ELLE: 34 Perfect Tops

SYDNEY WASSERMAN, ELLE.COM EDITOR, GIVES HER TAKES ON TOP-NOTCH STYLE

ELLE: Perfect Tops

We put a lot of emphasis on the perfect pair of jeans, but it’s what goes on top that makes them an expression of personal style. The range of fashion-forward top options seems to be limitless – change your shirt and you’ve changed your entire look. We sat down with ELLE.com Fashion & Shopping Editor Sydney Wasserman for her expert advice on all things tops.

Rue La La: Okay, we need the inside scoop on flattering tricks! Are there different styles that work best on different body types?
Sydney: I believe women with curves should choose more form-fitting tops instead of trying to hide their shape in baggy styles. A shapeless shirt can make you look larger than you may be. A few more rules of thumb: a button-down top should never be too tight so that the buttons look like they’re about to pop off, and a T-shirt should hit right below the waistband.

Rue La La: We tend to lean towards dresses when going somewhere formal – but what types of tops work best for dressy occasions?
Sydney: The key is wearing fabrics that appear rich – if it’s a print, try well-draped chiffon. And a silk blouse is always right for a dressy occasion.

Rue La La: What trends are you loving right now?
Sydney: Unexpected color combinations and color blocking, which will be big for spring. Color is an easy way to update your wardrobe – right now, I’m into bright sunshine yellow, poppy orange, true red, and bold emerald green. I also love the 70’s refined bohemian look, like rich jewel tones and peasant skirts.

Rue La La: What’s your weekend uniform – fitted, cropped, or long and drapey?
Sydney: I live in striped tees and long-sleeve tops. They go with everything. I tend to wear more fitted tops because I find them more flattering than drapey ones which can drown a smaller figure.

Rue La La: We think of New Yorkers as being great at layering. Share your secrets!
Sydney: The trick to layering is to use shades in the same range, like shades of grey or shades of drab green. Combine varying textures – start with a cotton tee, add a chunky knit, a fur vest, a soft cashmere scarf, and top it all off with a wool coat. The rest is about comfort and warmth.

Rue La La: A plain white tee – take us through a day-to-night transformation.
Sydney: For day, I’d pair it with comfortable slacks, like grey wool cropped pants or navy pleated trousers – really stylish if they’re the right fit and more Lauren Hutton than office attire. For evening, I’d go with a more extreme skirt – something with shine, embellishments, or really strong pleats. The beauty of a white tee is that it allows you to experiment with the bottom half of your outfit.

Rue La La: What kind of embellishments do you look for on your favorite tees?
Sydney: I think tees with pockets are great because they’re classic, but not too boring. Tees with embellished necklines can be nice – something with a light lace design or rhinestone accents – but nothing too heavy or over-designed. To dress up a simple tee, top it with an embellished jacket or slim-cut tuxedo blazer. It’s an easy, everyday look that’s stylish enough to draw eyes, and you’ll never feel too over- or under-dressed when you combine high and low styles.

Rue La La: What’s the most universally flattering top or neckline?
Sydney: A crewneck. Whether it’s a sweater or a leather shirt, it just works. For formalwear, I think something that has straps that fall right over the collarbone is most flattering because it gives more shine to a woman’s shoulders.

January 24, 2011