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I've identified a wardrobe hole. 

I need a couple of sleeveless tops, maybe lace, maybe patterned, something that is okay on its own but is also going to look great layered under a blazer or other jacket in transitional weather. Similar to what Viva wore in her recent presentation, but that's just one example of a style that might work. 

Three times in the past few weeks I reached in vain for such a thing. Why have I never noticed how much I needed it? Probably because we have so little transitional weather and maybe because I wasn't wearing my blazers quite as often for a few years?  Also, I had to retire a cream silk shell that used to serve this purpose due to staining. 

I have a couple of Everlane silk summer shells that theoretically could serve this purpose but the colours aren't quite right, I guess. 

I have this structured peplum knit from J. Crew and it is useful at times but the peplum falls in the wrong way for some jackets, plus the cream is not my best colour. 

Anyone have any suggestions? Best if I can order online in Canada since I'm unlikely to be able to shop in store any time soon. Unfortunately, that rules out WHBM because I don't think they deliver here. Otherwise the top below might work -- not that I know how this brand fits....

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  • Christina F. replied 2 years ago

    I am on my phone so no find but J Crew has something similar to what you posted. I hope this is the Canadian link: https://www.jcrew.com/aw/p/wom.....-top/H7040

  • Colette replied 2 years ago

    I'm looking for a similar top. I tried the black lace find on at WHBM but it was one size larger than my usual size and seemed to run big. I would need to size down. I did like it enough to look and see if it was available online but haven't ordered it yet. It's very structured, seems to be well made with an exposed silver zipper down the back. I think my hesitation is the silver zipper would limit my jewelry.

  • La Pedestrienne replied 2 years ago

    Ah, I think this is good example of a completer! Not an essential, not a basic, not a statement, but necessary if you're going to wear your blazers, especially if you're going to wear them in transitional weather. Can you post finds for the blazers/toppers you have in mind? I find shopping for this sort of item has to be informed by the existing outfits you're trying to complete. I know you have the navy Reiss and the pink Rhodes...

  • Suz replied 2 years ago

    Ah -- thanks, LaPed! That is great advice. 

    Last night I wore a graphic tee under my jacket for want of a better option. We went to a concert so it was actually fine, but...

    Christina, thank you! Yes -- that's the general idea, though maybe with a bit different neckline (though this could work for me).... I also like a print one they have....

    Colette, thank you for that review. I have never tried anything on there so don't know sizing. Silver zip would actually be perfect for me! 

    Jackets I might be wearing...I'm comfortable with some pattern mixing.

  • Kathie replied 2 years ago

    I got this Anthro one, and it is every bit as wonderful as Lisa P and Angie described. Wore it yesterday with a long navy blazer. Unfortunately sizes available on-line look limited at this point.

  • Suz replied 2 years ago

    Kathie, thanks. I adore it but it's not available at all in Canada according to the site. I should have ordered when I first saw it. Again, I don't know Anthro sizing and was a bit intimidated by returns costs....

  • Murph11 replied 2 years ago

    Your blazers are all amazing, Suz! I had the same wardrobe hole and found this shell at BR over the weekend. Instantly, I don’t know how I lived without it. Not to thick or thin, good length, semi-fitted, and just enough texture to be interesting to wear on its own. Wishing you similar good fortune!

  • Aurore replied 2 years ago

    I have the same wardrobe hole, and find such items very elusive. As of now the few I have found are plain and probably not available in Canada. I'll be following this thread with attention!

    ETA : love Murph11's suggestion!

  • La Pedestrienne replied 2 years ago

    I"m seeing surprisingly few sleeveless options right now, and what is available is in a limited range of colours -- maybe more options in another month or two? I'm thinking BR might be a good place to look. I searched the CA site for "sleeveless" and then "tank" and these caught my eye. Not lace, and perhaps the prints are too busy, but I kind of love them, especially the macro-gingham. :)

  • Glory replied 2 years ago

    Suz I want to recommend a quick trip to Winners. I was there last week and they had several lovely sleeveless in solid and pattern.

  • La Pedestrienne replied 2 years ago

    A few more, including some Boden options. I know ordering/returning is a pain, but...

    The Halogen lace-trim top gets good reviews, and looks quite opaque in the ivory. 

  • Toban replied 2 years ago

    I just picked this one up from Cleo’s. It looks good with and without a topper. They have quite the variety of sleeveless tops right now.


  • Suz replied 2 years ago

    These are some great options -- thank you! 

    I expect there will be more available in a month or two, as you say. I had no idea how valuable that AT silk shell was until I suddenly didn't have it. Maybe it was an essential after all. But what made it an essential? Not that it was cream (not my best colour, in fact). More that it was silk, sleeveless, had a more open neck than many of my tops so read as "feminine" and a bit "dressy" especially if I blinged it up, but could also fade into the background. Hmmm. 

  • Aquamarine replied 2 years ago

    You could try checking the suiting section of a department store. I still have two sleeveless shells from that department when I had a couple of suits. They are interesting on their own (one a print, one with a gathered neckline). I still pull them out occasionally, for wear under a cardigan if I know I might be hot, or under a jacket. So glad I didn’t get rid of them when I passed on the suits.

  • Christina F. replied 2 years ago

    La Pedestrienne, that botanical shell is gorgeous.

  • Angie replied 2 years ago

    Lace shells look SO good under blazers, Suz. This one is fab and your colour. Maybe you can get someone in the US to help you out? (Lisa p got it in Canada though....)

  • Suz replied 2 years ago

    I'll see if someone can help, Angie -- thanks. I love that one. 

  • lisa p replied 2 years ago

    I have this very same wardrobe hole right now, and it was so evident yesterday while trying to dress for a meeting. I do love that navy one, but I'm not surprised it's no longer available . It was mid-Jan when I bought it.  Aritizia always has sleeveless silk and poly tanks - you could check there.  It's always the same top though, repeated over and over again ....
    I am on the hunt for cream or white right now too.

  • Suz replied 2 years ago

    White or ivory would be great, as would navy...

    Aritzia, alas, is an awful fit for me. Every spring I make the same mistake of ordering from them and every spring I lose money because their return policies are so sticky. I actually have a massive credit there right now that I could use if I saw something I liked, but usually the necklines and armholes are cut way too wide for me in the pretty tops...and if not, then they are too tight/ close, yet if I size up, it doesn't work either. 

  • Thistle replied 2 years ago

    Quite a few on Nordstrom's site:


    I'd check Ann Taylor, too.

  • Marilyn replied 2 years ago

    I really like the JC Jackie Shell if you like knits.  I have them in both Lightweight Merino and in cotton.  (merino not currently available).  I've got indigo, blue/white gingham, light gray, and cabernet in merino and white, indigo and black in cotton.  Some I wear year round layered under jackets and such.  I really like them with skirts and cropped pants during the summer because they semi-tuck well or you can fold them under.  Perfect with high waists.   I wear a small when I want them fitted and sized up to a medium in a couple merino ones for a looser fit.  Both work.

  • cinnamon fern replied 2 years ago

    Would something like this work?  It comes in a bunch of different colors and prints, although Nordies is sold out of most of them.

    I have the medallion print and wear it to work all the time - I always need tops that look good under jackets but are also presentable on their own if people come by my overheated office.

    I have it in SP and most often wear mediums - you probably need xs or xxs.

  • gryffin replied 2 years ago

    Suz - I am actually working on the identical wardrobe hole.  I just bought the RT luna lace top.  I bought both the black and white.  I returned the white.  Somehow it felt twee to me but I am keeping the black.  It runs a size small and is beautifully made.  There is no under layer so you must wear a cami.  you can wear a cami in same color or contrast.  I have great difficulty finding "elevated" essential tops to wear under blazers.  I think this is great because it works as a solo piece but layers beautifully.

    ETA - shout out to Marilyn!!  I love JCrew Jackie shell.  I have 4 in black.  I could not survive without them.  Great pieces!!

  • kkards replied 2 years ago

    this is one of those categorizes that i think Vince Camuto does really well....

  • Roxanna replied 2 years ago

    Suz - this was my exact wardrobe hike last spring (you know how many blazers I wear!) And i filled it with tops from Ted Baker. I loved them because they were 100% silk (not poly!) And had subtle but distinctive details. They are pricey - but go on sale.

  • Suz replied 2 years ago

    So many lovely options here -- thank you! 

    Roxanna, thank you! Good suggestion. So far, Baker fits have not worked for me but if I get to do in person try ons I might find out differently now. 

    kkards -- that is true -- I should check the Bay and see if they have any in stock. 

    Gryffin, that is a gorgeous top. I agree it is a hard hole to fill! I'd probably prefer the top in black also (or ideally, in navy!) -- there is something very elegant about dark lace, I feel. 

    CF, thank you. I was looking for something a little dressier or elevated than that top, though if in silk it might work. 

    Marilyn, absolutely!! I love the Jackie shell and have one in navy cotton. It's excellent. I would like some in merino also. I was looking for something with a bit of interest or pattern or "festive" feeling to it...

    Thistle, I immediately thought of AT, too, but weirdly there was very little of interest there! 

    I have added a few Finds also...not exactly what I thought I was looking for, in some cases, but might work for the purpose...

    I'm nervous about that BR top which I like in both the botannical and the leopard -- because I can't be sure the neckline will work. They don't show it on a model (that I could find). It's a V neck -- and if it is drapey, it might be too wide or loosey-goosey for my frame. 

  • Style Fan replied 2 years ago

    Suz, do you know what size you are looking for in the Anthro lace top?  I am in Florida and could order it for you.  I am coming back the beginning of April.

    It looks sold out on the US site but if it is not I am happy to help out.  :)

  • lisa p replied 2 years ago

    That Zara one is interesting.....

    My issue with these "completer" tops (good name for them , too) is that so many of them are missy/mumsy looking (using Jenni's word - ha) and  don't elevate (to use gryffin's word) the look any. Know what I mean?  I SO need more of these as I let my collection die out without replacing anything,  and now am  stuck for tops to wear  under jackets or knit jacket/wrap things.  CM used to be good for this, but they have drifted so far away from the basics .  And BR is so unreliable in terms of quality.  And yes, I agree with Aritzia's fit on those tops  - also unreliable -  I find the armholes cut up too high and narrow. I need to produce my own clothing .

  • Roxanna replied 2 years ago

    Lisa p - had the EXACT same issue. I HATE buying basics that don't have at least some interesting detail or quality to them. CM stopped making them and BR was all poly.

    Ted Baker was am unexpected win for me last year - not at all the floral mummy look I usually associated with them. Silk with beautiful embroidery, tasteful ties or lace insets (see my comment above.) I'll have to look again this year.

    Foynd a beautiful dark floral silk one from theory at the Bay but it's $250 - on sale! Ridiculous.

  • replied 2 years ago

    @lisap @Roxanna: I just looked at CM and literally every single top is Unwearable under a jacket. Either it has bell sleeves, some oddball draping, off the shoulder sleeves. Yikes!

    @suz: I haven’t seen much. I like the dotted BR top but am not sure about neckline either. Colour and print are really good though.

    I am waiting for something with lace, and then I’m pouncing. I Love lisap’s and viva’s tops!

  • unfrumped replied 2 years ago

    Good post!
    Isn’t “ viva”s lace shell “ the best?
    I really can’t use sleeveless- I want the short-sleeved version which is kind of an oxymoron, since that doesn’t layer as well. But.
    What is similar is that last year I recognized a big wardrobe hole of “ tops I can wear untucked that look like they’re SUPPOSED to go with blazer and pants”. Right fit, right length, right colors, collars that work.
    Without that, I was having a mishmash trying to put together complete outfits. Ideally they are versatile ( the tops) but most important is to develop combos I actually love.

  • Suz replied 2 years ago

    UF, that's it -- the neckline and cut of the top have to be "just right." Not easy! It's probably a bit easier for those who can wear a V neck. I can wear one, but only if it is very narrowly cut. 

    Smittie, Lisa, YES!! What the heck is going on at CM?? For heaven's sake! That used to be a place where you could be guaranteed of finding at least one of this type of top. 

  • Suz replied 2 years ago

    Style Fan, you are so sweet. It seems sold out everywhere then...too bad I did not know I had this hole when it was still available. But if I find something else I will let you know!

  • Suz replied 2 years ago

    ETA, I ordered a few from J. Crew that may or may not work. Not exactly what I wanted, but one will work as a casual and crossover summer top if it fits (it is cotton), one is something I've wanted for a while ( a sparkly cami to wear under jackets when I have no intentions of taking the jacket off or when I'm layering over with something else and want sparkle to show) and one is jacquard ink and black and quite structured, so could potentially work well (again, if the fit is right) -- would work with my ink jacket or my navy ones. 

    I'm going to be in Toronto in early March. I might be able to grab some shopping time then when DH is doing some errand of his own. 

  • unfrumped replied 2 years ago

    I actually do have a coupe of sleeveless tops carefully picked for under cardigans when I’ve no plan to remove. Last year I couldn’t resist this Anthro top which has a high enough neck and armholes and curved hem.

  • Elizabeth P replied 2 years ago

    I got a lovely silk sleeveless Equipment one last April at Nordies. Major sale. I’ve never really looked at their stuff before as it’s pricey, so I don’t know if they usually carry such a thing, but might be worth checking out and stalking

  • Joy replied 2 years ago

    Kkards mentioned my favorite...Vince Camuto shells. They wear like iron and look great on their own or under a jacket. Also look at offerings by Classiques Entiere. I added a bunch of finds from my wardrobe. You will see a similar shape, high V or scoop neckline that touches or is close to the dudes of the neck, a bit of draping or gathers at the neckline add interest.

  • shevia replied 2 years ago

    No suggestions, but enjoying the eye candy. Good luck on your hunt Suz!

  • La Pedestrienne replied 2 years ago

    I love the florals on your J Crew picks, especially the Collection one.

    I'm thinking that, with probable Summer colouring, you might want to find a grey-white (oyster) rather than a yellow-white (cream/ivory). It's a super hard colour to find -- I know Everlane does some of their silk tops in grey-white, but I think you said you already have some Everlane shells that won't work for this particular purpose?

  • Suz replied 2 years ago

    LaPed -- you are so right about the white. I can do a true white, though, and a cream tone will (surprisingly) still work passably though it is not my best. Winter white is best but as you say, really hard to find. Everlane is worth looking at. The shells I already have are bright red and a sort of medium blue -- I wear them as stand alone tops in summer. 

    Joy, thank you! 

  • kerry replied 2 years ago

    Any of these?





  • viva replied 2 years ago

    Suz, I also love the Zara one you listed that Lisap also liked. Can you tell me why you didn't try that one? (I actually might order it today - as this "completer piece" is also a hole for me too.) Just wondering what made you wait on it...

    PS On CM, they really must be having a sleeve moment. I had dinner with our daughter Anna, and she had on a gorgeous sweater with these huge sleeves with lacing detail: CM, of course. I have no idea how she got her coat on over them!

  • Suz replied 2 years ago

    Vivian, I haven't decided not to order the Zara. But I would need to order something else, too, to get free delivery and returns here, so I will need time to consider that. 

  • Sterling replied 2 years ago

    I love, LOVE, how the Forum reaches out with so much incredibly helpful information.  Although I personally am not shopping for this exact type of garment, I will be saving the information for future reference.  

  • Suz replied 2 years ago

    You said it, Sterling. We are lucky indeed to get this kind of help here. It has made my life so much easier!

  • Mainelady replied 2 years ago

    Suz, I have been following along, holding out hope for my own holes. You have fabulous jackets! I have a couple of older Vince Camuto that work well for me. I have a couple of sleeveless blouses from Loft that can hold their own if the jacket needs to be removed. I have had some luck at TJ Maxx, but it is hit or miss and you have to take time to go through quite a few racks to find the hidden gems.

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