Mental block: In need of top suggestions

Ah, yes. That time of year again. I need to replace/ upgrade some summer tops. I've just done an edit and the closet is looking a little sparse. I made an order from Zara, but most of what I ordered is going straight back. So now I am faced with a dilemma. 

I looked into my closet yesterday and felt: I have nothing current. Nothing to wear. 

Now, that is a silly lie. Of course I have some current things!!  

But, I do seem to be lacking in current-feeling tops that I can wear with my jeans (either BF or skinny) or with my tube skirts. 

(I might also be lacking in a suitable topper for wearing with my BF jeans in intermediate temperatures when my wool jackets begin to feel too warm. Angie, suggestions for styles?) 

I think what I'm missing (perhaps?) is some drapey tee shirts (or similar) for my very casual life. But other styles could also work. I feel like I want to shake up the silhouettes a bit, do something different. 

What I have:

  • Several linen tees from J. Crew with boatneck and 3/4 sleeve. 
  • A short sleeved patterned linen tee from J. Crew
  • Half a dozen button up shirts (some of these are boxy or silky/ drapey, and some are more fitted.) 
  • A few sleeveless "tent" or trapeze-like tops for high summer -- it's still too cool for me to wear these. 

Anyone have suggestions?  I seem to have a mental block about what kinds of tops would update my look. 

Note that one reason I haven't found tees is that I need some structure in the neckline -- a lot of the flowing drapey ones have necklines that are far too loose and unstructured for me. I can wear a boatneck but don't look good in a low scoop or a low V. 

Bonus points for items that are available online in Canada. 

(Examples of some of the things I have in Finds.)

This post is also published in the youlookfab forum. You can read and reply to it in either place. All replies will appear in both places.


  • Beth Ann replied 6 years ago

    I thought a similar thing while staring in my closet yesterday.  Most of my tops are "last summer" or a couple seasons prior, and my budget is stretched (gotta make the great trip west this summer!).  Of course, we have very different bodies to dress!  Sometimes when I see a high neckline that makes me look like I've literally wrapped myself in a sock, I think:  "This would look great on Suz." 

    I will be web shopping tonight.  I'll send links of anything I find that fits your categories -- that you won't be sized out of.

    For now, do you have any really lightweight toppers you could wear over your tops for extremely hot weather?

  • Suz replied 6 years ago

    Thanks, Beth Ann. Actually, this is another wardrobe hole. I have denim jackets and my last year's floral jacket from Zara that doesn't seem to be working as well for me this year. And that is it for lightweight. I was actually planning to pass the Zara along but held onto it because I had nothing else. But when I tried it on the other night I wasn't loving it any more. Hmmm. 

  • Mona replied 6 years ago

    Suz, I just remembered this post from Sveta last year. She was able to find some nice tops from Le Chetau. 
    Would something like this work for you? or are you looking for more casual?

  • Diana replied 6 years ago

    Hmm, I was going to suggest wearing the sleeveless things with a topper too, but I see the topper is another hole. Do you have a bomber jacket?

    What about a lightweight spring sweater? Like linen, or cotton, in a mesh or lace knit.

  • Suz replied 6 years ago

    Mona, thank you -- I will check out Le Chateau. I tend to find the quality not so great there, but it is always worth an investigation. Leave no retail stone unturned! 

    Topper is definitely a hole, Diana. I don't have a bomber -- I didn't find one that I liked on me and think it's a trend I'll just let pass. 

    I do have a couple of lightweight sweaters -- but for some reason I wasn't feeling fab in them the other day. Maybe this is simply because I wear that kind of silhouette at home all the time and I am bored to bits. I'm not sure. 

  • TraceyLiz65 replied 6 years ago

    Sounds like it's time to shake things up a bit and fill in those holes... 

  • sarah replied 6 years ago

    hi Suz,

    I'm not sure if this is helpful, but here are some of the tops I've gotten this spring. (I haven't bought the halter top from BR yet, but would like to try it).

    I bought the Vince shirt in "Tribal Maze", and I really love it - it's sheer light-weight washable silk. The Talbot's top is also washable silk.

    I ended up getting the EF sweater in two colors, deep citrine and sky blue. It's really lightweight, almost like a tee.

    Anyway, some of these might be too frumpy for you, but they do work well with skirts.

    Good luck,

  • Transcona Shannon replied 6 years ago

    I'm afraid I don't have anything to offer in terms of suggestions Suz but I do have sympathy. It's tough when you clearly identify a need and then can't find what you're looking for and sometimes don't even KNOW what you're looking for.

    I can say that I've had some luck in finding drapey tees at Smart Set. No, the quality isn't the greatest but I don't purchase these items with longevity in mind. They're just for this summer and they're comfortable and fun to wear.

  • Adelfa replied 6 years ago

    This is a difficult one, Suz, and I'm right there with you. I bought four $7.50 tees at ON but the necklines are too deep for work. I am totally not feeling my button-up shirts. I've bought some drapey tees from Mango but not enough and one is showing wear already! And I too have the topper problem. Tough!

  • Mo replied 6 years ago

    My first thought was swing tanks, but I see you have that already and it's not even warm enough for them.  Maybe if necklines are too low, look for a cutout type like Janet got from BR or mine from Nordies?  
    (I can't find Janet's online but here is another with sheer inset )

    EDIT: here's Janet's shown under a cardi

  • texstyle replied 6 years ago

    My favorite tees for this summer seem to be the ones I bought from Gap for about $12 on sale, the Essential Tees.  I also got a sleeveless thicker white tee from Lands End for like $10 that feels nice. Oh and jcrew has a silk cotton popover (in a pattern no less) that I haven't received yet but am hoping it comes soon and works since it's a final sale. I love it as shown with faded denim for summer.

  • Angie replied 6 years ago

    I'm here. YES. We need some updated top styles to make our 2014 style look even more current.  

    Suz, we have similar body types and style sensibilities so I hope these suggestions are helpful. I've tried them all on and love them - some are hanging in my closet. I can give you specifics about the styles, sizes, colours and fits if you like. 

  • Suz replied 6 years ago

    Thank you all so much! Isn't the "Finds" feature great?!?  It's so wonderful to be able to see the items right in the post and to link to them so easily. 

    Angie, these are good suggestions. Thank you. I already had a few of these items in my "finds" but it is good to get confirmation that they could potentially work. I am going to have to check whether the Bay has any of the Vince Camuto tops. Sometimes they are available there. Otherwise, it's trusting to luck at Winner's (unlikely) or ordering from the US. Grrr. 

    Oh, and I am in love with the Reiss top. :) 

    I have the J. Crew tux shirt in white and love it for this time of year; it was in the wash yesterday and that might have been part of the cause of my woe. I also have a linen/ cotton striped shirt from J. Crew from last year similar to one you pinned. And a popover shirt in silk. And a few more nice button ups, and a sweater similar to the Boden, but it isn't feeling all that current to me -- maybe because I have been wearing it (or a similar one) for three years now. 

    I think what I'm lacking most is a crossover style blouse or shirt and/ or some drapey hi-low hemmed tops. 

    texstyle, I hope that top works for you - it's terrific looking! 

    Mo, thank you -- it would have to be the sheer inset version for me. I do have a couple of sleeveless tops but it's still too cool for that right now. I think my other problem is a lack of toppers because with the right topper, some of those tops would work. 

    Jody, I usually love button ups but I am not feeling them as much right now, either. I am not entirely sure why. 

    Shannon, I might just stop by Smart Set. I used to get my tees from them. 

    Sarah, I love your suggestions -- gorgeous colours. Thank you! 

    Tracey - thanks! 

  • Suja replied 6 years ago

    I don't have a lot to add but I will be watching this thread closely.  I have difficulty with tops.  I added a bunch this year but they are mostly for my business casual work environment.  Here are a few that I added with higher necklines, even though lower necklines are what I usually look for.

  • Angie replied 6 years ago

    Suz, the Pleione drape front top is a better fit on us than the VC. Get that one instead. (Look through all colour options. I have 4 on the way to me and broke my "no sleeveless because I run too cold" rule). 

    I LOVE my tux shirts from J.Crew. Have the white and blue - and am ordering another white. They are my button down shirt wardrobe essential for the season. I will have a total of 3 this Summer. They make everything look more current. 

    I am wearing my modern classic shirts, striped sweatshirts, and linen shirts with a sporty support act - sneakers, perforated belt and backpack (all white). That has injected trend back into these pieces. (Although the striped Boden sweatshirts are trendy already). 

    I am impressed with the knitwear I linked to from the Loft. I will get some of those styles too. I am a monster this season. xo 

  • Suz replied 6 years ago

    Angie, I am going to have to check out the Loft, then. I actually have a credit there. My past experiences have been poor (the quality). But I know that things can change season to season. 

    Thank you for the tip about the Pleione. I had a feeling that might be the case. I think that is only going to come from Nordstrom's. 

    I have the sneakers and the white belt. :) But was still feeling a lack of that "current" edge. Possibly because the just wore the sporty casual look for a month solid while away, complete with a REAL backpack. Hmmm. Food for thought. 

    Suja, thank you so much for those finds. The Ted Baker tee is gorgeous and I like some of your others as well! 

  • Angie replied 6 years ago

    Hah. Suz, you need a sporty break. Makes sense. 

    I don't know how the Loft stuff will handle the laundry. But I'm giving them a go with those tops. My clients have been happy with their Loft stuff this year, which helps. And truly -  I buy stuff from Zara - so I shouldn't have a double standard about the Loft, right? They represent the low in my high-low style. xo

  • Isabel replied 6 years ago

    Suz, I am not sure that I am much help because... I have is a question.  What do you mean by "intermediate temps".  

    I love short sleeve jackets and vests over linen t shirts.  Do you need something long sleeve ?  Something in between boiling hot and cool enough for wool ?   

  • Suz replied 6 years ago

    Isabel, good question. I think I mean temps. in the low to mid 20s without a lot of humidity. So 70s for you. What we're getting here now, more or less. 

    I LOVE the idea of a vest .I tried one on our Boston trip but it didn't work...had to send it back, alas....

    I think I have figured out my real needs now: a few tops in different styles from what I have, and an interesting topper or two to wear with sleeveless tops. 

  • Isabel replied 6 years ago

    Suz, I find that always to be a challenge.   :  ( 

    This reminds me so much of you...over a longer white button down.

    what about this;choiceId=

    I also want to throw out there  ( at you, so duck !  LOL ) that you can always alter something.  For example you could always have the sleeves removed or shorted on a jacket. I would LOVE that floral jacket as a short sleeve, for example.    Good Luck !   :  ) 

  • Gaylene replied 6 years ago

    I hear you, Suz, because I was feeling much the same in early May until my DIL directed me to spend a few hours at the downtown Bay in Toronto.  She wanted to go into the office for a few hours before we went for a late brunch, so I dutifully wandered upstairs to the area outside of the Room. The place was almost deserted so it seemed churlish to not start talking to a really nice sales assistant who seemed happy to see me. The upshot was I was given a dressing room and she started bringing me in stuff to try on--labels and drapey items that I wouldn't have normally given more than a passing glance.

    To make a long story short, I ended up discovering that I did really like some of the Eileen Fisher items that Angie has been showing in her Finds lately, in particular, a silk bomber which eventually made its way home with me and has been my favorite topper to wear with white jeans this spring. Very light-weight, versatile, and a change from my usual structured toppers.

    My other revelation was Weekend MaxMara. The Bay had a good selection of the spring/summer collection when I was there and I really liked the minimalist, streamlined look of the linen jackets, cropped pants, and silk tops.

    The best part was I could take advantage of a storewide 20% off promotion! I also noticed that the Canadian dollar prices were almost identical (or even a few dollars less) than the Canadian dollar prices at Nordstrom's and I didn't have to add those horrendous shipping and duty costs. The only thing I can think is that the Bay is trying to step up their game at this pricepoint knowing that Nordstrom's will be opening its stores in Canada in the next few years. None of this stuff is showing up on the regular Bay website, but, if you can get to TO in the next few weeks, I'd certainly recommend taking a look around that area just outside the Room. I'll bet that some of these items will have been reduced even further by then...

  • Gaylene replied 6 years ago

    Just an addendum to our US fabbers about why it's getting harder and harder for me to justify ordering from US sites. That polyester Pleione top that Angie suggested would cost almost $100 CD once duties and shipping costs are included. On the other hand, I can get that silk WeekendMaxMara top on sale for $150-$175 if I buy it in Canada on sale--which makes the MaxMara top worth considering in my books.

    Online shopping US sites is tempting because the selection is huge, but sometimes I'm finding that I'm ending up paying designer prices for what should be a less expensive option.

  • Joy replied 6 years ago

    Suz, I can only be sympathetic. All I see are drapey jersey tops and those don't work on my low volume chest, especially when also low cut. I'm kind of resigned to wearing what I have this year, especially the silk or linen oversized tees with short diagonal sleeves. I'd love to add a light weight unlined moto jacket in white as a topper. Anything lined or heavy or polyester is just too warm, even in air conditioning. I have a sleeved Pleione crossed and banded top that is flattering enough so the ones of that style that are sleeveless in Angie's picks show promise. The one I have forms a slit neckline that has a tiny snap to hold it from gaping open.

  • Glory replied 6 years ago

    Suz - I was in Reitmans the other day and they have this top in a very lovely fabrication. High neck, feels lovely on. I did end up buying it with the blush lip print. It might be worth a try - they have solids and a few prints available.

  • abc replied 6 years ago

    Not sure how low of a v this would be on you but I just splurged on this top and I'm in love, haha

  • sinead replied 6 years ago

    As someone with a similar body type (but I have very narrow shoulders too) I'm thrilled you've asked this question. I have felt so frustrated this season with the open, flowy styles- which I love on everyone else- but I can't make them work for me. I am heading off to the Loft today, to try some of those tops Angie suggested. Good luck with the search!

  • Ariadne replied 6 years ago

    Try Aritzia--the Babaton/Talulah/Wilfred stuff, not the TNA/Community stuff.  Hit or miss but they usually have quite a few high necked tops.

  • viva replied 6 years ago

    Oh my goodness, Suz. Did you write this post for me? This is absolutely my issue right now. I have to come back to this when I have more time to read closely and have another window open to order. :)

    I think my recent boredom comes from problems with tops. Just do not know what / how to wear things right now. But so many fantastic ideas here, I am going to try one or two things. Thanks for getting things started!

  • Vicki replied 6 years ago

    Suz, I feel your concerns and often wrestle with the same mental block.  I love all three of your finds:  Cats rule my world and I still lament missing out on the Equipment cat shirt; the Zara is breezy with a nice neckline and you can't go wrong with a boatneck.  Here are a few more from J. Crew for you.

    Heather blue sweatshirt tunic

    Side-slit tunic:

    As Angie mentioned above, the Thomas Mason tuxedo shirt for J. Crew is a beautiful shirt.

    The Boden striped tees are also terrific.  As for a light jacket or cover-up, what about a structured sweater that looks like jacket?  I also love lightweight field jackets in navy (still on the hunt for one, myself) that have structure and are a nice way to complete a casual outfit.

  • Suz replied 6 years ago

    Thank you so much for all your fab suggestions (and therapeutic comments)! It's a GREAT season for all kinds of clothes and I love the look of the tops, but am having trouble adding the variety I'd like due to the neckline issues. You've really helped. 

    Ariadne, I need to get onto the Aritzia web site pronto. I always forget them. 

    Sinead, I hear you loud and clear! Hope you meet with success at the Loft!

    ABC, in love is a good place to be! I will check out the top. Sometimes I can do a V (or wear a cami with a V, LOL.) 

    Glory, great idea. Leave no retail stone unturned. 

    Joy, Viva, so glad I am not alone. Well, actually, I wish you didn't have my issues, but at least I feel a little less peculiar! :)  I do take comfort in the fact that Angie has found some wonderful things. That might mean we can, too! 

    Isabel, you are so clever. Good point about alterations. For some reason those Macy's links were not loading but I will go back to them. Sometimes that site is just a little wonky from Canada. 

    Gaylene, you are a genius. I LOVE Max Mara weekend. You're right that it is pricey, but as you say, the $$ exchange plus duties etc. have made US shopping less attractive. I have not ordered from the States except for my Boston trip when I was going to be there and could bring things back legally without duty due to length of stay. 

    And I am in luck - I'm in Toronto for work next week. I will be really packed with meetings but might get a few moments to go scouting on Thursday....stay tuned! I love the items you linked to. You have been my summer saviour in the past, so crossing fingers it will work out again. I can also try the Eileen Fisher stuff when I am there. I had worried that the necklines would be too floppy but I see Angie included one of the sweaters in her picks for me in this post, so I think I need to give them a try. The quality is so high it is worth it if the fit is great. 

    Thanks again, all. I am feeling more hopeful. Especially since I just got  a little delivery from J. Crew.  ;) 

  • Suz replied 6 years ago

    Vicki, we cross posted! thank you. Those are also good suggestions. I am off to investigate. 

  • Tanya replied 6 years ago

    Suz, you have already received some amazing suggestions, but I wanted to include a couple since we have similar body types and I have bought a lot of new tops this season.
    The crossover blouses can sometimes be found with an extra little snap at the neck that makes the whole neckline much more closed, like this black top.
    Then, how about upscale silk sweatshirts with short sleeves? I am considering this J Crew one. Then,what about silk tees, or shift blouses as they are sometimes called?
    I am eyeing the radiant orchid one and already own the two patterned versions. And finally, silk blouses with dolman sleeves like the berry Vince?

  • Suz replied 6 years ago

    Tanya, thank you  -- these are gorgeous options. I especially love the Rebecca Taylor and the J. Crew, but all are possibles. I have added them to my own "finds." (Don't you just LOVE that feature???) 

  • viva replied 6 years ago

    Suz, did you go with  your regular size for the JCrew tux shirt, or did you size up for slouch? (ordering now!)


  • viva replied 6 years ago

    Oh, and the lovely silk-front sweater may go in my JCrew basket too. Thank you, Tanya!!!

  • Peri replied 6 years ago

    I've been top shopping like crazy, but we are so different in body type and climate needs I don't think anything I've found would be what you are looking for. But good luck! Nice to have Suz for company!

  • Suz replied 6 years ago

    Peri, the ones you have found have been complete and total winners for me. So you are doing well. I will keep you in mind. Anything I love that won't work on me might work on you. :) 

    Vivian, I went with my regular J. Crew size for the shirt. A size up would also have worked, but this was boxy already. 

  • Elizabeth P replied 6 years ago

    Oh man, do I understand!  I discovered this exact problem when I went to put together my Hawaii challenge capsule.  I don't like ANY of my summer tops! (well, not really, but you know).  And a frustrating thing - I have a drawer full of new tee's, that I've picked up on sale etc because in the past I found fit hard, so would grab when I found them.  Well, they all FIT.  I don't want them to fit, I want them to drape!! 

    Unfortunately my neckline requirements are totally opposite from yours, so I cant' take a lot of the marvelous suggestions posted here.  Maybe I should start another post for those of us linebackers needing scoop and vee necklines!  This is holding me back I think on a lot of my summer bottoms, esp thinking of silk track pant styles.  I can't complete the look.  Sigh.

  • Suz replied 6 years ago

    Elizabeth, absolutely start a new thread. You are NOT alone and your IT sisters will chime in! 

  • Aida replied 6 years ago

    Suz, offering commiseration here as I've been struggling with that the past few years. Which makes me feel a bit silly as there are soooo many cool options out there in recent years, but there you have it. I also wear sweaters A LOT, which probably doesn't help matters. I'm going to have a look through all the great suggestions there, though our neckline preferences are a bit different. Still good eye education, so thanks for starting this and I hope you get some more interesting top options soon!

  • Peri replied 6 years ago

    Suz, I think you have me mixed up with someone else! I've only posted one thing in a month...the only thing I really like. I have bought about 6 tops, but tonight I'm staring at my closet and thinking I have nothing to wear tomorrow. I think I could return 5 out of 6 and not miss them. Summer shopping is not going well for me!

  • replied 6 years ago

    Vicki you mentioned a lightweight navy field jacket...I have this one and love it:

    Sorry...I can't post a picture from my ipad for some reason.

  • Suz replied 6 years ago

    Peri, I'm thinking of that last top you showed us. It is SO sensational on you that I will probably never forget it. But of course you can't wear that every day. 

    I think I was subconsciously hoping you had found a couple more this fab. 

  • Karie replied 6 years ago

    Suz, I love those tops Angie picked from Loft (my favs are below). High neckline, fluid fit, very current. I had some problems with some Loft linen tees that I purchased last summer, though - they stretched out a bit at the neckline and hemline in the wash. Hopefully the newer ones are better quality. I saw some cute tops on the J. Crew site, although the swiss dot tuxedo top looks a bit sheer. Ted Baker has some gorgeous florals, did you check out any of those? 

    I wish you lived here - we could go shopping today, me for a dress and you for tops!

  • Peri replied 6 years ago

    Yes, that one is the favorite! Notice Karie just recommended it with Finds. I do truly love it...but no, nothing else has been that fab!

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