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90s Crop Tops The Style That Won’t Stop (Thankfully!)

March 1, 2024

Crop tops have been around for decades, but the 90s really knew how to style them. Read on for tips on how to bring 90s crop tops back into your wardrobe!

What Is A Crop Top?

When I say crop top, what do you think of? Maybe it’s a cropped jumper with long sleeves. Maybe it’s a small tank top exposing the midriff, or maybe it’s a cute t-shirt that ends just above the waistline. Perhaps it brings to mind the 90s Spice Girls and their signature cropped outfits, or Shakira’s iconic style. Whatever your mental image of a crop top may be, there’s one thing for certain: when it comes to crop tops, no decade has more variety and experience than the 1990s . So let’s take a closer look at the outfits that an iconic 90s crop top can offer you!

How Did 90s Crop Tops Happen?

Suzanne Somers entertains the crew aboard the aircraft carrier USS RANGER (CV-61).

Suzanne Somers entertains the crew aboard the aircraft carrier USS RANGER (CV-61).

Crop tops have a long and varied history. They took time to become a true staple in the West, but crop tops were an important clothing item in the East long before this. Due to the warmer weather, cropped clothing has always been more common in places like Egypt, the Middle East and Asia.


In 1893 (so quite some time ago!), a group of belly dancers performed at the World’s Fair in Chicago, America. This was the first real introduction of the crop top to the West, and it would mark the beginnings of the crop top’s journey into Western fashion.


By the time the 1940s rolled around, cropped clothing had become much more common due to fabric rations (the rations were because of World War II). The crop tops at this point had short sleeves and high collars, and would be paired with high-waisted midi skirts.


Fast forward to the 1980s and cropped clothing was in full swing. You can think of a cropped jumper, a leotard and some lycra leggings to conjure up a perfect mental image of peak 1980s fashion! From there, cropped clothing only became more and more popular.


Once the 1990s called, crop tops were truly having their moment. Stars like Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera spearheaded the iconic pop-star look of a cropped t-shirt/jumper and low-rise jeans… A tough one to pull off, but they certainly managed it!


And now? After a brief lapse in popularity during the 2000s (everybody makes mistakes), 90s crop tops are back and ready for their return to the fashion scene.
So, now that we know our history, let’s figure out how to work a crop top into your wardrobe!

How Can You Style 90s Crop Tops?

90s Multicolored Printed Cropped V Neck Top

90s Multicolored Printed Cropped V Neck Top

90s crop top fashion is all about keeping it casual, but making a statement. You can go for a grungier look (much like Drew Barrymore, who had this look down to a fine art during the 90s) or a sweeter Baby Spice vibe. No matter what your preference is, a crop top is a top 90s gem that is versatile, fun and perfect for heading into these summer months. Whatever your gender identity, crop tops can suit everyone (check out Johnny Depp’s younger crop top photos for some major inspiration)!

Minimal Skin 90s Crop Top Styling

Many 90s crop tops and their stylings show off a significant amount of skin, but this may not be your personal preference. That’s no problem! You can be more conservative if that works best for you (or if some colder weather demands it!).


Pairing a detailed or printed crop top with some color-blocked high-waisted trousers or skirts can make a huge statement. You get the fun of a crop top without the exposure of your midriff!

Crop tops come in all shapes and sizes: why not pair a voluminous cropped shirt with a high-waisted slim-fitting skirt/slacks to deliver some stream-lined, chic style?


One sure-fire way to cement your crop top game is to match a lace top with a billowing A-line skirt or some flowing mid-length trousers. Gorgeous.

Color and Style Blocking

90s Multicolored FloralPrint Cropped Top

90s Multicolored FloralPrint Cropped Top

Color and style blocking is something that should never, ever be underestimated – especially when the 90s did it so well. There’s no easier way to make a simple statement than to match a bold cropped t-shirt or tank with some matching tracksuit bottoms or slacks. It’s the perfect look that’s both casual and stylish alike! Whether you want to head out to do some grocery shopping or to have a few drinks with your friends, this outfit works.


If you’d like to go for a bit more of a striking look, why not invest in a crop top and skirt/slacks with a funky matching print? Though this might seem like an intimidating look to pull off, it’s definitely worth it (just Google 90s crop tops on the red carpet for some proof!). Pair the set with some simple accessories and color-blocked heels or shoes and enjoy.

Light Grunge 90s Crop Top Couture

I think we can all agree that the styles of grunge and rock vary from person to person. From full 90s rock-band grunge to sporty grunge like Sporty Spice, there’s a grunge (or at the least, a grunge-ish) look and style for everyone.


So how can you incorporate your 90s crop top into such an aesthetic?

Easily! To add a flavor of 90s grunge to your outfit, consider coupling a white crop top with some bootleg jeans, black combat boots and a leather jacket. Add any basic necklace and bracelet combination to bring the whole look together (if you’re feeling particularly brave and nostalgic for the 90s, we dare you to fish out that old puka shell necklace…), and you’re ready to go.

Glamorously Cropped 90s Crop Top

If nothing else on this list has caught your interest, fear not! Our last (but by no means least) style option today is none other than the all-out-glam look.


There are so many options! You could pair a boxy billowing crop top with boldly colored slim-fit trousers for an elegant business casual outfit. If you’d like an ultimate ‘royalty at a ball’ feel, try matching a slim-fit lace crop top with a floor-length flowing skirt/slacks. Or, if you’d prefer to keep your arms covered, there are beautiful crop top options with full-length chiffon sleeves. Pair one with a long gauzy skirt and you’ll feel like the star of the show!


Maybe you’d like to go slim-fit the whole way. Maybe you’d prefer a loose and billowing outfit. Maybe you’d like a combination of both. No matter what, glamorous outfits can not only contain 90s-inspired crop tops, but can champion them.

…So What Are You Waiting For?

So what happens now?


I understand that crop tops can feel like a daunting fashion move. They’re not everyone’s cup of tea (or… swatch of fabric, I guess?). But if you’ve been curious about giving the cropped top, tank, jumper or otherwise a try, now’s your chance! Check in with the 90s for inspiration, and don’t be afraid to put your own personal twist on it. Between high waisted trousers/skirts, low-waisted jeans, floor-length skirts/slacks and quirky midi-skirts, there’s a companion for your crop top no matter the weather, season or your own personal style.


Have fun experimenting