Hint: It involves a lot of non-tops.
I’m a simple gal. When I see new photos of pregnant Rihanna, I stop what I’m doing and pay my respects. Currently expecting her second child, the singer and beauty mogul is certainly not new to pushing the boundaries of maternity dressing. But this time around, her outfit recipes overwhelmingly have one common secret ingredient: the teeny tiny top.
At the Louis Vuitton Menswear Spring 2024 show on June 20, she pulled up in an elaborate denim bra-and-pant ensemble emblazoned with pixelated camouflage. Donning ’90s makeup, layered necklaces and her baby bump on full display, the now-viral look epitomizes expectant Rihanna’s style prowess. ICYMI: During her first pregnancy in 2022, she made headlines for pushing the boundaries of maternity acceptability with mini dresses, slinky separates and sheer chemises. A year and one baby later, Rihanna’s current style is still about challenging conventions of pregnancy dressing. And nowhere is this more evident than through her newfound unofficial uniform, in which fun-size tops reign supreme.
It all started with her second pregnancy announcement. When performing at the 2023 Super Bowl Halftime Show, Rihanna used her costume to strategically share the news that baby number two was on the way. Sporting a blood-red breastplate by Loewe, the armour-like garment functioned as a strapless bra. Layered atop a bright skintight catsuit that accentuated her bump, the sculptural brassiere unsurprisingly sent the internet ablaze. By strategically revealing and concealing her belly, this non-verbal pregnancy declaration foreshadowed that Rihanna’s style in the coming nine months would be, once again, something to watch.
Indeed, RiRi’s second pregnancy style has been a parade of crop tops, bralettes and belly-baring baby tees. Whether she’s running errands with partner A$AP Rocky or making fashionably late entrances to high-brow industry events, she stays pretty faithful to her go-to formula. And each time, it blends seamlessly into her environment. On a dinner date in Paris back in April, she paired a humongous hooded patchwork coat and baggy cargo pants with a grey cut-off tank. A month earlier, during an even more casual outing, she fashioned her own crop top by under-tucking a preppy polo and pairing it with relaxed low-slung jeans.
This is also a technique that can be easily dressed up. During an evening out in New York City in May, Rihanna put a playful spin on the skin-baring style with a fuzzy halter and wrap skirt. That same week, she donned a leather trench done up only at the top to reveal a black bralette and micro-mini skirt, for a decidedly sexier vibe.
This is not to say the tiny top is all Rihanna wears. Her excessively embellished gown at the 2023 Met Gala was a riff on the traditional bridal silhouette, and April street style pictures showed her with a lengthy tube top. But it’s worth applauding the genius that lies in her oft-employed outfit recipe, ready to be reused at any time. It lets the baby bump breathe. It makes for an easier shopping experience. It allows for ample belly accessorizing. There’s an undeniable power in having a tried-and-true outfit formula, whether you’re pregnant or not. And if RiRi has shown us anything, it’s that sticking in the realm of certain sartorial parameters creates opportunities for outside-the-box experimentation.
Case in point: At the 2023 Oscars, she wore three looks that each gave a variation on her crop-top sensibilities. On the red carpet, her outfit comprised an Alaïa bra layered atop a sheer bodysuit. To perform, she donned a mesh babydoll lingerie dress with a bedazzled bra peeking through. Backstage, she was pictured in a mint green Bottega Veneta sash-like belly shirt. All styles were completely different from one another while emphasizing her maternal body in similar ways. Therein lies the beauty of opting for a non-traditional shirt.
With each red carpet, billboard shrine and street-style outing, Rihanna’s crop top-heavy ensembles always show her belly, while pushing back on the idea that such styles only belong on flat stomachs. Steve Jobs had his turtle necks. Karl Lagerfeld had his white ponytail and exaggerated collar. Pregnant Rihanna has her crop tops. Once again, I’m taking notes.