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The last decade has been rough for the fancy camisoles, tube tops, and halters of our youth. We’ve discarded the awkward fits and overworked silhouettes — so cringingly crafted to feel hip enough for an after-hours gathering — and wondered how we could have possibly worn anything so try-hard. "I'm not like a regular top," each dated style seems to plead from our old college photographs. "I'm a going out top."
Yet for the last couple of seasons, fashion has been building a slow and steady case for the return of shirts that show effort. "I think every designer understands that style is cyclical," says Allina Liu, one of the many designers to embrace the concept as of late. "Good ideas are always worth revisiting even if they get played out after a while. Coming in with a new perspective, you can make something that's been overdone seem new again."
For her, that meant reimagining the party tops of yore with more dramatic shapes, long ruffled flourishes, and sophisticated fabric choices, like peek-a-boo lace and silk cotton. Similar vibes reverberated through last February’s round of shows, from Rosie Assoulin’s dressy blouse-heavy collection — a tour de force of cut-outs, single shoulder cuts, and cape-like details — to the slinky apron necklines at Tome and Tommy Hilfiger.
"I think after the whole ‘normcore era,’ women are heading in the opposite direction," I Waited For You designer and co-founder Melanese Reid tells me. "They want something special enough to take from working in an office to networking cocktails." Arielle Antoine, a stylist and costume designer from Only.Agency, agrees. "Because going out tops transition so easily from day to night, it’s easy to see why the trend is making a comeback. The look adds a little something extra without being too much."
As for updating the rest of the outfit, your existing wardrobe is already filled with fantastic possibilities. "These styles pair perfectly with high- or mid-rise jeans — skinny or wide leg — as well as a slim pencil skirt to keep the lines straight. For daytime, I suggest doing a boyfriend short for contrast." Or you could follow the lead of Reid and her label's spring lookbook by matching a sculptural upper half with equally structured culottes.
However you decide to jump back on the bandwagon, though, this much is clear: You probably made plenty of regrettable choices the first time this trend hit, and in 15 years you might be thinking the same thing about the current batch of options. That's fashion! But for now it’s almost the freakin’ weekend baby, and you need a great top for going out — find it in the gallery above.