Back in my late 20s, when I was working as a magazine editor in Boston, there was a cheap little fast fashion store right around the corner from my apartment that we used to call the cheap top shop. On Fridays, after work, we would stop by that store and pick up a cheap top for that evening’s adventures. Those were the good old days, before buying tops became so challenging and so… controversial.
When I first started creating content, I thought all of the questions would be about jeans and bathing suits and which necklace to wear with which top, and although I do get those questions, I also get a surprising number about tops. Whether you are tall or short, full busted or not, tops seem to challenge most of us at one point or another, and one of the questions that I get asked the most is:
“How do I know if this top is in style?”
This video is your answer. The main distinction between frumpy and fashionable, as I see it, is how contemporary the item is. Clothes that are current and modern will not look frumpy, unless they fit badly or don’t suit you for some other reason. Clothes that look dated and old-fashioned will always look frumpy, even if they fit well and the colors suit you.
That is the difference.
These 7 tops will ALWAYS make you look older because they are out of style. Will they come back in style? Yes, and no. Versions of these will probably be popular again, but they will come back different. The takeaway then, is that trendy tops should be purged from your wardrobe once the trend has passed. If you don’t like the cycle of donating former favorites that are no longer trendy, skip trendy tops in favor of more classic styles.
And here, the 7 tops that will make you look older.
A tunic length hasn’t been in style for a while, but a basic that happens to be longer (like a tunic length button-down or sweater) is a safe bet if you want the length without a frumpy effect. But the flowy, frilly, and highly decorative tops that retailers sell to women of a certain age that hover around the hips are definitely out of style, hopefully for good.
The Busy Top
This top has so much going on, it serves as a distraction from any lumps, bumps, sags or bags. At least that’s my only explanation for why these styles keep turning up in stores. From cut-out shoulders to lacing and ruching, ombre prints to studs to embellishments, these tops will always appear matronly.
The Dated Top
As I mentioned earlier, trends go out of style, and trendy tops are no different. If you’re still holding on to former trends, from Ikat prints to cold shoulders to those scrunchy popcorn tops, it’s time to let them go.
The Shapeless Top
Boxy stiff tops with no attempt at flattery aren’t going to flatter and minimize any Covid weight. They’re going to highlight it. Shapeless shirts, just like shapeless anything, make you appear heavier and older. The most flattering clothes are the ones that skim the body, without being too loose or too tight.
The Tight Top
On the opposite side of the spectrum is the too-tight top that seems suctioned to your body. Not only is it unforgiving, it’s also out of style, so let yourself breathe and pick a body-skimming style instead.
The Matched Set
Although sets and co-ords, as they’re often called, are definitely having a moment, they don’t look like this. Nothing looks more dated than a printed top with a matching jacket in a solid color that is pulled from the print. This is not true of neutrals. Only of color. If you had combined the printed top with a neutral jacket, the look would be fresh and modern, but when the pink is pulled out of the pattern for the color of the cardigan, the effect is instantly aging.
The Bad Print
I’ve done posts and videos and lives all about prints, because I personally love them, but I understand that they are super tricky. Good prints fall into one of two categories: Classic, truly timeless prints without a lot of extras (stripes, dots, leopard, some florals and plaids) to modern, artistic, creative, and often trendy prints. If your top doesn’t fall into one of these categories, chances are it’s a bad print. Maybe it was trendy once, or maybe it was bad from the start. Either way, it’s time to let it go.
Which of these tops do you have lingering in your closet? And which did you shun from the start? Let me know in the comments!