Spring Shopping Guide: Crop Tops

This spring's shopping guide has thus far been quite the trip down memory lane, so why stop now? Today, we're taking a slight detour into my neuroses. Now, when I was in high school, I thought I was absurdly fat. I weighed 127 pounds. I am 5' 7". I would give up carbohydrates, vodka, and maybe even online shopping if I could weigh that little as an adult. So, let's pause and take in some wise words from the patron saint of womanhood:

“Oh, how I regret not having worn a bikini for the entire year I was twenty-six. If anyone young is reading this, go, right this minute, put on a bikini, and don't take it off until you're thirty-four.”
--Nora Ephron, I Feel Bad About My Neck: And Other Thoughts on Being a Woman
As you can infer, I spent most of my adolescence covering myself up, so I pretty much missed out on crop tops first time around. Nor did I partake of the late '90s resurgence--I was in college at the time and carrying around quite the beer belly. So here I am again, confronted with the crop, and the question is, to bare or not to bare? The next time this trend comes around, I have a feeling I will be past my prime--literally and figuratively--and so it appears this season I will finally confront my fear of exposed midriff. As the kids these days say, YOLO.

It's important for crop tops to be snug, because you want them to stay in place when you raise your arms. And yet, sometimes you want a little volume on top, so this McQ crocodile-print top is perfect: it's snug at the waist, but the tiered front creates a flattering layered effect. In terms of crop tops, this is about as demure as it gets.

Not demure: this Herve Leger crop top, which looks like something a pre-Kanye Kim Kardashian would wear. I appreciate its unabashed trashiness; and yet, paired with a high-waisted, fuller skirt and maybe even tights, it could, like Kim K., clean up quite nicely. 

The key to wearing this year's crops (ok, got that pun out of the way) is to pair them with a high-waisted skirt, so you're exposing just a sliver of stomach. That way, you can make the above Herve Leger top, or this Yigal Azrouel scuba top, look slightly more demure. Think Kelly and Donna, not Britney and Christina. 

Speaking of which, I would not recommend wearing this Torn by Ronny Kobo Emma top as styled; however, I do like its '90s-minimalist striped look--it needs a stretchy pencil skirt and maybe some Doc Martens. 

While we're decade-hopping, Alice + Olivia's tweedy Elenore crop top looks almost '50s, but turn it around and there's a cool bit of colorblocking in back for a modern twist. (And, bonus--it's currently 25% off through 4/28 with code FRNFAM.) 

Also on sale is one of my favorites of the bunch, this Elizabeth and James dalmatian-print top, primarily because it has a rare boxier shape, which would allow me to wear something more slim-fitting on the bottom. And should this trend be fleeting, you could always layer it over a slim-fitting tank or dress down the road.

One of the first places I started seeing crop tops--a few seasons ago--was Zara. It's also one of the first places I'd go for something I'm unsure about; Zara's stuff tends to strike that perfect balance between trendiness and cost-effectiveness. That said, I like this asymmetric crop top because it's totally working that Calvin Klein vibe, but also because of the way the back dips down to elegantly cover up one's back fat.

Even though it's one of the simpler styles here, I am totally into this Rachel Rachel Roy cropped top. It reminds me of something the model being romanced by George Michael in one of his videos would wear. That or backup dancers in a rap video. Either way, can't lose. It would also make a lovely layering piece, which is probably what it will end up doing in my closet. 

There are so many crop tops on Nasty Gal, I could have written a post on their many different varieties. And while I'm not sure I sorted through every last one, I do think this striped top is one of my favorites. The boxy fit is a little more versatile, and the stripes manage to look somewhat classic and cool--qualities that one should always strive for, even whilst exposing one's midriff. 

Spring Shopping Guide: Wrap Skirts

Fact: I like skirts. I own quite a few of them. I prefer skirts to dresses, because you can make cooler outfits with them, and due to my freakishly short torso, they tend to fit me much better. I will wear pretty much any silhouette, although my favorite is a slight A-line, hitting a few inches above my knees. Skirts have ceded much territory to dresses in recent years--I get it, dresses are just easier--but the spring runways featured all manner of skirts, of which the dominant shape was the wrap. A twist on the A-line, the wrap (or in most cases, the faux wrap) has that nearly universally flattering shape, with the added benefit of one-false-move-and-it-comes-undone sexiness. And who doesn't love that?

People often ask me who's my favorite designer; my answer can change by the season, but Isabel Marant is always up there. When she makes simply nonchalantly sexy-looking stuff like this studded wrap skirt, I mean, how can you not love her? 

Another constant favorite: Rag & Bone. Everything they make is a cooler version of a classic. Case in point, their Edburg wrap skirt looks chic and versatile at first glance; take a closer look and you'll see that it's croc-embossed leather. Rag & Bone is opening their long-awaited San Francisco store soon, 5 blocks from my apartment. In the meantime, I am thinking about changing my middle name to Trouble. 

While we're playing favorites, another is Proenza Schouler, a label I particularly admire for its devotion to prints. Their wrap-effect skirt evokes butterfly wings both in pattern and in the fluttery way in which the panels fall. And if there's anything I love more than a miniskirt, it's an animal-print miniskirt. 

Considering it has wide horizontal stripes, this A.L.C. Campbell striped skirt shouldn't, in theory, be flattering. And yet the asymmetrical, angled way in which they fall across the hips has a devastatingly slimming effect. And in spite of its knee-covering length, I find the front slit rather sultry, in a Mrs. Robinson kind of way.

I have the luxury of living in a city where I can wear most of my clothes year-round, which means that even though it's spring, I'll get plenty of wear out of this Maison Scotch leather faux-wrap skirt, a strong contender to replace my current (much loved, stretched out) black leather mini. 

Of course, sometimes it's good to step out of one's boundaries. At first glance, this silk panel wrap skirt by the lovely and talented Misha Nonoo seems a bit conservative for my taste, but upon closer look, I love the dreamy print and the fact that a sheer fabric peeks out of the rather high front slits. Demure...and daring.

I love the Gatsby-esque Art Deco print on this Fairground architectural wrap mini; common sense tells me that a woman of my age should plan on wearing tights with this skirt, since the longest point is a mere 16 inches long. 

Asos, one of my favorite sources for disposable fashion trends that I tend not to actually dispose due to their awesomeness, has lots of wrap skirts, as one might imagine. My favorite is this sporty textured colorblock style, currently on sale for a mere $30. 

One of my favorite styles here, this Mango wrapped-waist skirt daringly combines two trends--the peplum and the wrap--into one, and yet it works, in a kind of origami-like way. I've been looking for a new white skirt to replace an old favorite (coincidentally, also from Mango); at $39.99, this one seems like a no-brainer.