When Kendall Jenner showed up to church on Easter Sunday wearing white culottes and a criss-cross belly-baring crop top, the universal response was pretty much “is she kidding?”
Twitter started blowing up with people weighing on the model and reality star’s outfit, with one user writing: “I would love to know where Kendall Jenner thinks she’s going to with that crop top because it sure isn’t church.” And another: “Kendall Jenner you have a cute body & all but crop tops are not church appropriate.” And yet another: “Uh uh @kendallJenner you do not go to church dressed like that honey, even if you only do it once a year.”
Jenner isn’t the first person in the public eye to raise a few eyebrows for wearing a crop. “Vanderpump Rules” star Scheana Marie wore a bustier crop top to her wedding earlier this year, drawing plenty of mixed reactions. And there have been more than a few controversial crop top moments in pop culture over the years from Britney Spears—who was blasted for setting a bad example for wearing a teeny top when she was 17 years old in her “Hit Me Baby One More Time” video—to Nicki Minaj who’s made a habit (and a career) of wearing tops that show off underboob (just writing underboob kind of makes us wish we had come of age in the 1950s.)
Still, there have been of other cues that lead us to believe wearing crop tops is acceptable, basically anywhere. Preppy retailer J.Crew debuted surprisingly stylish wedding crop tops this year, a then-pregnant Kerry Washington wore a beaded Prada crop top to the SAG Awards beautifully in 2014, and all you need to do is take a walk through mass retailers like Macy’s and Banana Republic, and you’ll see crop tops on shelves.While we aren’t ones to judge anyone’s fashion choices too harshly (the general StyleCaster mantra is dress to make yourself happy) Jenner’s church crop top excursion did get us thinking about some general crop top wearing rules to live by in the coming months.
Whether you like it or not, you’re going to make a big statement when you walk out in a crop top, so keep that in mind if you’re planning to wear one. That said, rocking a crop on an evening date, to a concert, to a party, or to an outdoor brunch is perfectly acceptable. Not quite as willing to show as much skin as Kendall? Find styles that are slightly boxy, and pair it with high-waisted jeans, shorts, or skirts.
When is it not okay to break out a crop top? On occasions where you want to be remembered for looking appropriate—to a religious ceremony, a funeral, dinner with your boyfriend’s parents or your boss, or to a job interview. Also, keep in mind that—under no circumstances—should your crop top ever be so cropped that your boobs are exposed. If you’re going short, keep it a few inches above your bellybutton. Period.
While there are certainly no super-concrete rules for crop top wearing—a chic, more conservative style might work in your casual office environment—it pays to remember that you want people to remember you, not just your outfit, so dress accordingly. And, call us old-fashioned, but we don’t think it’s necessary to take a fashion risk every time you step outside.