met started, as things often do today, at the gym. Naked belly mania, I mean. A few years ago I noticed that the women around me started showing up to classes in leggings and just a sports bra, or just a crop top. That’s right, the vests that used to go over the sports bra were … gone.
Mysterious, I thought. I mean, it’s not like it’s high summer or anything. There was, to my knowledge, no national lack of tank tops. Everything was the same, except that there was bare skin where the bottom half of a T-shirt usually goes. And this was not just about the urge to bend the flatter and more toned abdomen. What intrigued me was that these naked women wandering around their midst did not suck their bellies or secretly look sideways at their reflection every two minutes. A medium gap began to look almost normal.
Well, it certainly is now; the upper and lower halves of a suit no longer have to meet. In fact, it is considered much smarter if they do not. What started in the locker room quickly took over the red carpet, where a bare midsection became the modern slope, with Zendaya Sophia Loren nowadays. (Intervention is now a terrible 20th century.)
Gwyneth Paltrow was an early adopter here, initiating the visible patch of belly. (I’m pretty sure I could recognize her belly in lineup.) As early as 1998, her on-screen costumes for Donna Karan for Alfonso Cuarón’s film adaptation of Great Expectations included emerald green duvet which framed an isosceles triangle of naked belly. (So far, my proposed deep dive, long read in Paltrow’s Tao – subtitled “Why Gwyneth Paltrow Was Right About Literally Everything All Along” – remains inexplicably uncommissioned, but I’m sure to keep you posted.)
The modern ventral gap sits about six inches higher than the exposed bellies of the Britney era. Where 1990s low-rise jeans exposed skin south of the waist, as low as your knicker elastic, the 21st century take rises up from your waist.
The queen of this – and much more, of course, but most certainly of this – is Beyoncé. I would argue that Beyoncé is a pencil skirt and cropped shirt, accessorized with catwalk shades and a high heel sandal, is the ultimate Beyoncé. This was what she wore through most of 2013 – which was also, in fact fans, the year Bey came up with the trick. surprise-dropping an entire album out of nowhere. In other words, 2013 Beyoncé basically set the rules for how we live now. It’s her world, and so on.
Only mortals can ever hope to look more like Beyoncé, but she made the naked belly an option for bodies beyond the pre-pubescent sylphs that were previously the only creatures sure to go there. And what was warming up on the red carpet and speeding up on the treadmill has now become a part of everyday life. The rise of riding bottoms, which was a teen base before 2020 but exploded into a universal uniform during what I now like to call only obliquely the Great Unpleasant, because I’m bored talking about it just like you, was a key factor in cutting the bottom a few inches from our tops. It is impossible to put anything in sports bottoms with even the appearance of an elegant silhouette. A lace-up waist will always look best with bare skin, so the simplest summer pairing for sports bottoms is a shortened tank top or cropped hood.
And now proof that the naked belly was introduced for summer 2022 has landed at Boden. The home of beautiful, wearable, innocently grown-up holiday clothing has come up with what its designers call the “kiss crop”. This duvet almost comes together in the middle – like drapes or an airy kiss, darling – giving the slightest hint of bare skin without requiring you to freeze your kidneys. that of Boden Trimmed Cotton Top and Lorna Pulled Maxi Skirt an introduction in a correct new era for the average gap.
The belly gap has narrowed, and you come to a holiday closet near you. And with a kiss crop, you won’t even need to hold your breath.