Bare Midriffs

Every once and a while we come across a trend that inspires us to step out of our comfort zone and take a walk on the wild side, and today's daring outfit idea is a perfect example of that. Yes, the thought of bare bellies can be frightening, but a midriff-revealing ensemble can translate into a sophisticated and chic evening look! You don't have to expose your entire stomach to pull off this sultry clothing trend--as ladies like Alexa Chung and Margherita Missoni demonstrate--it's all about showing just a hint of skin. (A peek-a-boo moment, if you will.) It's enough to turn heads and make a statement, without being overly revealing, which is why we're bringing it to your attention in today's Trend Report.

There were bare midriffs aplenty on the S/S 11 runways, ranging from fully exposed stomachs at Rag & Bone and Ohne Titel to mere slits of skin at YSL and Chloe. Donatella Versace designed a strong, yet subtle take on this trend as well, as evidenced by the belly-baring ensemble featured above. Because the Chilli Red Pencil Skirt ($1129, 88.721.7219) hits just below the knee and the Chilli Red Cropped Jacket with Patent Leather Details ($2895, 888.721.7219) has a three-quarter sleeve, the few inches of visable skin give the look the perfect amount of sex appeal without appearing too risqué. Additionally, the bold red colour brings a wonderful energy to outfit, making it an excellent option for a summer soiree.

We understand that some of you might be a little hesitant about trying this revealing trend, but this look shouldn't be feared. As Kate Bosworth, Alexa Chung, and Annabelle Dexter-Jones demonstrate, there is a conservative way to approach the bare midriff. Bosworth only showed off a sliver of her stomach in Chloe's Crepe and Leather Dress ($2750, 310.550.5900) when she attended the Another Happy Day premiere at the Sundance Film Festival two months ago. We love that her midriff is just barely peeking out through the frock's slit; it's very subtle, making it a completely wearable option for more conservative dressers. Slightly more revealing, but equally chic, was the Yves Saint Laurent Blue Blouse with Black Fingerprint Motif ($1190, 310.271.4110) and Skirt with Ruffles and Black Fingerprint Motif ($2100, 310.271.4110) Alexa Chung wore to the ELLE Style Awards in London last month. Though the top and skirt have a modest, ladylike look, the exposed midriff gives the outfit some edgy, fashion-forward flair. Late last year, Annabelle Dexter-Jones opted for a similarly inconspicuous take on this trend when she attended a screening of Howl in New York. The downtown darling went for a more casual look, wearing a cropped knit shirt by Timo, A.P.C. skirt, and brown Swedish Hasbeens clogs. The textured top and bare midriff make this a fun and youthful outfit choice.

While our modest readers can experiment with exposing just a hint of skin, our sartorial risk-takers will certainly appreciate the more daring styling choices of Rihanna, Jessica Szohr, and Margherita Missoni. Rihanna wasn't afraid to bare some skin at the launch of her fragrance Reb'l Fleur in Los Angeles late last month. The singer wore head-to-toe Prada for the celebratory event, including the Blue Cropped Cardigan with Painted Gold Overlay ($995, select Prada boutiques), Pale Blue Brocade Skirt ($995, select Prada boutiques), and platform heels. A few days earlier, at the Help Haiti event benefiting the Ben Stiller Foundation and The J/P Haitian Relief Organisation, Jessica Szohr showed off her toned body in a Jen Kao shirt and a vintage skirt from What Goes Around Comes Around. We love the way she livened up her neutral picks with a pair of leopard Christian Louboutin ankle booties and accessorized with a Lia Sophia gold cluster ring. And finally, our story wouldn't be complete without an ode to the queen of bare midriffs--Margherita Missoni. We are particularly fond of today's featured look: an olive green Missoni knit top over a turquoise La Perla bra, styled with a checked pair of vintage Vichy high-waisted pants. The outfit illustrates Missoni's ability to put together noteworthy, belly-baring ensembles and is definitely worth emulating!

Now that you're familiar with the many ways in which you can address this outfit idea, it's finally time for the fun part: shopping! Admittedly, putting together a bare-midriff ensemble seems simple enough--just pair a crop top with a skirt or pants--but if it's a sophisticated and chic look you're after, there are a few specifics you should note. To avoid looking too casual, you'll want to choose a top that is fitted, and a high-waisted bottom is key. Modest dressers will want a top that hits a few inches below the bust line or lower, like Bebe's Lasercut Leather Crop Top ($149), Topshop's Knitted Black Bodycon Crop Vest ($65), or Alexander Wang's Cropped Mock Neck Tank ($350). As for the bottom half, go for a skirt with a longer hemline. We particularly like Ecote's Crinkle Chiffon Skirt ($54)--especially if you're fond of Alexa Chung's ladylike look--and ASOS' Belted Corset Waist Pencil Skirt ($54), which will help you achieve a Bosworth-inspired ensemble.

If you want to show off a little more skin, they we suggest trying Shakuhachi's Day Tripper Crop Bustier ($163) or ASOS' Raw Edge Super Cropped Shirt ($45). To channel Rihanna and Annabelle Dexter-Jones' leg-baring ensembles, be sure to snag Reiss' Libby Skirt ($215) or Forever 21's Sweet Floral Skirt ($13); both are excellent options for an after-hours fete. However, if you're looking to make a statement a la Missoni, then pick up an abbreviated knit shirt, like Topshop's Coral Crochet Zip Back Crop Sleeveless Top ($55), and style it with Jaggy's Checkered Pants ($119). The resulting look will be quirky yet very stylish--never a bad thing!--Jessica Baker

Photos of Kate Bosworth and Alexa Chung, courtesy of Getty; Photo of Annabelle Dexter-Jones, courtesy of Splash; Photo of Rihanna, courtesy of Bauer Griffin