Karl Lagerfeld has been credited with saying, "Fashion is the healthiest motivation for losing weight." And while I'm not sure I completely agree, it's certainly true that Spring 2012's midriff-baring styles are enough to send any woman hurtling to the nearest treadmill.
Don't call it a comeback
It's easy to point to the '80s and declare this season's look a replay, but the truth is, high waists and demure lines make the midriff of Spring 2012 more Marilyn Monroe than Madonna. Runways from the likes of Prada, Nina Ricci, Miu Miu, Dolce & Gabbana and beyond hosted models sporting bare midriffs and often high-waisted, ladylike trousers and skirts.
Celebrities weigh in
Not surprisingly, celebs have been among the first to jump on the bare-ab bandwagon, perhaps relishing the opportunity to display the goods after spending hours at the gym. Gwyneth Paltrow was an early adopter when crop tops sprouted up last spring; she even showed her taut tummy in a Pucci ensemble at last year's Emmys. Just days ago, singer-songwriter Lana Del Rey showed up on American Idol in a chic, white two-piece outfit with a full skirt and midriff-baring, high-collared top.
How low will you go?
So celebrities are on board. And models can clearly carry it off. But what about you and me? Can a real woman really afford to bare her belly, and be taken seriously? Maybe not, so certainly keep the midriff under wraps at the office (or under Spanx if that's what you prefer.)
Since this look is really just about a taste of skin, not gratuitous nudity, you don't have to be perfect or devoid of insecurities to carry off a crop top this season. This year's look bares just a peep of toned midriff, not the expanse of entire six packs.
What to wear?
Retro-inspired styles abound, like ASOS's white hemmed crop shirt ($35.81); while sporty styles, like TopShop's Gold Studded Tee ($44), pair well with everything from trousers to pencil skirts. And for the most chic of looks, pair a crop top with a jacket by night. I like the Aztec Lace Crop Top in black, $32 at TopShop, best topped with a biker jacket of sorts.
And speaking of bikes, since embracing bare midriffs for spring will certainly appeal most to those who feel good in their own skin, there just may be a spin class or two in your future. Turns out Karl may be on to something after all.
— Carolyn Brundage is the founder of tampabay.prettycity.com, a guide to the best in local beauty. Need beauty advice? Tweet up with Carolyn on Twitter @tampabaypretty.