Saturday, 1 September 2012

How To Wear... A Crop Top

I love, love, love crop tops and will continue to wear them until snow collects in my not-quite-exposed belly button (so at least the end of this month then). OK, I do quite like my abs and am accustomed to having them on display, having belly danced for 4 years, but you don’t have to be made of steel to flash a little slice of midriff above a high waisted floaty skirt, honestly!

I team cropped tops (of pretty much all descriptions) with high waisted items (of pretty much all descriptions - check out my posts on mini skirts, midi skirts, maxi skirts, mixi skirts, shirts, shorts, cropped trousers, palazzo pants and double denim for more ideas) 99% of the time, to imbue them with a touch of vintage-style elegance.

Having enthusiastically participated in the original ‘90s pairing of crop tops with ultra-low-rise-everything as a newly-pierced teenager, I’ve been slightly reluctant to embrace it this time round so far, but I have no doubt I’ll be converted eventually!

For Day
Transitioning into Autumn/Winter: Acquisitions and Mergers
Figure-Fixing Crop Tops

For Day:

The Causal Tie-Up

Classic Nautical with a Twist

I love pairing crop tops with pencil skirts in different colours and prints. For this look, I teamed a casual white tie-up T-shirt with a classic navy and white striped pencil skirt and ultra-high cork wedges for a cute and classy daytime look. A couple of pops of neon give it a modern twist.

Cropped T-Shirt: River Island (Past Season)
Striped Pencil Skirt (with belt): Jane Norman (Past Season)
Pink Wedges: Peacocks (Past Season)

With a Ladylike Statement Skirt

A beige-toned tie-up tee with lace overlay gives a fun, young edge to a full statement watercolour print midi skirt with the same underlying tones. Simple red flats keep the look casual enough for daytime whilst adding a pop of colour which picks out the skirt’s rose print details, and a statement ruffle-neck trench pulls the look’s camel hues together and keeps the chill off. The full skirt with concealed petticoat gives a flattering A-line shape to the mac, and peeks out underneath to add interest when you’re all buttoned up.

Top: H&M (Past Season)
Skirt: Primark (Past Season)
Shoes: Primark (Past Season)
Coat: Primark (Past Season)

The Bandeau

I originally bought this to layer under sheer tops, but it’s so cute I just had to let it have its own moment in the limelight too – paired with high-waisted denim shorts and peep-toe sandals or wedges, it gives a fun Marilyn vibe for sunny days. I think I’d tie a little white shirt over it for venturing out in an English summer though! It would also work really well with high-waisted capri pants.

Bandeau Top: Primark (SS12)
Shorts: Jane Norman (Past Season)
Shoes: Office (Past Season)

The Layered Drape

This is slightly longer for a cropped top (it’s actually marked Petite, so quite possibly it’s actually intended to be full length – at 5’7” I’m not in the target market, but I tried it on and loved the way it fit – always worth trying on anything you like the look of!) so if you wear it with a high-waisted bottom half, it tends not to show any skin unless you streeeetch. I loved the similar draping on both items, and thought I’d mix them for a more relaxed daytime look, effectively dressing both the top and the skirt down by creating a fluid, diaphanous outline as they flowed together. This combination could be glammed up with heels and a stack of bangles (I’m also seeing a statement headband) for evening though.

Top: Miss Selfridge (Past Season)
Skirt: Topshop (SS12)
Gladiator Sandals: Freemans (Past Season)

The Rara Ruffle

The Work-Friendly Print Clash

Maintaining a monochrome theme throughout this outfit keeps the clash between the floral outline print on the top and the micro polka dots of the skirt complementary, whilst the sweet ruffles on the top are in keeping with the girly flare of the skirt and subtle bow features on the waistband and pumps. The peplum blazer mirrors the skirt’s line and keeps the focus on the waist, whilst hiding the midriff area for a smarter and/or warmer look where necessary.

Top: New Look (Past Season)
Skirt: Primark (Past Season)
Pumps: Primark (Past Season)
Blazer: New Look (Past Season)

The Wandering Gypsy

I wore this for my birthday lunch on the Thames last year, on a ridiculously scorching first day of October (the day after my birthday). Both items are still permanent fixtures in my summer wardrobe. Pairing the same top as in the previous outfit with a gorgeously swishy white pleated maxi skirt gives a completely different romantic vibe. Matching the main tones keeps the look unified and draws attention to the detail on the top. The ruffles broaden the chest area to optically narrow the waist, but the scoop neckline stops the ruffles giving a matronly or shelf-like look to those of us over a B-cup! The hoop earrings with jewelled dangly bits add a little hint of gypsy.

Top: New Look (Past Season)
Skirt: Jane Norman (Past Season)
Earrings: Dorothy Perkins (Past Season)

The Bralet

Fifties Girl

Pairing a sweet bird print bralet with a pastel knee-length pleated midi skirt is an easy way to create an instant retro vibe. I added simple nude court shoes to refrain from over-accessorising.

Bralet: Limited Collection at Marks & Spencer (SS12)
Pleated Skirt: Jane Norman (Past Season)
Nude Court Shoes: Primark (Past Season)

With Jeans

High waisted skinnies look great with all kinds of cropped tops. I teamed mine with my floral bralet and mismatching floral wedges, and topped the look off with a colour pop blazer bringing together the pink in both. A word of warning though - always try before you buy – high waisted jeans often don’t sit on your natural waist, and can create an unattractive squashed belly button/muffin top look if you don’t choose the right pair.

Floral Bralet: Love at Topshop (SS12)
High Waisted Jeans: Primark (Past Season)
Floral Wedges: New Look (SS12)
Pink Blazer: Primark (AW12/13)


The Bralet

Romantic Day-Night

Pairing a floral bralet with a floaty waterfall hem skirt gives a gorgeous relaxed but romantic look that can take you from day to night on hot summer days. I wore this out shopping in London with a sheer dusky pink bed-jacket style cover up as a nod to modesty protection, but it would be a great holiday look too (if you could bear to get the skirt sandy!) – just swap the flat glads for skyscrapers for a night out.

Floral Bralet: Love at Topshop (SS12)
White Mixi Skirt: Topshop (SS12)
Bed Jacket: Primark (Past Season)
Gladiator Sandals: Peacocks (Past Season)

The Sheer Embellished Crop

The light, bright tones of this ensemble give it a summery feel, but it’s versatile enough for both day and evening. I layered this cream sheer top embellished with gold detailing over a white cami and my favourite high waisted mixi skirt (they don’t match exactly, but the tint of the translucent top blurs the join). The flat gold gladiator sandals would work for shopping or dancing all night, but can be swapped for towering wedges to really optimise the glam factor

Top: Primark (SS12)
Cami: Primark (Past Season)
Skirt: Topshop (SS12)
Gladiator Sandals: Freemans (Past Season)


The Sheer Embellished Crop

The Maxi Dress Layer

For a sophisticated evening look that works in all seasons, I’d layer a sheer embellished top over a plain maxi dress, and team with a chic but simple up-do and statement earrings (turban/feathered Alice band optional!)

Top: Primark (SS12)
Dress: Unbranded (past season)
Earrings: BHS
Hair Band: Accessorise (Past season)
Turban: River Island (Past Season)

Sheer Vintage Glamour

For a pull-out-all-the-stops evening look, I’d skip the uppermost underlayer – sticking with a plain bra and keeping all the clothes and accessories black and gold to keep the look streamlined and not too “showgirl”, though. Adding the turban and statement feather earrings adds a dash of necessary vintage glamour – part Great Gatsby, part ‘70s disco chic. And “party wedges” are the best gift womankind has received since Coco Chanel!

Top: Primark (SS12)
Skirt: Jane Norman (Past Season)
Turban: River Island (Past Season)
Wedges (Just Seen): Primark (Past Season)
Earrings: Primark (SS12)
Bra: Marks & Spencer

Transitioning into Autumn/Winter: Acquisitions and Mergers

I usually pop most of my treasured cropped tops into storage for Autumn/Winter, ready to be joyfully pounced upon again at the first flash of sun in March, er, April...June then?!, but I will definitely be keeping out the sheer and/or embellished numbers this year, layering them over shifts and maxis for the Great Gatsby look. I’ll also be hauling my cropped knitwear out of storage to eke out a bit more wear from my summer dresses via the wondrous medium of layering, and to pair with high-waisted skirts and trousers (and a full length coat!).

Figure Fixing Crop Tops for..

Pear Shapes: A cropped top with added volume (e.g. ruffles/drapery/appliqué) can make your chest and/or shoulders look broader, helping to balance out your hips without thickening your waist. Keeping it lighter, brighter and/or more detailed than your bottom half (if mixing prints, make the print on the top larger) will also draw attention upwards. On your lower half, stick to fabrics and cuts that skim rather than cling to your hips for the most flattering look, e.g. wide-leg trousers or an A-line midi or maxi skirt.

Boyish Frames: As above, wearing a cropped top with added volume and detail will boost your bust and emphasise the narrowness of your waist. Wide-legged trousers and A-line skirts will also work for you, or you can get away with a skinny silhouette, but to cheat curvier hips, try tulip or lantern shaped skirts or cropped peg-leg trousers.

Curvy Girls: Beware of extremely high necklines and excessive volume – at 32DD/E, I find that I can often get away with things that “shouldn’t” work on paper, and even find that they can have minimising properties, but subtle differences in cut make a huge difference, and other things that I think will work on the hanger turn out to give me a dreadful “beach balls on a shelf” appearance when I try them on. Hourglasses can get away with almost anything on the lower half (within reason!) whilst those with thicker waists will find it most flattering to stick to showing just a sliver of upper tummy, teamed with a gently flowing skirt (try a mixi if you want to show off your legs, or a peplum to give some coverage to the lower tum).

Tomorrow: How to Wear the Peplum

See more recent posts featuring crop tops here

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1 comment:

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