Take it from a woman: men, you should wear crop tops

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It was April 12, 2019 and I was aimlessly scrolling through my Instagram feed when I came across a post from the Philadelphia 76ers. Stunned, I stopped and stared at Jimmy Butler’s bare stomach, visible through a torn t-shirt.

Butler, as many know, is a tough, attractive and incredibly talented asshole who broke my heart two summers ago when he left the Sixers for Miami. But I forgive him, only because of that day last April when he showed up to practice wearing this look.

Unsurprisingly, most of the post’s comments refer to the top, with many asking for a version of “What is Jimmy wearing?”

I’ll tell you what he was wearing. He wore a crop top – and it was sexy as hell.

In the 1970s and 1980s, a man in a crop top was not an unusual sight to behold. In fact, it was a real crop top craze for male athletes and celebrities.

The men’s crop top was born in the early 70s, especially in the world of college football. According to MEL Magazine, many players wore “tear-off” jerseys designed to tear in sections as offensive players moved away from potential tacklers. In 1982 jerseys were banned in college football, but in the mid-1980s players began cutting the bottoms of their jerseys or tying them behind the back with the primary purpose of making themselves harder to grab, but also with the added bonus of showing off those sweet, sweet abs.

Just a bunch of guys competing in short singlets. (Sports Illustrated)

Two other seemingly very different communities in the 70s and 80s also contributed to the growing popularity of the cropped look: bodybuilders and punks.

“In the late ’70s, the crop top had just arrived on the punk scene,” says Dr. Sonya Abrego, design historian and professor who has taught at Parsons: School of Design, New York University and The Fashion Institute of Technology. “Like Tommy Ramone, he always wore a crop top in the Ramones.”

Meanwhile, in the world of athletics, the crop was a way for bodybuilder types to show off their muscles, but also a way to circumvent some early ’70s gym dress codes that prohibited men from getting dressed. shirtless.

SANTA MONICA – AUGUST 1976: (LR) Dee Dee Ramone, Tommy Ramone, Joey Ramone and Johnny Ramone of the rock and roll band ‘The Ramones’ (Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

“So you have these two different camps of guys who are comfortable in that style,” says Abrego.

The 80s and early 90s also had their fair share of representation of crop tops in the media.

In Rocky III, Apollo Creed rocked a cut off blue t-shirt and showed a serious happy trai. Johnny Depp iconically wore half a football shirt in Nightmare on Elm Street. wild cats‘ the entire costume budget was probably spent on them. Even Adam Sandler can be seen in a cropped MIT shirt (and puka shell necklace) in Aerial heads. Will Smith wore a midriff-bearing 76ers tee on an episode of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. Prince was known for rocking a crop, as was Mark Wahlberg in a Calvin Klein ad from the 90s.

A crop top and a necklace of pukka shells. Incredible. Credit: 20th Century Fox

The men’s crop top has always been associated with athleticism, punk rock and masculinity – so why is it being mocked now?

“In my mind and experience, most athletic, athletic, and streetwear apparel got really big and baggy in the early ’90s,” says Abrego. “T-shirts were super long, and that’s where I see it coming to an end. In the 90s, if you saw this kind of crop top, say like in an old movie or something, it read like 80s.”

But in the 90s, the male crop top was also moving away from athletics into the world of fashion, where it became a true symbol of sexiness and androgyny, as evidenced most famously in the iconic Calvin ad Klein from the 90s which stars Kate Moss and a burly Mark. Whalberg in matching black crop tops.

“After AIDS, there was this backlash of straight men who didn’t want to be seen as gay,” said Dr Shaun Cole, associate professor of fashion at the Winchester School of Art. identifier. “Fashion, too, has traditionally been derided as frivolous and feminine.”

But while homophobia and toxic masculinity may have killed off the masculine crop top (and other stripped styles) for straight men for nearly two decades, the style has slowly caught on.

In 2014, rapper Kid Cudi performed at Coachella in a red crop top and looked incredibly sexy. Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott made headlines for wearing a button-up cropped top in the 2016 NFL Draft. The former Ohio State running back was known to roll up his jersey to show off his abs during games — a practice oddly banned by the NCAA in 2015.

“I’m known as the half-shirt hero, so I had to step out on the red carpet in a crop top,” Elliott explained.

Designers like Gucci, Fendi, Telfar and others sent male models to the FW20 catwalk with tops cut just above the navel. And on the internet, we shouted at the return of the crop top.

On the Tumblr Crop Tops are for Guys blog, user-submitted photos of guys in crop tops are posted in a bid to restore “the glory days when it was common for guys to wear cropped shirts.” Tweets calling for the normalization of the male cropped look have also gone viral.

There will, of course, be challenges in bringing the crop top back to a very wide range of men. Like a twitter user pointed out, men who don’t sport a shiny six-pack abs don’t have the luxury of embracing the bold style due to the very real possibility of them being harassed or ridiculed for it. But fuck that. We encourage all men to start wearing one with confidence whenever they want.

So if you feel compelled to grab your scissors and cut the bottom off an old T-shirt and wear it to the gym or the grocery store or wherever you feel like it, I implore you to do so. And if you’re worried about ruining a perfectly fine shirt, you can shop the styles below.


Men’s Workout Cropped Tank Top


90s navy knit shirt

international athlete

Speedo Vintage Logo Heathered Crop Top


COLLUSION Revere striped cropped shirt with raw hem


Coors Rodeo Crop Top