This summer, I was fortunate enough to be able to spend more time than usual in the Big Apple.  I realize that, based on what I just related, some of you might believe that the heat got to me and altered any semblance of rational thinking.  But, hey, I’m a city kid, born and bred.  And although I’ve spent the last few decades where the grass grows, somehow the sound of jack hammers remains more familiar than lawn mowers.

Part of my urban daily routine, besides familiarizing my suburban dog with concrete, is walking and gawking.  A word about walking, before I get to the gawking part.  I have happily rediscovered putting one foot in front of the other as a means of transportation!  Walking is no longer limited to the treadmill or getting to and from my car in the mall parking lot, but as an actual means of reaching a destination without wheels.

As far as gawking is concerned, as a non-reader of fashion magazines or the New York Times Styles section, there is no place like a big city to discover the current trends in female apparel.  The sidewalks are a veritable runway, with scores of young women reflecting what’s hip.

There was plenty of skin to be seen this summer.  Miniskirts made a big come-back, as well as shirts with mostly empty button holes.  Fashion was ripped from the courts, as cute little pleated tennis skirts became streetwear.  And workout bras were not limited to the gym.

One trend that did surprise me, however, was shorts with loafers… and socks.  Had some millennial visited their grandpa in Boca and decided that this was a good look?

But most of all, I think I will remember the summer of 2021 as the season of the belly button.  The hottest look of all in these months of hotness were extreme crop tops accompanied by bottoms that rested just below the navel.  Whether the bottoms be short skirts or baggy cargo pants, exposed midriffs were all the rage.  It was flesh running rampant after a year of COVID-related seclusion.

Torsos were everywhere.  During my walks, I stopped noticing the faces of the young women coming towards me, but became an unwilling observer of stomachs.  Was all that exposed skin meant to be stared at? If so, I was certainly doing my share.

At some point, this whole phenomenon became a bit unnerving, and I found myself indulging in a bit of fantasy.

What if I was a witness to an accident, or a crime, and was questioned by a detective? “You say you saw the whole incident?” he would state.  “So what color was her hair?”  “Sorry, sir, I never noticed her hair.  But I can say with certainty that she was definitely an outie.”

But, back to reality.  Something else I noticed with pleasant surprise was that this nakedness was not limited to women with super flat tummies, although there were plenty of those.  Even fuller-figured women with a bit of “spillage” had the confidence to step outside and bare their middles.  Raise a glass to “body positivity!”

And speaking of body positivity, you might have noticed that in this essay, I tended to repeat the adjective “young” as I discussed these partially dressed women.   As an experienced Medicare recipient, was I just a wee bit envious of their courage? Did I wish myself young again, strutting along the sidewalk without any concern about exposing love handles?

I’m reminded of being on a beach in France, where topless bathing was the rule rather than the exception.  And age did not prevent the older woman from letting it all hang out, sometimes literally.  But the women were free, and no one paid it any mind.

So should there be an age limit on wearing crop tops? I’ll let you decide for yourself.  As for me, I relinquish crop tops, along with those jeans that look like they’ve been through a paper shredder, to those who have no idea who Julius La Rosa was.  I’m keeping my Buddha belly safely tucked away, and invite passersby to focus on one of my more flattering features.  Like, say, the super cute dog who is trotting by my side.

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