Crop tops are not going to lose their ground in the next season. Runways of ready-to-wear Spring 2015 fashion weeks are the best proof of that.
From New York to Tokyo this ultimately popular piece is presented in great variety of cuts from revealing bralets and miniature bandeaus from Moschino and Diesel Black Gold to modest tops from Carolina Herrera.
In this post I summarize the way designers suggest to wear crop tops for the upcoming season.
First, let’s have a look what cuts and styles of crop tops are in trend and also pay attention to colour and prints.
Colour and cut
Trend 1. Keep it simple and modest.
Plain colours and clean cut – are keywords for styling crop tops.
Look for box shaped tops either with short, ¾ sleeves or sleeveless. Colours: white, black, pastels, rich jewellery or deep earthy tones.
On the picture below flats of catwalk models can give you a hint what to look for. There are also some similar models from selected retailers just to illustrate the idea.
Trend 2. For those who prefer more skimpy clothing and convinced that crop tops are made for revealing not hiding buzz words are cut outs and bralets.
By the way, despite of apparent simplisity bralets possess more intricate cut than crop tops. Darts and reliefs here are used far beyond utilitarian reasons and make statement on their own. It is fascinating how intricate the cut could became with 3D modelling and advanced manufacturing technologies.
Trend 3. In between of extremes of two said trends lies more subtle approach – transparency. Sheer fabrics and laces neither hide nor reveal giving full play to the sartorial manoeuvres.
Well, we have sorted out what kind of crop tops are in trend now and finally came to the main question – How to wear them in the upcoming season?
Though ready-to-wear catwalks had shown crop tops with quite variety of bottoms, skirts are far more often the choice rather than, say, shorts or pants.
Crop tops with skirts
Waist line. Natural or high waist line. Length. Popular lengths are mini, over and under the knee and maxi. Style. A-line, pencil skirt, flared, pleated. The last two generally teamed with fitted tops to balance proportions.
Crop tops with pants
Waist line. For pants waist line rise is more democratic and varies from low through natural to high waist line. Length. Length of pants for crop tops depends greatly on cut and silhouette. It could be ankle, 7/8 or full length. Style. Culottes, tapered, flared, straight.
Here it is the quintessence of the above.
It is all coming together now, isn’t it? Surprising or not, but there a logic in what retalers are stocking up for the next season and with a little breakdown world of fashion is not that random any more.
For the complete collection of crop tops from Spring 2015 Ready-to-Wear shows check my Pinterest board
While looking for a way to organize and logically structure my own wardrobe I came across different approaches. It was quite a mix from colour priority method where all your items are put in a line of rainbow colours (or Pantone palette) to “grab and go” style where items hanged together formed a ready to wear outfit.
The problem is neither of these methods is optimized for viewing. To put an outfit together you need to pull everything out in order to see what you have, that takes too much time sometimes.
For me organized wardrobe is not only of a tidy appearance, but also allows to create looks easy and fast, to keep track of items I have, and to see if my new purchase will match any of it.
The solution comes from Google play – the wardrobe organizer apps.
I really like the concept of having the entire wardrobe on a palm of my hand. I downloaded and tried most of closet sorting apps. Here is my pick of the best 5.
One of the most frequent problems in creating contrast in an outfit is putting together garments with no obvious connections. Items with opposite characteristics placed next to each other often produce excessive contrast which can not only be bold and unflattering but also disintegrate the outfit’s composition. For example, neon-green chiffon skirt and lemon yellow bulky jumper quite seldom will be a part of a balanced look on their own.
When an outfit consists of unrelated and disjoint colours, textures or patterns, to unify them it’s essential to make a “bridge”, create an intermediary. Its purpose is to strengthen the connection between garments and create complete story. It’s predictable that to be effective this “bridge” item requires similarity with the elements which are meant to be linked.
Where to use?
Areas of intermediary’s use are usually identical with fields of contrast. Thus, if we use two unrelated colours to create a contrast it will be logical to balance it out by another element of colour. The same is true to patterns or textures. Let’s go into details for each of them.
Colour is the most usual area for applying an intermediary.
Colour temperature. It is popular opinion mentioned on many style blogs that warm and cold hues should not be used together. While I agree this is good general rule to avoid imbalance, the dots can still be connected.
The harmony of two different colour temperatures could be created with an intermediate that will tie the opposites.
A brief example can be seen in the sketch below. The top and the skirt are from different colour families – cold and warm. Together they look discordant and even conflicting. It is obvious that a link is needed. By bringing in shoes that support the pattern of the top and skirt’s hue the puzzle is solved and outfit regains its lost harmony.
Shoes as an intermediary for blouse and skirt
Hue. In the case of hue the contrast is usually created by complementary colours. They are opposite on the colour wheel, therefore have nothing in common. Placed next to each other they produce maximum vibrancy and contrast.
Adding the intermediary softens the contrast and creates a perceptual bridge between two colours. For example red and green could be linked by brown-red or brown-green as they are the exactly colours that will come out if red and green are mixed.
Red skirt and green blouse could be linked by brown-green clutch
Colour brightness. Too much difference in brightness can cause undesirable dramatic contrast. Employing in-between shades can help soften the look.
In the picture below the top and the skirt on the left create sharp dramatic contrast which overbalances girl’s gentle complexion. Following the same trail that helped us to unite hues before, we rely on the intermediary item. Here we introduce a jacket which adds third tonal characteristic and brings the look closer to perfection.
Sharp contrast of top and skirt is softened with in-between-tone jacket
This is the second area where the intermediary could be used.
Selecting in-between patterns requires a bit more sartorial funds as patterns consist of many different elements meant to be coordinated. In one of my previous posts I have explained the levels of pattern mixing. Therefore, I will only touch on the topic of setting an intermediate.
To improve the look’s aesthetic “bridge” patterns should resemble those already in use. Similarity could be either in style of lines, chromatic characteristics, or other levels of pattern coherence.
For example, if we combine geometric print with intricate abstract design linking pattern might remotely resemble both of them.
Striped dress shirt and floral skirt share nothing in colour scheme; their style of lines is also different. As intermediary, the plaid jacket incorporates skirt’s rich red-brown colour and shirt’s geometry
As I have mentioned before there are no common rules for texture mixing. However, the transition textures are expected to have similar attributes to those already in use.
Shape and volume
Shapes and volumes seldom require an intermediary. This means, as long as common sense is taking into account, it is difficult to make mistakes in this area.
As you have already noticed the process of “linking” parts of an outfit is not a subject for sweeping generalizations. It is not easy to set strict rules and provide common instructions to follow. All I can do is to outline the problem and set trend of thoughts. The rest is entirely up to you.
I’m sure, if a person knows about relations between elements described in this article they will tend to pay a little more attention to the sophisticated ritual of dressing. That will certainly produce noticeable and pleasant changes.
While putting an outfit we aim to create a composition where all details are in their place and the whole look is complete and pleasant to the eye.
There are a number of subjects to keep in mind when arranging a composition. The important one that I would like to talk about here is contrast.
The abstract idea of contrast is one of the fundamental principles of our Universe. Mountains and plains, oceans and dry lands, positive and negative charges, high and low pressure – they are all contrasting in their state or force, and it is through this interaction the word exists.
Recognising contrast is natural for humans. We differentiate objects because they are contrasting , we use this difference as a reference point.
For example, Eiffel tower (300m high) is quite lofty for an average human, but it is dwarfed by Burj Khalifa building (828m) in Dubai when two are put together.
Contrast and outfit layout
Back to the subject of clothing. Being curious human beings it is our second nature to look for new experiences. A visually interesting item in this regard would be something that induces our eyes to explore or as Diane Vreeland put it: “The eye has to travel”.
Introducing layers of complexity into the look by adding various textures or using multiple colours gets our attention. Put it another way, contrast is used to enhance an outfit by giving tedium an appeal, a life buoy, reducing the repetitive impact.
Contrast can be created in several areas
Colour. The same colour can look different depending on surroundings. It could be vibrant and bright next to complementary hue, or become subtle and dull whilst surrounded by analogous colours.
The same red necklace looks radiant and vivid on mint green background, but it mutes on cadmium red mannequin
Brightness is our perception of the colour luminance, how bright we see it. It is quite an interesting topic on itself, but I’ll explain it briefly below.
Ideally the difference of brightness in an outfit should be in direct relationships with wearers’ complexion. What I refer to here is the natural contrast created by skin, eyes, and hair tones. The more contrasting features woman has the wider brightness range in garments she could afford to wear. And on the contrary, the less contrasting appearance demands for the lower brightness contrast in clothes.
Back in the real world, the illustration below shows outfits made in contrasting colours. The sangria and blue dress on the left have low brightness contrast while the pink one at the right is much lighter than the jacket and so it will do great on person with high contrast complexion.
Steel blue jacket paired with equally bright dress (left) and lighter one (right)
The desaturated image shows clearly the difference in brightness level between two sets
Shape (volume). Arrangements of shapes that are slightly varied and irregular tend to hold the interest of a viewer longer than those perfectly even. Different forms can not only produce different moods but can also create an optical illusion. Anything will look bigger surrounded by smaller objects. And vice versa.
For example big bag would appear even bigger if it is carried by a petite girl. Or, speaking about moods, imagine fitted stiff coat with bulky scarf thrown upon it. Strict lines of a coat are perfectly unbalanced by the casual style of the scarf.
Texture. Creating contrast in textures is a great way to add an extra bit of interest and an elegant way show sartorial consciousness. It is a must for monochrome outfits. Whilst lacking the colour component the certain degree of excitement could be, nevertheless, created by using surface properties.
The simplest way to make texture contrast is to use fabrics with straight opposite characteristics: glossy – matt, sheer – opaque, stretchy – firm and so on. There is, unfortunately, no proven recipe book on how to mix multiple textures. Some experimentation and observation of what works is a way to go here.
Few notes to consider about textures:
Various textures reflect light differently. Nap fabrics (like velvet, fleece and felt) make colours appear more rich and saturated because of their fuzzy surface. In contrary, smooth and shiny ones reflect more light. That creates gloss and bleaches the surface. Therefore, the same colour in silk will appear lighter than on velvet.
Moreover, fabrics hold dyes differently. The colour on cotton gabardine will look a little bit lighter than on wool as wool tends to retain dye better.
Even though lack of variety can be tedious, contrast should be used with care. Too much of it and there will be several focal points competing for an attention and affecting unity of the overall look.
As you can see contrast is the ultimate attention grabber. It can work on many levels and is to be used with comprehension taking into account person’s style and personality.