Fashion's midriff meter is soaring this season. Crop tops, cutouts and bustiers were a staple on the spring-summer runways, and navel-skimming styles have conquered young Hollywood, too. But don't rush to reopen that bellybutton piercing just yet. While tiny tops are back in a big way, the trick this time around is to expose just a sliver of skin at or above your natural waist–a strategic placement that emphasizes the most narrow part of your frame. This is how our favorite ethical designers tackled the trend.
BUSTIERS & BRALETTES
The boldest moves in this camp came from Australian label Ginger & Smart, whose bralette and bustier tops are styled to suggest a heady, improbable bikinis-meet-boardroom scenario. If you have the courage, inclination and ultra-toned torso to show this much skin, don't forget the jacket, or you might find yourself redirected to the nearest beach party.
To work this look, two-piece suiting is key: high-waisted pants and skirts cover up much of what a crop top reveals, and wearing matching separates keeps the silhouette long and streamlined. Take a cue from Katy Perry, whose silver jacquard number by Suno has all the elegance–but a bit more oomph–than a shimmery one-piece dress. For daytime, Samantha Pleet's Mirage set is easily workable IRL: the tank is just a touch shorter than normal, and a partially elastic waistband means you can adjust the skirt to sit at the waist or hip.
A slightly more timid take on the trend, cutouts offer a hint of northern exposure with far less potential for a fashion fail. Stella McCartney led the pack this season with a latticed, peekaboo strip that intersects an ethereal floral dress. Samantha Pleet struck an earthier note with her Scout dress, which features an adjustable slit that creates the illusion of separates while revealing just a glimpse of the upper abdomen.
Can't get enough of this look? Take in all of the midriff-driven style magic happening on our Out On Top Pinterest board.