It takes a brave man to stand up against a trend that threatens to invade summer like a swarm of Asian Long-Horned Beetles. So call me brave and please save your hate tweets because my resolve on this topic is strong. It’s my duty to point a finger at fashion blight when I see it. The trend I’m dreading? Women’s crop tops. The verdict? Your honor, I find this garment guilty of making some women feel bad about themselves and guilty of forcing me to experience PTSGD (that’s Post Traumatic Spice Girls Disorder).
First a little history. Back in my day — please don’t ask which day this was — these were called half shirts (or they were slapped with the less flattering moniker of belly shirt). Madonna loved a good belly shirt, or really any article of clothing that allowed her to receive attention and show some skin. These, along with Olivia Newton-John’s headbands and Jennifer Beals’s leg warmers, were part of the inescapable aftermath of the Jane Fonda Betamax invasion of 1982. Shedding pounds acquired during 1970s fondue parties, women, and Richard Simmons, were ready to show some skin. As a child, I was even drawn into this trend. I proudly wore a half shirt that read “Daytona Beach.” I consider myself lucky that no photographic evidence of the shirt exists.
Crop tops resurfaced in the 1990s, not surprisingly on pop tarts such as Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera. And then, like last summer’s one hit wonder-in-waiting Gotye, the crop top quickly disappeared.
Good or bad, fashion is cyclical. While I sat and watched the Spring/Summer 2013 collections in New York last year, I saw an army of crop tops appear. After one designer (Jason Wu) opened New York Fashion Week with a crop top, I dismissed it as fun camp. Two days later, my corneas were burned by an avalanche of midriffs.
There are runway trends that often appear and disappear by the end of the Fashion Week. I assumed that crop tops would suffer the same fate as the leather bra debacle of 2011. But fashion blogs are currently filled with cheery tips on how to wear a crop top or where to find the best crop tops for spring.
I’m a firm believer that everyone should wear what makes them comfortable (in my case that happens to be a Slanket and tennis shoes), but I’m not a fan of any article of clothing that has the potential to show off muffin tops. There will be a contingent of women wearing them who shouldn’t, and then a contingent of women who will wish they could wear them. And my deepest respect for the women who can wear these and actually pull them off.
But even the biggest celebrities with the flattest of stomachs appear clueless on how to wear the latest round of crop tops. Miley Cyrus is pairing one with a skirt that starts at the hip (no!) and Katy Perry is wearing a bra-like crop top that gives her the appearance of being half-dressed. I realize that grousing about a problem is not helpful. What people need is advice. My recommendation for you, dear friend? Make like Dionne Warwick and walk on by when you see these in the store. The good news? If you must have one, wait until next summer and purchase a deeply discounted crop top at your favorite dollar store.Christopher Muther can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @Chris_Muther.