Flash-fashion events are like lightning, only lasting a hot second before disappearing into the seasonal ether — but even such fleeting fads can leave a lasting mark. Welcome to Micro Trends, where we explore the latest and greatest of these blink-and-you’ll-miss-them style moments.
Throughout history, the scant upper-body garment covering the neck and arm region has taken on many forms and nomenclatures. In the early 20th century, designers like Schiaparelli and Balenciaga created romantic bolero jackets inspired by the shrunken chaquetilla jacket worn in traditional bullfighting. Almost a century later, the micro-top evolved into a Y2K style mainstay: the shrug, worn by countless style-minded teens to proms and bat mitzvahs throughout the late 90s and early 2000s. Now, a new iteration of the partial garment has arrived on the scene: the dramatically cut-out-and-cropped-up sweater.
We first spotted the sky-high-cropped top in 2019 via Aisling Camps, a mechanical engineer-turned-knitwear designer who created a marled knit crewneck version that she manufactured start to finish on a knitting machine. “I like to wear short-sleeve or strapless tops,” the Brooklyn-based designer told us, “and in the winter sometimes you just need instant sleeves — so voila! I made some dramatic ones.” Now, other trend-minded brands starting to catch on. When the cut-out style recently appeared on the racks at Zara, a diplomatic Twitter user called it the solution to “cold arms and hot tits”; while R29’s content strategist told us that “all my friends have been talking about is how strange it is.”
No matter where you fall on the spectrum of acceptance, it’s hard to deny that this mini-trend is experiencing a surge, with missing-piece sweaters popping up everywhere from indie-minded Etsy to high-falutin’ designer imprints like Loewe and Peter Do. Ahead, find some of the shortest, shruggiest sweaters the internet has to offer.
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