How To Wear Crop Tops When You're Plus-Size

We have a long history of saying fuck the fashion rules here at R29. But where some rules are finally accepted as antiquated — don't mix blacks with browns, don't wear white after Labor Day — there are some lingering 'rules' we're still in the process of smashing. The idea of picking clothes that are "flattering" for your body type is one of them — and no one knows that better than Brianna McDonnell.
As the face behind the Instagram style account @the_b_word_ (that's currently racked up just under 60K followers), McDonnell's made it her daily task to circumvent what dressing and shopping for your body looks. From her plus-size fashion-driven posts to her YouTube page, which chronicles her shopping hauls, among other things, she's made it her life mission to give the middle finger to traditional fashion tropes. As she puts it, "I am championing fat women showing themselves, however they choose. We are sold the idea of what is flattering and I want to see more plus people living their best life, whatever that means to you." But apart from making women, and herself, feel good about everything they wear, there's one thing she's really good at: crop tops.
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There's an art to crop tops at any size. At the root of it, they're tops made for ants that seem to look one way on retail models, yet look another way on us. But regardless of our frustration with the silhouette, they're still a summer staple we can't seem to shake or put behind us. Like Brianna, we're planning on wearing them no matter what anyone thinks. But just how do you go about wearing one when most retailers don't even offer them in any size above a medium?
Ahead, McDonnell takes us inside her process for finding the perfect crop top for plus ladies, from where to shop, how to style it, and how to make yourself feel comfortable in your own skin — crop top or no crop top.
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"[Plus-size shoppers] have very limited options, so I always like things that are different and outside of the box, and are within my budget. I am a thrift queen; a cut-it, sew-it, make-it-a-crop-top type of girl. I also love Boohoo, they have some of my favorite tie crop tops right now. Fashion Nova always has crop tops. Charlotte Russe is great to walk into and shop."
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"I think the plus-size market is lacking in general. I would love to walk into a mall and have more than three stores I can shop in...and have the same style options [as straight sizing]. Being plus-size my whole life has made me a professional shopper and a make-it-work type of dresser. It makes you get real creative."
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"For so long, I shopped for things that were 'flattering' for my body type, and I was really restricting my personal style because of my insecurities. Now, I feel like I push myself to the other extreme; I ask myself: 'What do you love?' 'What would make you feel beautiful and powerful?' That’s how I shop for clothing. I'm really into a tie-front crop top right now, so I’m on the hunt for something that stands out and makes me feel empowered while wearing it."
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"Crop tops look amazing with high-waisted options; high-waisted jeans, shorts, skirts. I really love high-waisted items with a belt to highlight your snatched waist."
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"I need enough room in the sleeve which can be hard to find. I always wish I had more options as a plus-size shopper, so thank goodness we’re moving towards that. Once I realized that as long as I’m confident and feel amazing in what I’m wearing, I truly could wear anything. So I look for clothing I feel empowered in. If I try a crop top on and I’m pulling at it, or I feel anything less than amazing, it’s not for me. My clothing is a tool to me being my best, most confident self. Fashion is supposed to be fun!"
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"A tip for wearing anything: Do you love it? If it’s yes, rock that shit! Life is too short to let your insecurities hold you back. Go for it. I found in my life, that choosing fashion outside of my comfort zone was the beginning for me to find my self confidence. By putting crop tops on and things people told me I couldn’t wear, it was a reclaiming of myself, which lead to me finding my own voice, my own confidence, and my own style. "
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