7 Ways To Style Crop Tops Because The Cutest Summer Look Is Also The Trickiest

Can we all take a moment and talk about how excited we are that it's officially popsicle weather? And that popsicle weather always breeds summer crop tops weather? Ice cream truck jingles are mixing with the sound of summer breezes and patio conversations, pink lemonade is being poured into tall glasses, cute freckles are being convinced out of hiding, and beaches are filling up with happy colored umbrellas. This is it, everything we've been waiting for these past nine months of winter is here!

And the exciting part? It's now officially time for summer fashion trends. Dresses with cheerful stripes in the color of beach balls are being zipped up and every style of sandal imaginable is being carefully considered and weighed. Floppy hats are popped over beachy waves and bohemian tops are being tucked into flirty little shorts. But with all of our tried and true classics come some exciting — albeit somewhat intimidating — new trends. All of them are fun, some of them are puzzles, and a few are intimidating wildabeasts. 

One of which is the crop top. Some women swear by it, others fear it, and some are just confused by it. Styling crop tops can be a tricky thing, but if you've always been intrigued by the trend then why not learn how to do it? It's not as hard as it looks, and it's surprisingly versatile! Below are seven ways to style the crop top and make the trend your own.

1. Pair It With High-Waist Jeans

The number one thing that makes a lot of women iffy about trying out the crop top is that it shows a whole lotta skin. Balance that worry out by forgoing the mini skirts or short shorts and pairing the piece with high-waist pants instead. The covered legs will make the exposed skin from the crop feel less scandalous, and the high rise of the pants will nix any Britney Spears circa 2004 flashbacks. Note that the pants don't only have to be jeans — they can be any high-rise pair!

2. Find One In A Billowy Or Boxy Shape

When most of us think "crop top" we think of tight little numbers that stop just at the underwire of our bra. While those can be fun to play with, keep in mind that's not the only style! If you're a little nervous trying out the trend, dip your toe into the water by opting for a longer, more billowy version. There are plenty that hit just above the belly button if you'd like more coverage, and many come in bohemian, loose shapes like this Hawaiian print one, or in boxy, structured silhouettes if you'd like something sleeker.

P.S. I totally made this crop top from an old Hawaiian shirt thrift store find. If you can't find a crop top to your liking, make your own!

3. Match It With A Cardigan

Just because you're wearing half of a shirt doesn't mean you have to bare it all if you're uncomfortable with the idea. Have fun figuring out ways to layer the piece, like pairing it with a cardigan or a casual blazer. That way you get more coverage but still can dabble with the playfulness the trend offers.

4. Let It Be An Accent, Not The Star

Use the crop top as a layering piece rather than the star of your outfit. For example, pop it underneath overalls for a cheeky summery look, or underneath pinafore dresses for a playful, girly vibe. 

5. Crop Top, Meet The Midi

Go for a girlier, sweeter vibe with the short top by pairing it with a midi skirt. Whether it's a pencil shape like this one, or a full A-line number, the longer length will help balance out the proportions of the tinier top. 

6. Pop It Over A Maxi Dress

The top doesn't just have to be paired with pants and skirts you know! You can use it as a fun layering piece, playing with proportions and shrugging it over a maxi dress. Pair a billowing maxi with a looser top for a laid back look, or match a full-skirted maxi dress with a tighter crop top to really make the skirt pop. This would also look cute with skater silhouettes or A-line dresses since the top would bring more attention to the volume of the dress.

7. Use It To Transform An Old Piece

You see this dress over here? Yup, it's a dress. And what's more, it's a dress I almost tossed out because I felt like it no longer fit in with my style. I still felt pretty in it with its long, floaty hem, but the top was so... dated. As I stared at it in my hands I squinted my eyes at the neckline. Damn you spaghetti straps, why did you have to turn my pretty dress into something the Friends cast would wear in the '90s? But then I thought, what would happen if we just hid those straps? So I reached for my trusty turtleneck crop top, popped it over the dress and voila — I have myself a lovely new maxi skirt!

As you can see, crop tops aren't as scary as you previously thought, and they come with a world of styling possibilities. They're not just for "skinny girls with fit, washboard abs" — any body type can pull it off in any way. You can decide to go all-out and match it with flirty little skirts or hot short-shorts, or you can use it as a layering piece and slip it underneath overalls or on top of dresses. You can tone it down with cardigans and maxi skirts, or just tweak the shape and opt for a longer, more billowy piece. Whatever you're most comfortable with, just let yourself try it!

Images: Marlen Komar

Must Reads