The crop top, worn high against prejudice and diktats


Ihe history of the crop top is not as short as you think. From the oriental dancers who passed through the Universal Exhibition of 1893 in Chicago, to those who wear it today, a long road, paved with navels, has made it a political object. If we readily associate it with the 1980s, the decade when it was worn by Prince and Madonna, the crop top made its debut much earlier. On the shoulders of Ingrid Bergman in casablanca (1942) or those of Rita Hayworth in Gilda (1946), it is largely inspired by the Indian sari, revealing a limited part of the abdomen of these queens.

Do we owe the fashion for the crop top to the rationing of fabric due to the Second World War? Or to the influence of the costumes of the so-called “exotic” dancers? The hypotheses are multiple. The fact remains that, after the war, the crop top was all the rage among pin-ups and starlets, in the forefront of which was Marilyn, who appeared, during a photo shoot, in a crop top with a turtleneck and long sleeves – the perfect garment to be too cold in winter and too hot in summer. The sizes are still high and the fairer sex is often relegated to the status of objects. With the sexual revolution, the navel appears: a way for women to say that their belly belongs to them.

But this liberation also establishes new dictates. In the 1980s, the crop top accompanied the cult of the body. Of Rocky To flashdance, he takes up boxing, dancing, aerobics or fitness and, in all disciplines, comes to soak up the perspiration of training. For both men and women, it almost systematically reveals a flat stomach, often muscular, the mark of a body worked to meet beauty standards.

Read also: The crop top, from Thomas Edison to Zac Efron via “Flashdance”

This is all the more true in the late 1990s and early 2000s, when, from the sweet pop of Britney Spears to the watered-down punk rock of Gwen Stefani, we show off our bodies, often characterized by an absence of hips and a piercing in the navel – part of the anatomy historically neglected, with the exception of Ronsard, who dedicated a sonnet to him in 1552. Ornamented, the navel then saw its hour of glory. And, with the complicity of low-waisted pants, the crop top reveals a significant piece of skin.

Will global warming make the crop top the uniform of the future? In 2020, at the start of the school year in September, some high schools banned this garment judged “indecent” and Jean-Michel Blanquer, then Minister of National Education, urged students to dress in “republican style”.

A harangue that made feminists jump, deploring that, from an early age, the appearance of women remains scrutinized, judged, sexualized. Also today the crop top is less sporty than assertive. Men and women whose bodies are not in the norm reclaim it. And the long history of the crop top continues to be nourished by the battles of the time.

Read also: Article reserved for our subscribers Outfits in high school: when the “crop top” invites itself to the table of family discussions
Maxifleurs top, in cotton, linen, polyamide and elastane, €49.99, and tank top in polyester, viscose and elastane, €22.99,
Marbled denim top, €610, Miu Miu panties and skirt.
Celine Paris cotton tank top, €420, Celine belt and jeans by Hedi Slimane,
Gucci lace top and trousers, price on request.
Sleeveless cotton sweater, Louis Vuitton Homme, €585. – Chloé body jewelry.
Embroidered mesh top, €1,600, and Isabel Marant trousers.


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