The fire in the belly: the return of crop tops for men | Fashion

Oith Donald Trump attempting to cut funds from the US Postal Service to scrap mail-in ballots ahead of the November election, fashion is fighting back. A £15 ($20) long-sleeved crop top with the image of five envelopes outlined in different colors from the USPS online store became a coveted item, selling out over the weekend.

“I bought the crop top because I like the retro style,” says Jay M, a digital artist who bought one, “and (it) promotes body positivity among men. I guess the element subversive is an added bonus.

Its popularity has prompted the question: when is a garment for men and when is it for women? The cut of the crop top, with its belly-revealing length, suggests youth, confidence and sexual vitality. But, as a symbol of both body-positive queer culture (see the cast of Queer Eye and Lil Nas X) and all-American jockism, it’s also an item of clothing whose ability to annoy and subvert does not shows no signs of stopping anytime soon.

“Men’s clothing is increasingly embracing what used to be seen as feminine clothing – high heels, jewellery, ruffles, gloves, capes – and I think that’s partly due to changing perceptions and a more great acceptance of different forms of masculinity,” says Kati Chitrakorn. , editor-in-chief of Vogue Business.

But according to Crop Tops Are For Guys on Tumblr, the garment didn’t start out as women’s clothing at all. “The truth about the crop top movement is that it’s been around since the 1970s,” he says. “The cropped shirt was originally created by men for men and was part of men’s fashion for years before women started wearing them.” The site says it started in the early 1970s when bodybuilders cut off the bottom of their shirts to circumvent gym dress codes that prevented men from working out shirtless.

Allow Instagram content?

This article includes content provided by instagram. We ask for your permission before uploading anything, as they may use cookies and other technologies. To view this content, click on ‘Allow and continue’.

And in 2020, the crop top has continued to upset notions of male clothing. In a scene from the family flick Ropey Playing With Fire, wrestler-turned-actor John Cena wears a My Little Pony crop top, causing co-star Keegan Michael Key to shout, “His masculinity is not up for debate!”

It was an odd twist on how Hollywood has traditionally treated clothing. In the 80s and 90s it had strong “himbo” connotations, with many types of jocks wearing cropped tops, exemplified by AC Slater from Saved By the Bell, Alex Winter in Bill & Ted (a third episode of which will be released next). next week) and Patrick Swayze and Keanu Reeves (again) in Point Break.

Lil Nas X in his cropped Christopher John Rogers costume at the American Music Awards. Photo: Kevin Winter/Getty Images for dcp

But when Ilan Mitchell-Smith showed up to scare his brother Bill Paxton in 1985’s Weird Science, wearing Kelly LeBrock’s crop top and pants, it doubled as a commentary on expected male outfits. Mitchell-Smith, as Paxton’s physically inferior and highly intimidated “little” brother, was, in a bit of a drag, having the final say on Paxton gaining dominance via the push-button crop top aesthetic.

A year later, on the cover of his Parade album, Prince, in a skin-tight button-up crop top, repositioned it as sexy and high fashion. And in terms of fashion, it stayed there. Whether it’s the fall-winter 2020 look by French designer Ludovic de Saint Sernin (partly bare shoulders, worn on the bias), the neon green cropped puffer jacket by Vetements, the Watermelon Sugar cropped sweater by Harry Styles or the Christopher John Rogers’ green suit he designed for Lil Nas X’s appearance at the American Music Awards.

Prince on tour in 1986 in a crop top.
Prince on tour in 1986 in a crop top. Photography: Rob Verhorst/Redferns

Like the cropped shorts, the men’s crop top has a retro sensibility and a sense of exposition that came with the post-lockdown release of men’s wardrobes, a sex appeal that contrasts with women’s fashion, which is, according to Chitrakorn, “focused on bodily diversity and attenuation of objectification”.