After years of dealing with soggy T-shirts during 99 days of summer workouts, buzzy activewear brands—like Outdoor Voices, Aday, and Heroine Sport—have finally come up with a cool solution: the cropped sports bra. These lengthier styles are sexy, chic, and capable of pulling double duty as tops—thanks to ample ribcage coverage.
“They’re a bit classier than walking around in a sports bra, and a great way for women to feel comfortable in their own skin,” says SoulCycle instructor Charlee Atkins, who was an early adopter of the trend. Plus, she says, “It’s summer, and we’re sweating.” She regularly wears cropped sports bras—even when she’s not tapping it back. Her pro styling tip? “They need to cover lower than the average sports bra, and it’s also equally important to have a nice shape,” she says.
They’re a bit classier than walking around in a sports bra, and a great way for women to feel comfortable in their own skin.”
And the look isn’t just showing up in fitness studios, either. It’s also appearing on fashion runways, where it’s evolved in recent seasons (think: intricate, knotted detailing, higher necklines, reflective touches, and glow-in-the-dark graphics)—causing stylists like Felicity Sargent to take notice.
“A few years ago, the crop top felt more flirty and feminine—paired with little ruffled skirts at Isabel Marant—or really sporty and sexy, like at VFILES or Alexander Wang,” she says. “Now, we’re seeing a whole new side to belly-baring tops that strikes a really fun masculine-feminine balance. The oversized menswear look is so huge, and it’s been fun to see how the crop top interacts with that aesthetic.”
Yes, crop tops are seriously trending. But how do you wear them IRL?
The possibilities are pretty much limitless, so to help you out, here are a few cool-girl styling tips from Sargent.
1. Picnic birthday party in the park: cut-out bra
“I love the idea of pairing a white cut-out bra with a white cotton or linen button-down worn open and high-waisted denim with a looser leg—accessorized with slides and maybe even a straw hat. My life hack for sourcing easy summer button-downs is Muji,” says Sargent.
Our pick: Aday Strike It Up Bra, $60
2. Epic concert: mesh-inset style
“The activewear mesh trend gives a whole rock ‘n’ roll vibe,” explains the stylist. “Pair it with high-waisted black Levi’s shorts, an oversized, military-inspired shirt jacket that’s at least as long as the shorts, and a black, worn-in, lace-up bootie.”
Our pick: Beyond Yoga Quilt Ahead Keyhole Bralette, $88
3. Bridal shower: shell-like crop
“This is one of the most versatile fashion-meets-fitness pieces,” Sargent says. “It’s chic paired with a high-waisted, midi- or maxi-pleated skirt–à la Gucci—a statement earring, and a nice strappy sandal.”
Our pick: No Ka’oi Lani Bra, $164
4. Chill night of yoga, Netflix, and Seamless with your BFF: strappy sports bra
“I love the idea of wearing an easy little crop with your favorite pair of worn-in sweats rolled down at the waist, ‘90s style—or really big, slouchy, boyfriend jeans [with] cute boy shorts underneath that peek out the top,” she offers.
Our pick: Chill by Will Alive Bra, $69
5. Busy day of sightseeing on vacation: halter crop
“Try a retro look and pair it with cute short jogging shorts—maybe layered with a longer biker short underneath—and a boxy, cropped hoodie you can easily take off or tie around the waist,” suggests Sargent.
Our pick: Heroine Sport Halter Bra, $100
6. Afternoon of scouring vintage stores and flea markets: slash-back, high-neck style
Our pick: Outdoor Voices Tri-Tone Slashback Crop, $60
When you’re at the studio, here are the most opaque leggings to pair with your new cropped sports bra, and some stylish sweatpants that might soon replace tights as your go-to.