We’ve been putting it off and putting it off — holding onto our safety sweatsuits for dear life. But with spring’s arrival, the time for stepping out of our sartorial security blanket and into something a little more revealing has come. This season, it’s all about showing skin, with short shorts and Tarzan bikinis gaining traction now that temperatures (and the number of people getting vaccinated) are rising. But the one bare-all trend that has us most excited to give up our pandemic sweats are skimpy, midriff-baring tops and dresses that were last seen on the runways of yesteryear. (Belly button ring not included, but highly recommended.)
In July, Jacquemus’ spring ‘21 collection included countless belly-baring silhouettes, in the form of crop tops and unbuttoned high-rise skirts. Later that season, midriffs were on display during Paris Fashion Week: At Christopher Esber, crisscrossing, floss-like strings adorned the waists of models; at Chanel, bra tops were paired with low-rise, drawstring pants that provided minimal coverage; and at Miu Miu, the Sporty-meets-Baby-Spice collection featured tank tops that showcased the belly button area. Even Hermes unexpectedly made a case for wearing a leather bralette.
Now, with summer around the corner and a returned sense of excitement in the air, this bare-all mentality is leaving the runways and at last entering our real-life wardrobes. According to digital shopping platform ShopStyle, a number of brands that debuted midriffs in their spring collections experienced significant year-over-year search growth upon the season’s arrival, including Orseund Iris (up 100%), Christopher Esber (53%), Jacquemus (24%), and Jonathan Simkhai (14%). Compared to last year, search for “crop tops” and “cut out tops” has increased by 40% and 75%, respectively. “The exposed midriff is here to stay,” says Alison Stiefel, the general manager at ShopStyle. “Early indicators are showing this trend is evolving. We expect midriff floss styles to be one of the top fashion trends of the [spring and] summer.”
The proof isn’t just in the numbers. On Instagram, as your favorite influencers transition from puffers to mini dresses and sets, the midriff has become everyone’s favorite “accessory.” Imani Randolph posed in a peek-a-boo Poster Girl dress with cut-outs galore; Jenny Walton paired a cropped bra-cardigan set with low-rise jeans, showing off her midsection behind a floral handbag; and Ireanna Bradshaw chose a cut-out co-ord that we’re now yearning to buy.
As for why this trend is making such a splash in fashion, the reasoning is the same as for why lingerie’s being worn as outerwear and belly chains are a thing again. After a year spent inside, where we wrapped ourselves in protective layers of jersey and puffy materials akin to a hug, we're feeling ready to shed fabric and show our bodies off, be it in a pair of tiny shorts à la Paul Mescal or a Jacquemus-inspired midriff-baring crop top. Hell, why not try both? Maybe even together!
Below, shop some of our favorite cropped and cut-out tops.
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