Ask Belle: Tops That Don’t Have to Be Tucked

Oct 20, 2014

Dear Belle,

I desperately need new work tops to wear to my big-law job.  The problem? I don’t look good in flowy/drapey/slouchy/boxy tops, but that’s all that seems to be available this fall.  Even the sweaters are oversized!  I need structured tops (not button-downs, but tops that can be left untucked and look professional, not too long).  Please help.

love the blog, S.

S, I feel your pain.  I hate when the tails of my tops hang out, but I loathe tucking shirts into my jeans.  Truly structured tops are hard to find in moderate price points, but I found a few that eliminate some of your issues.

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Boden Spot Jacquard Top ($62) // Theory Drate Stay Top ($160) // WHBM Ponte Pleat-Bodice Top ($79)

This Boden blouse is a great example of a top that can be tailored to be boxy or fitted.  A side-seam adjustment is an inexpensive alteration that can give your tops a great shape.  I also found this affordable Forever21 top in a bright blue, and this wine-colored Dorothy Perkins top (also in tall and petite).

I also like this Vince Camuto pinstripe top with a strong structure to it.  It would look great with grey trousers.  This heavy jersey top from Boden has mod structure and an on-trend funnel neck.

I bought this Theory blouse at the Bloomingdale’s F&F sale.  I didn’t think I would like it because the gathered hem isn’t may favorite, but I love it.  The color is a gorgeous pine green, and the fit is much more structured than I thought it would be.  This navy blouse from Joie has a similar look without being too drapey.

The last style that I would suggest is a peplum top.  If you can find one that has a slimmer peplum, like this WHBM number, it will define the waist and create the illusion of an hourglass shape.  Rebecca Taylor and BCBG offer tops with a similarly structured shape.  But my favorite tailored peplum top comes from Asos–it’s crisp, it’s gorgeous, it’s $35.

Plus-size ladies should have a look at this Alfani top with a gathered hem.  I didn’t find any others with a strong structure, so if you would like to share a tailored plus-size blouse, please do so in the comments.

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  1. Love the boden top and own the WHBM one, the former while very pretty would look very boxy on me, so your suggestion of side seam alteration will have to be my saving grace for it..and the peplum top is beautiful. Love this wine shade that WHBM added to their collection, fits and sits really well..

  2. TheLoop says:

    Vince Camuto is an excellent suggestion. I have 2-3 tops from Macys that are structured, with sleeves, in a stiff suit-like fabric and have interesting enough details to allow me to wear them on their own (e.g. one has a peplum, another has gold decorative buttons). You might have to go to a store to get a better selection.

  3. The WHBM top is great, but I wouldn’t say the others are particularly fitted. The Boden top would make me look several pounds heavier, I’m sure, and the Theory top would only by flattering if tucked into a pencil skirt.

    I feel S’s pain, though–I’m always look for dressy tops that actually have a waistline.

  4. Tight says:

    Beware of the Navy Boden Top! I ordered it, and it is cut for impossibly narrow shoulders. I could not even get it over my head.

  5. jwalk says:

    I recently tried on this top (https://www.thelimited.com/product/cap-sleeve-top/20075576.html?prefn1=saleStatus&ppid=c10&start=10&dwvar_20075576_colorCode=150&cgid=scandal-collection-inspired-by-kerry-washington&prefv1=regular) from the Limited Scandal collection and it’s actually very well fitted and flattering, without a huge price tag.

    I don’t know if all the suggestions listed are fitted… some look quite boxy or flowy to me.

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