Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The Warm Weather Brings a T-Shirt Shortage of Sorts

THERE is one thing that Britney Spears, circa-1980s Madonna, Gwen Stefani, "I Dream of Jeannie," the Spice Girls, "Clueless" and Matt Dillon in "Over the Edge" have in common: a devotion to the crop top.

And now this belly-baring slice of a shirt is back. It can be found in the collections of Alexander Wang, Phillip Lim, Bodkin, Lover, VPL and Rachel Comey, or on the racks at Forever 21, American Apparel and Urban Outfitters.

"We sell tons of them," said Tina Song, the buyer for the online boutique La Garçonne. "They’re having a peak moment, but it has been slowly building over a couple seasons."

But this isn’t the shrunken top, championed by pop stars of the late ‘90s and requiring taut abdominals; today’s crop tops are longer and boxier than in the past. "This is not a baby-doll tee worn with three-inch-rise Frankie B. jeans," said Mitra Khayyam, the owner of the Los Angeles-based T-shirt company Blood Is the New Black, which started carrying cropped shirts this year.

Ms. Khayyam noted that this isn’t a look strictly for the naturally thin. "They can be worn by size 0 to size 10," she said, "because you’re not exposing your midriff as much as drawing attention to your waist."

Devotees are specific about whereon the body the crop top should hit. "There’s a certain length that’s appropriate: just below or to my belly button — no one wants to see my love handles when I’m wearing a crop top," said Sabrina Bacon, 22, a freelance fashion assistant who lives in the East Village. She began wearing crop tops three and a half years ago when she cut in half a too-long shirt that had been given to her and “didn’t look good with anything."

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