Are we late to the party, or are crop tops sweeping the menswear world (again)? A product of the ‘70s (read: sartorial dark ages) thanks to bodybuilders attempting to skirt gym rules against toplessness, it was quickly adopted by pop culture, landing memorable appearances on a young Johnny Depp (whatever happened to him?) in Nightmare on Elm Street, on Prince (bless his soul) in his Mountains video, on a hunky Tyler Hoechlin in Everybody Wants Some!!, and later on Marky Mark for CK Jeans.
Meaning to say, crop tops have graced the bodies of all kinds of men – muscular, waif-thin, and everything in between. Except, of course, men with chunky midriffs. Because dressing up is all about making you look like the best version of yourself, not the worst. If you’re not liking what you see in the mirror between the nipples and the crotch, forget you ever thought about a crop top.
In the past decade, however, crop tops seem to have become the domain of women. They turn up routinely on female stars and models like Kylie Jenner, Rihanna, Gigi Hadid, even Amal Clooney. It’s a go-to wardrobe pick for sexy-but-not-too-revealing, and for those days you want to tell the world you worked on your core.
These days, most men can’t even contemplate the idea of wearing a crop-top – even if they do have sculpted torsos. It seems somewhat effeminate, attention-seeking, perhaps even cheeky. Understandable, considering how the gay community has been early adopters of this trend (as usual). “I don’t want to look gay,” says the average man being confronted with a crop top. But boy, have things changed.
Crop tops have seen an unlikely revival in the last two years both on runways and, surprise, on a properly masculine NFL player. Cue Ezekiel Elliot, who appeared on the NFL Draft red carpet (read: testosterone fest) in a crop top. And not just your average crop top, but a crop top shirt. Button-down – up to the mid-row of his six-pack, that is – plus a pretty bowtie to top off the whole look.
If that isn’t a cue for men all around the world to embrace the crop-top (and more core-blasting workouts and/or ab-firming creams), we don’t know what is. Come to think of it, it’s little surprise that crop tops are making a comeback. After all, with its humble origins in weight rooms and casual skin-baring flair, the crop top fits perfectly into the lexicon of athleisure – the sartorial buzzword of our generation.
How to wear a crop top, or rather, what to wear it with, is pretty straightforward. Pair them with cropped pants for a cutting edge, fashionable look, or go with denim. Because everything goes with denim, and it hearkens back to the crop top’s West Coast, Venice Beach outdoor gym origins. Wear them loose for a more relaxed look – too tight and you risk looking like Bruno.
If you’re looking for some serious backup to help you make that leap, we’ve rounded up a gallery of nice-looking men totally rocking the crop top look. Not that we’re trying to persuade anyone to put on that still-controversial piece of menswear – we just want you to know what you might be getting into. Good luck.