Flashdance Top

When I saw this definition in my fashion dictionary, I knew I had to make it into a post, it’s too amazing! And then I did an internet search – turns out the Flashdance Top is actually a real thing in fashion! Who would have thought.

AKA: grey sweatshirt with the neckline and sleeve cut off

How to say it: flash-dahns top

Traditional Features: 

body template



  • made from grey cotton knit fabric, like a sweatshirt
  • oversized
  • sleeves cut short and rolled up
  • neckline cut to extend out to the shoulder seams
  • neckline left unfinished and curls outward, exposing the wrong side of the fabric
  • neckline sits off the shoulder


…of the style: This style became popular thanks to the iconic costume worn by Jennifer Beals (designed by Michael Kaplan) in the 1983 hit film ‘Flashdance‘. While the look was undoubtably worn prior to the film, the 80s were a decade when fashion was particularly influenced by film, music and celebrity, the grey sweatshirt worn by Beals in the movie (and the poster) was an instant must-have. The top fit perfectly into the dancewear-as-streetwear trend that is synonymous with the decade, and had women cutting up their oversized sweaters and baring their shoulders to the world.

In the 21st century, the Flashdance Top is back, to the extent that brands actually name their versions of the look after the movie, and the internet is full of ‘how to’ articles and videos for those who prefer to DIY the Flashdance look.

While the modern incarnation of the Flashdance top is often more fitted than the original and doesn’t always have the sleeves chopped off, the off-the-shoulder neckline that will forever be linked to the film is always there.

Slip one on, pop out your shoulder and you can’t help but start humming ‘What a feeling’ (leg warmers and red pointed pumps optional).

…of the name: The style is named for the movie that made the look so popular.

I found out about the Flashdance Top in the Fairchild’s Dictionary of Fashion, but type it into your favourite search engine and see what else comes up.

Random Facts

  • the iconic cut-out neckline of the style in Flashdance came about by accident – the top shrunk in the wash and the neckline had to be cut out so that Jennifer Beals could get it over her head

21st Century Flashdance Tops

While not always named after the movie which inspired the look (although a lot of them are), there is no doubt where this look came from.

Alternative Apparel Urban Outfitters

Alternative Apparel, Urban Outfitters

LnA Charlotte Russe

InA, Charlotte Russe


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