A Trapeze Top is a top which is fitted at the bust and gradually flares out into an A-line shape towards the hemline. The flare that gradually extends creates a wave in the fabric which is similar to unstructured pleats and may continue to flare or become fitted with a band at the hem. The trapeze top can be a tank top, sleeveless top, cropped sleeve top, capped sleeve top or any other sleeve type top. What characterizes a top as a trapeze top is the body fitting. Any top which is fitted at bust and flares down at the hem is a trapeze top. Longer sleeves on a trapeze top often feature the same structure as the top itself, with flared fabric that billows before fitting at the elbow or continues to flare into a bell sleeve.
This style of top originates way back in 1930. It was featured in some dress designs and was considered as a mainstream style at that time. Trapeze tops or dresses are similar to empire waist and baby doll dresses in that they make a popular option for maternity wear, due to the volume of room that the angular side seams create in the waist area. Trapeze tops vary in their details, which may include embellishments such as layers at the waist that create a “tiered” effect, sequins, ruffles, bows, or embroidery. They also vary in their fabric, which ranges from jersey knit cotton to silk or chiffon. Trapeze tops that feature halter necks look best on slim frames with broad shoulders, while larger frames with a full bust line look best in a trapeze top with a scoop neck or V neck. Petite frames should avoid baggy trapeze tops and opt for those that have such features as spaghetti straps, an empire waist and tiered fabric.