The History of the Bare Midriff in Fashion

Depositphotos_53284011_mYoung women have been displaying their bare midriffs since Madonna made it trendy in the ‘80s. The fad quickly caught on, and by the ‘90s, everyone from Jennifer Lopez to Britney Spears were baring their bellies for all to see. While Madonna was one of the first to attribute a bare midriff to sexuality, she wasn’t the first to create the fashion trend.

French Fashion and the Bare Midriff

Madeleine Vionnet, a French fashion designer born in the late 1800s, is often regarded as one of the first creators of bare midriff fashion. In 1932, Vionnet designed a dress that featured strategically placed cutouts, one of which displayed the bare midriff. Over the next couple decades, the style evolved. During the ‘60s and ‘70s, hippies often showed their bellies in tube tops and halters as a sign of freedom and individuality.

When Bellies Were Scandalous

Up until recent decades, bearing such an intimate area of skin was seen as scandalous and perhaps even shameful. Exposed midriffs were limited to belly dancers, exotic dancers, and the like. Before the invention of the crop or halter top, women would simply tie their regular length shirts under the bust. However, this look was more for comfort during hot and humid conditions, and not for fashion’s sake.