Spring fashion trend: How to pull off a crop top

Straight from the Nicki Minaj collection, this sexy-meets-sweet

Straight from the Nicki Minaj collection, this sexy-meets-sweet crop top ($16.99) and skinny high waist pencil skirt ($22.99) features spring blossoms. Sold separately at Kmart and kmart.com (Credit: Nicki Minaj collection)

If only.

If only you could wear the season's ubiquitous crop top (midriff shirt, belly top, short shirt ... call it what you will), you probably would. For those of you who are abdominally blessed, they're kind of a no-brainer and there's plenty to choose from -- casual to all-out elegant -- at every price. And truthfully, a flash or more of tummy is fresh and sexy and sometimes, depending on how you wear it, sort of sweet.

The problem is that for many women, the notion of revealing their midsection is downright horrifying. "It's fantastic if you're young and have the midriff," says fashion expert Jacqui Stafford. "If you have spent hours on your abs, I would suggest you show them off just like any other part of your body that is great."

But, says US Weekly's fashion director Sasha Charnin Morrison, "The Hollywood girls and others who work really hard on their bodies are the ones who should be going with the trend ... and the trend is huge, huge, huge. But not all trends are for everybody."

"That said, if you are thicker, and you're comfortable and confident in it, then by all means wear a crop top and more power to you," she says, adding that curvy Mindy Kaling, star of the "Mindy Project," recently flaunted a Top Shop crop ensemble on the red carpet and did it well.

Some of the freshest crops this season came off designer Peter Som's luxe spring runway. They were easy, breezy and menswear-inspired -- and clearly meant for toned bodies. "Part of my inspiration was the influence of sports and gym culture in our everyday lives -- and that athletic sensibility came through with the midriff."

As for crop tops only being for the young, Som says, "I think age is only a number. If you want to show off your abs, then go for it. If it makes you feel fabulous, then why not?"

LAYERING VS. CROPPING

Love the look but know it's absolutely wrong for you? Layering is one way to fake it.

"A T-shirt or long-sleeved tank topped with a midriff top that is embellished or cap- sleeved could work," says US Weekly fashion direction Sasha Charnin Morrison. "It's kind of a modern take." Adds style expert Jacqui Stafford, "slipping a long, slimming tank underneath a bulkier cropped piece is a way to get the illusion."

There are also plenty of easy-to-wear "twofer" (as in two-for-one) tops this season that feature a more substantial cropped knit piece with attachment of flowy fabric or shirttails. They're easy wearing for most.

And, overall, whether you're fudging a cropped look or really rocking one, Stafford has some advice. "Stay away from pairing it with a bum-skimming miniskirt and heels. A great, plain skinny pant, flat shoes -- that look is really great. The trick for trends like this is to isolate them."

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