meIt started, as it often does these days, in the gym. I mean the bare stomach mania. A few years ago I noticed that the women around me started coming to class wearing leggings and just a sports bra, or just a crop top. Just like that, the vests that used to go over sports bras were… gone.
Mysterious, I thought. I mean, it’s not like it’s summer or anything. To my knowledge, there was no national shortage of tank tops. Everything was the same, except there was bare skin where the bottom half of a T-shirt usually goes. And it wasn’t just the urge to flex flatter, toned abs. What intrigued me was that these women wandering around naked to the waist weren’t sticking their bellies in or squinting at their reflection every two minutes. A gap in the stomach had started to look almost normal.
Well, it definitely is now; it is no longer necessary for the top and bottom halves of a set to be joined. In fact, it is considered much smarter if they don’t. What began in the locker room quickly took over the red carpet, where a bare midriff has become the modern cleavage, with Zendaya sophia loren of our days. (The neckline is now terribly 20th century.)
Gwyneth Paltrow was an early adopter of this, pioneering the visible tummy. (I’m pretty sure she could recognize her navel in an alignment). As early as 1998, Donna Karan’s on-screen wardrobe for the film adaptation of Alfonso Cuarón’s Great Expectations included a emerald green two piece that framed an isosceles triangle with a bare belly. (To date, my deep, deep reading proposal on Paltrow’s Tao, subtitle: “Why Gwyneth Paltrow Was Right About Literally Everything All The Time,” remains unaccountably uncommissioned, but I’ll be sure to keep you posted.)
The modern midriff gap sits about six inches higher than the exposed bellies of the Britney era. Whereas low-rise jeans from the 1990s exposed skin south from the waist, as far down as the elastic on your panties, the 21st-century version rises from your waist.
The queen of this, and much more, of course, but without a doubt of this, is Beyoncé. I would say Beyoncé in a pencil skirt and crop top, accessorized with cat-eye glasses and a sky-high sandal, is the ultimate Beyoncé. This was what she wore for most of 2013, which was also, fact fans, the year that Bey came up with the trick of surprise: release a whole album out of the blue. In other words, 2013 Beyoncé essentially set the rules for how we live now. It’s her world, etc.
Mere mortals can never hope to look like Beyoncé, but she made bare midriffs a possibility for bodies beyond preteen sylphs who had previously been the only safe creatures to go there. And what got hot on the red carpet and picked up speed on the treadmill has now become a part of everyday life. The rise of sweatpants, which were a teen staple before 2020 but exploded into a universal uniform during what I now like to indirectly refer to as the Great Disgust, because I’m as bored talking about it as you are, was a key factor in cutting the bottom inches off the top. It is impossible to stuff anything into sweatpants even with the appearance of a stylish silhouette. A drawstring waist will always look best with bare skin, so the most streamlined summer combination for sweatpants is an abbreviated tank top or cropped hoodie.
And now, at Boden, proof has arrived that the bare midriff has entered the fray for summer 2022. The home of cute, wearable, and unapologetic holiday attire for adults has created what its designers call the “vintage of the Kisses”. This two-piece almost meets in the middle, like drapes or an air kiss, darling, giving even the slightest hint of bare skin without needing to freeze your kidneys. by boden cotton crop top Y Long tiered skirt Lorna usher in a new stylish era for the stomach gap.
The tummy gap has narrowed and it’s coming to a vacation wardrobe near you. And with a crop of kisses, you won’t even need to hold your breath.