Every season, there are certain items paraded down the runway that have that mouth-gaping “wow” factor, spreading quickly from the catwalks to every well-heeled editrix and blogger like a coveted pandemic (Givenchy panthers or Stella McCartney grapefruits, anyone?). Just as frequently though, a tricky trend comes sauntering out that leaves us scratching our lushly-maned heads and wondering how on earth to stylishly conquer such a foreign thing. Admittedly when crop tops started trickling down the catwalks again a few years ago, after countless seasons ruled by ‘oversized’ and ‘boyfriend’ shirts and sweaters, I was left with my head in a cloud of question marks— how am I to wear this without evoking trashy club rat circa 1994?
There are a few items of that questionable nature this spring 2012 season. For one, the track pant seemed to have had that half-repulsed/half-intrigued effect on many, and the sudden resurgence of powdery pastels wowed many but left others wondering how to wear it without looking like an Easter egg. And of course, there’s the midriff-baring bralette top—the subject of this “how to wear” story—that have sporadically graced some street style blogs here and there, though definitely not as readily embraced as, say, the mullet skirt. The stumbling block with this trend is that it requires the showcasing of what many consider to be their “problem” area—the midsection—and not as easily adaptable to one’s existing wardrobe. Something to be considered, though, is that there are no rules in fashion (well…there are a few, they just change all the time) and that any trend can be tweaked and finessed to fit different personal styles. For example, a bralette top doesn’t necessarily need to display your entire torso—though you can of course if you’ve got the goods! There are more modest ones that exude more of a “tankini” persona and show only a sliver of skin, which may be a good place to start if you’re only looking to dip your toes into these bralette-infested waters.
Another great starting point for navigating this trend is to compare the bralette looks trotted out by the designers and finding a style that you like (Dolce & Gabbana showed theirs with ultra feminine full skirts, while Peter Dundas went gothic-glam with black lace numbers at Emilio Pucci). Of course, with the power of the interwebbloggle (that’s a word, right?) these days, it’s easy to click through your favourite roster of bloggers and editors to see how they’ve interpreted the look and take inspiration from that.
Conveniently for those of us currently basking in the glow of summer, the warmer weather is a great time to give this look a go if it’s something you’d like to try out. For one, it makes much more sense temperature-wise to show bare skin in the warmer months as opposed to the dead of winter, and all the summer events (barbecues, outdoor concerts) are appropriate situations to try this trend. Take a look at the styling methods below and see if they inspire you enough to take a gander at your very own bralette-based ensemble.
Look 1: (Wear it) Over-The-Top
A great way of addressing this belly-baring trend without actually baring your belly is to wear it over a top. Make sure that it’s a fitted or next-to-skin top as billowy or thick ones will cause unsightly lumps, and there’s a good chance your bralette top may not even fit over top of all the excess fabric. Kill two birds with one fashionable stone by pairing a bright mesh (sport-luxe trend) or scarf print top underneath your crop top.
Look 2: Blazin’ Lace
A sharp blazer is usually a good way of bringing a classic element to any ensemble, and in this case it’s no exception. Throwing a structured jacket over your favourite bralette gives an instant dose of sophistication, and a streamlined pencil skirt or high-waisted trouser as a bottom completes the ‘grown up’ bralette look.
Look 3: Cut It Out
For those of you who want a bralette look that’s more badass than babelicious, look no further than options with peek-a-boo cutouts in the form of “bandage strips” for something more Gareth Pugh than glamorama.
Illustrations via WhenImAnOldMan