What constitutes a top? It is one of life’s most perplexing questions, rife with multiple definitions and viewpoints and argument.
On its broadest, most generalized scale — when this topic is at its messiest, at its least satisfying — one could simply use the word “top” in replacement of the word “shirt.” Oh but good lord, no. That is like using the label “committed and serious relationship” in replacement of the colloquial “hanging out.” Someone is going to get hurt.
There also exists the limiting idea that suggests a top is a shirt for women. Stuffy societal implications of that statement aside, this denotation is wildly unhelpful because of all the other categories that fall into “shirts for women” that are absolutely not tops. A nice blouse is not a top, for example. It is a nice blouse. A turtleneck — though perhaps more widely accepted as unisex, especially in Maine — is even further from the top truth than the aforementioned nice blouse. I especially wouldn’t call a button down shirt a top.
And just because it’s a tank doesn’t mean it has earned its keep.
It’s all very confusing, I know. One day I shall make you a nipple-covering guide.
But for now, the easiest way to differentiate between that which we consider shirts and the official, all-important top is to see if a “Yes” can be checked next to at least three out of these five quality-control guidelines:
1) Is it cropped?
2) Is it a little bit sassy/sexy/cool?
3) Could it be worn for the purpose of going out?
4) Does it feel more special than your average oxford or singlet?
5) If worn to your adult dinner birthday party, would you be a tiny bit offended?
I’ll let you and your therapist explore the why of number five. As for illustrative cues to help all of you visual learners, kindly refer to the slideshow above: handsome men, in the very definition of “tops.”
Collaged by Emily Zirimis.