing your belly shirt with a high-waist skirt or high-rise trousers. It’s uncomplicated and not too bold.

- Throw on a boxy cardigan or a blazer if you don’t want to bare the midriff.