After all the countless hours Jazzercising and dancing around like a maniac, the best reward was to show off your hard-earned abs by wearing a belly shirt. The belly shirt was, as the name suggests, a short (or cutoff) shirt that exposed the midriff area. No one was more influential in bringing this street style to the masses than pop goddess Madonna. Her “Lucky Star” debut featured her cropped mesh shirts layered over midriff-showing tank tops, inspiring legions of teenage girls to bare their belly buttons.
The cut-off shirt look quickly became a unisex fad: boys were just as willing to slash their muscle tees and let it all hang out. Bands from the rebellious heavy metal scene, like the flamboyant and scantily-clad rockers Mötley Crüe, wore skintight net shirts that bared their bodies. In a time when makeup and long hair didn’t mar masculinity, hard rocking guys took to cutting off their muscle tees in a show of solidarity with their rock heroes.
The great thing about belly shirts was that you didn’t have to have a rock hard tummy to wear one. A popular version consisted of ‘carwash’ style strips that were beaded and would hang over your belly to help to obscure your waist. The pre-made version was usually reserved for tourists (featuring slogans like “Life’s a Beach”), but with a pair of scissors and some beads, you could make your own (much cooler) one. Here’s how:
1.Take one regular t-shirt with appropriate slogan (i.e. “Where’s the Beef?” “Frankie Say Relax” or “Choose Life”)
2.With your scissors, cut from the bottom hem of the t-shirt up halfway to the neckline. Continue cutting the tee into strips about 1” wide.
3.When the entire t-shirt is cut into strips, slide some beads onto the ends and tie the bottom in a knot to keep the beads from slipping off.
4.If you didn’t cut the sleeves off for the muscle tee look, you can cut and bead them too.
5.Spin around like the disco queen (or king) you are, your beaded fringe flying.
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