Men and Crop Tops: A Fashion Revolution?

Christopher Collado
The teal crop top from Urban Outfitters. While women have been sporting crop tops for a long time, men are rarely seen wearing this fashion item.

Crop tops are known as a fun fashion look executed by women — but there has suddenly been a debate as to whether men should wear them too. Justin Bieber ignited this debate when he was recently spotted on the beach while wearing a cropped white tank top.

While it shouldn’t be a big deal for men to wear crop tops — this was once even considered a trend — Bieber, as one of the biggest male celebrities of this decade, is making a major fashion statement by sporting one. This statement could make wearing crop tops mainstream for men. The transgressive trend for men to wear crop tops may only now be on the cusp of conventional culture, but it’s been present in the gay community and club culture for decades. Websites like Marek + Richard market towards this demographic, offering a large collection of crop tops for men.

Prior to this, crop tops in mainstream fashion publications were only marketed toward women. Every major female celebrity throughout the past four decades has worn a crop top: from streetwear, to red carpets and even on stage. Cher and Madonna in the ‘80s and ‘90s commanded this look, while Britney Spears and Paris Hilton mastered it in the 2000s. And now in the 2010s, Rihanna and Miley Cyrus are embracing this trend. These female icons have made it normal for women to wear crop tops. However, it is a rarity to spot a male celebrity at a red carpet event, performance, movie or on the street wearing a crop top.

Tisch freshman Justin Verbiest expressed his frustration with the social norm limiting men from wearing crop tops. Verbiest said he’s a fan of the style, but feels as if he can’t wear one because it’s not a standard in men’s fashion, and there’s a certain vocabulary surrounding beauty for men versus beauty for women.

“It’s sad, because the male body is beautiful and crop tops only exploit that beauty in the best way,” Verbiest said. “I feel like men do not feel as beautiful as women do because [people] are taught that men are ‘hot’ or ‘sexy’ and women are ‘beautiful’ because that’s just the unfortunate society in which we grew up.”

Verbiest also noted that this standard is an obstacle for men embracing other traditionally female areas of fashion and even emotions.

“I feel that once men can see the beauty within our sex, it’ll be easier for us to wear makeup, paint our nails, show the world that we cry too, and strut across New York streets in crop tops,” Verbiest said.  “And I’m more than ready for that,”  Verbiest said.

However, CAS freshman Harry Rabindra said that men shouldn’t mind social constructs and that they should try the crop top trend if they have the confidence.

“I don’t think it’s a big deal that Justin Bieber and men in general wear crop tops,” Rabindra said. “Justin Bieber has a good body, and if he wants to show it, he should. I think men in general should wear crop tops if they feel comfortable — who am I to tell them they can’t?”

CAS freshman Michelle Mawere pointed out that the crop top trend isn’t new for men. She thinks that men should channel ‘90s pop culture icons while wearing crop tops.

“Sexy ‘90s men like Will Smith, Johnny Depp and Michael J. Fox sported crop tops and while showing off their toned lower abs, they made themselves 10 times more appealing,” Mawere said. “I don’t understand why men would shy away from crop tops because they’re ‘too feminine.’ It’s attractive to many women and if done right, and with confidence, it’s a great way to show off.”

The crop top should not be an article of clothing limited to women. If a man feels comfortable wearing a crop top, then he should wear it. Men of all body types should feel like wearing a crop top is an option for them. Just because it has been a female fashion staple in celebrity culture does not mean that men cannot also have a fashion revolution. It’s time for men to start wearing crop tops and look good doing it.

A version of this article appeared in the Monday, April 10 print edition. Email Christopher Collado at [email protected]

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