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How to dress: crop tops for grown-ups

Link to video: How to wear grown-up crop tops

Fashion is ruthless in killing off perfectly nice-looking trends simply because they’ve become too easy and comfortable. The fashion police are feared with good reason: they will turn against us, the people, at a moment’s notice.

Take the hipbone-length waistline – as in a jacket or blazer that ends midway between waist and thigh; a sweatshirt or jumper smoothed down a cosy few inches over the waistband of your skirt, jeans or trousers; as in an untucked shirt or a suit jacket.

That’s right, as in what you’re wearing now. And what the person next to you is wearing now. The demise of the neat, body-cinching waistband in favour of a rumpled low-tide line at roughly hipbone height is a consequence of womenswear becoming more androgynous (more low-rise jeans and trousers, fewer full skirts or fully tailored dresses), and both womenswear and menswear becoming more casual (loose sweatshirts and untucked shirts becoming acceptable casual wear).

One mini-rebellion against the low-tide line took the form of the enforced tucking in of shirts which, for one heady summer, became a with-us-or-against-us line in the sand drawn by hipsters. The new rebellion is more brutal: tucking in the bottom few inches of your top layer is no longer enough. You have to chop it off and leave it exposed.

This season’s high-flying tops end suddenly at the waist, so that the waistband of trousers or skirts is revealed. This is a grown-up version of the trend for crop tops: the silhouette is similar, but without the display of abdomen flesh. The wider the top at the point where it is lopped off, the more avant garde the look, so a tailored top that ends with a few inches of breathing space around the waist is a subtle take; an oversized sweatshirt sliced in half has a street-style mood. The waistband should be neat, but simple. (A vest tucked into trousers to guard against flashing flesh is acceptable; a showy belt is not.)

It feels a bit odd, as if you have caught your top in a door and ripped it in half. But that’s the point. Because if you’re in your comfort zone, you are out of fashion.

• Jess wears top, £429, by Preen, from fenwick.co.uk. Culottes, £50, topshop.com. Sandals, £29.99, zara.com.

Stylist: Lucy Trott at Carol Hayes Management. Hair and makeup: Beth Alderson at Carol Hayes Management.

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