Madonna, Britney Spears, the Spice Girls—what do all these pop stars have in common? Besides making catchy tunes, they were all queens of the crop top in the ‘90s and early 2000s—a belly-baring, controversial fashion statement touting tan bodies and solid abs. Cue the “Hit Me Baby One More Time” music video.

While the trend took a brief hiatus, crop tops have grown to be a major sensation once again. You can hardly walk into any retail store or scroll through social media without seeing some variation of the midriff-baring item. Here’s a quick fashion flashback into one of the hottest trends on the market.

Fashion Flashback: The Crop Top’s History

The concept of a crop top was actually introduced to the Western World in 1893, when foreign belly dancers wearing bedlahs (a two-piece costume showing the mid-section) gave a performance at the World’s Fair in Chicago. While it was an eye-catching design, it was considered too “exotic” at the time for Western fashion. However, World War II changed all of that when fabric had to be rationed.

Officially introduced to American fashion in the 1940s, this crop top was much different than what you might imagine today. It was often collared and had short sleeves. It wasn’t until the hippie movement and aerobic fascination in the ‘70s and ‘80s that the style was popularized. Think of the movie characters from Flashdance and Dirty Dancing.

While it was entertaining to see Alex and Baby rocking super cool cropped styles, today’s versions aren’t as skin tight or high-cut, making them more comfortable for all body types.

Now, you may be asking why crop tops are so popular today—the answer could be a culmination of societal changes. For example, the resurgence of high-waisted jeans and skirts pairs well with a crop top for many fashionistas. Also, women have finally experienced a wave of body positivity and female empowerment, allowing them to feel comfortable no matter what they wear. And of course, crop tops continue to be seen across runways, and on the backs of celebrities and influencers, no doubt aiding in keeping the style alive. A-listers like Kylie Jenner, Priyanka Chopra and Hailey Baldwin (Bieber) have all embraced the skin-showing trend, and you can too.

Here’s how to make it part of your style.

There’s One for Every Occasion

From chic to street and hooded to tees, the variations of crop tops are seemingly endless. However, the majority of the trend really boils down to three basic foundations: the tee, the racer tank and the hoodie.

The Festival Staple

(Above: Next Level – Festival Women’s Cali Crop – 5080) *COMING FALL 2019*

Festival season is officially here. Pair this boxy crop with jean shorts and boots to slay all day.

The Casual Night Out

(Above: Bella + Canvas – Women’s Racerback Cropped Tank – 6682)

Basics are underrated. This racerback cropped tank is perfect for a casual night out and can be accented with a long necklace for extra style points.

The Athleisure Look

(Above: Independent – Women’s Lightweight Crop Sweatshirt – AFX64CRP)

Grab your favorite yoga pants and pair them with a cropped hoodie for heading to the gym, running errands or sporting comfy style during laidback outings.

And for those who think the trend is dying, rising British streetwear label, Represent, has its SS19 line full of cropped hoodies for women, in addition to high fashion cropped styles seen in Tome’s SS19 lineup. Suffice to say, the crop top is definitely here to stay.

Don’t fear the style—embrace it. With summer right around the corner, it’s a perfect staple for warm weather, festivals, concerts and pretty much everything in between. What are you waiting for? Crop it like it’s hot.

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