Are Going Out Tops Coming Back?

Charlotte recently recounted the best part of starting to grow up as finally coming to terms with the fact that to go out does not mean to wear a going out top. I’d have adamantly agreed with this legitimate credo until a month ago. After all, I’ve long been a supporter of the tenet that if you’re at a place that requires you wear a going out top, you should really reconsider where you’re spending your recreational time.

But recently, my personal gauge of what to wear when socializing has changed. Just last week I wore a raw silk Max Mara wrap blouse for no reason other than my wanting to. Before that I considered a floral lace-trimmed camisole from Zara and, well, look at me now: brown silk, uneven hem, exposed arms and all. I’m wearing a bona-fide going out top and though it comes from the purveyors of weird (see: Maison Martin Margiela), it is what it is which is not who I am, or was. Know what I mean?

So what in the good name of plunging necklines and elastic velvet is happening?

I have three theories that come in the wake of having taken a recent interest in a. this satin top by Stella McCartney, b. this crop top by Delpozo and c. Giambattista Valli. Period.

The first is that like in the case of Isabel Marant’s pioneering wedge sneakers propelling a full-blown ugly shoe/sneaker-proper renaissance, so too is the white cotton “boyfriend” shirt making room to allow for a new interpretation of waist-up toppers (it’s beginning as poplin interpretations of white blouses in more feminine silhouettes like this one, by Acne, but you just wait). Where we forewent blouses in the name of t-shirts just a few years ago, here we are again, hungry to look like the better versions of our 1995-selves.

This parlays perfectly into theory #2, which essentially just suggests that going out tops were as much a part of the 90s Zeitgeist as plaid and Jordan Catalano were. Having exhausted every other element that made the decade unique, party shirts are the obvious next stop on a train called Misplaced Nostalgia.

And finally, quite simply, maybe we’re bored of t-shirts. Considering the boundless denim that I, personally, wear, it’s refreshing to think that the world can be my oyster in terms of what I choose to pair with my jeans. I’m not saying it’s going to be a halter top but I’m also not saying it’s impossible.


Of course, though, if I’m going to wear a going out top, I’m also going to make sure that it’s wearable under any circumstance, which is where the white sneakers permeating the first half of the above, shot-by-Charlotte photos come in.


And for when I am going out? Gladiator style bow pumps that are equal parts fantastic and devastating.

But the most important perspective — yours — remains undiscussed, so, talk to me about your party wear policies.

Maison Martin Margiela blouse (from Yoox, for $95, you’re welcome), Helmut Lang leather pants (now 70% off, you’re welcome again), Golden Goose sneakers, Chloe pumps.

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  • Lucy

    DESPERATION NATION: This top is not on Yoox anymore. 1. Why I have not seen it before, why and 2. amazing as always.

  • Before I looked through the slide-show, I was afraid you were referring to skin-tight polyester strappy tops, bejeweled with crap. Fortunately, you are not that kind of woman. I have no problem with YOUR version of a “going out top”, because I feel that all of the tops pictured above still look interesting, and are still worthy of a “man repeller”.I wouldn’t be worried about any of these tops attracting a “Bro” at a bar.
    I am happy for silk to make a comeback. Few things are sexier than silk on your bare skin.

    • Jackie @ Kleiden drew

      Ok so now I want to see a skin tight polyester strappy top with bejeweled crap. With a circle skirt. (What’s wrong with me?) Death by irony. šŸ™‚

  • Danielle

    Yup, i feel you Lucy. Where art thou YOOX blouse ?!

    • Leandra Medine

      Sometimes I feel like Yoox-ing is an art form.

      • Danielle

        Roger that.

  • Lle Schreiber

    My goodness, do I hope so – those are STUNNING. There have been so many unattractive trends, I’d love to have this one happen!


    Sabrina @ Living, Learning, Eating

  • monkeyshines
  • pinkschmink

    I have been waiting for the triumphant return of the going out top for what feels like forever. I literally cannot wait for the right moment to rock an explosion of pink organza in bustier form (alright, yes, this: with some ripped denim. Can. Not. Wait.

  • Dominque
  • LEANDRA! Where oh where did you find a pair of the beloved ’09 ChloĆ© pumps?

    • Leandra Medine

      A consignment shop! In Paris!

      • Liz

        Sounds like a donation to the douche bag jar is in order…

      • Damn, you’re good! They’d look so great with your $3 jeans.

  • I like wearing a nice top to go out personally!

    Mafalda ā¤

  • Jacki Huntington

    Can the “going out” top become so common to the wearer that the term loses meaning? Is its essence in its ability to transform? Because I think I pretty regularly exercise my right to don “going out” tops no matter where I’m going. Ruffles and prints and dramatic shapes and sexiness abound on my abdomen!

    P.S. Those gladiator bow shoes. Sweet Jesus.

  • Laura Anderson

    I had the ‘I’ll keep this for best’ thoughts. When is best?
    I say wear your best clothes all of the time!

    A Forte For Fashion


  • Dee

    my friends and I used to call our going out tops “city shirts” — namely, they were to be silky and worn to cool clubs and bars in NYC. Getting dressed was so easy back then… city shirt + jeans + heels = done.

  • This entire look with those amazing pumps are too good! You never go wrong Leandra! And it works just as good with those sneakers during the day.

  • Used to hate the concept of the “going out top” but designers seem to be doing a great job at reinventing! Love these!

  • hahaha, what’s next? A resurgence of the 90s going out staple, the black pant? Let’s pray not….

  • mary

    I’m so embarrassed. when did we find out we weren’t supposed to wear going out tops?? i’m not even being sarcastic.

  • Bodil Huisman

    Love the ChloƩ one; and your shoes are fierce!

  • farah

    We’re a little slow in Texas, we’re still doing the studded/sequined/glitter atrocities as if it were the first time around. I wore one with relatively less silver studs to a party last weekend, and was given the back-handed compliment of “I like your T-shirt and jeans”. I was wearing white slacks. Hahawut?

  • alina

    my goodness! “no, no I’m not cold!!” WHAAT?

  • I know totally what you mean about ‘going out top’ being something you sort of cringed upon after a while. I’ll never forget that liberating, rainy Saturday when I tossed all mine into a sack and took them to Goodwill. They starting to feel demeaning in a way, and yet now I find myself intrigued by glitzy tops with a bit of flash to them. What has changed is definitely the destination while wearing them. Absolutely, never again will I be at a club that stamps and x’es your hand depending on your age above (or below) 21. NO MORE!


  • Ashton

    Absolutely!!! Just started my very own blog too: xo

  • brilliant article as always!

  • Perry

    That Margiela top is crying to be steamed. Steamed!

  • T

    Growing up in the 90s makes it hard for me to revive any trend that hit that period. Hell, lets count the early 2000’s while we’re at it! BUT I could see me wearing a going out top as long as its not a halter (my hate for halter tops now is pretty high, with the exception of bathing suit tops, and one summer dress). However, that would also require me to have some good pants beyond my basic skinnys, which I do not. For now, I think i’ll stick to my dresses and skirts to look right.

  • Going out tops can be worn when ever you feel like it, in my opinion, it’s house you choose to style them, simple things like choice of shoes and jacket help to tone a piece down or dress an outfit up x

  • Princess Konakei

    Oh my, I love that first white outfit <3

  • Yes!

    This article is so timely. As I was cleaning my closet I realized that a lot of the stuff I had 12 years ago has come back….save the going out top and boot cut jeans. Maybe the boot cut is back in boyfriend form, but bot true boot cut circa 1998.

    Personally, I’m ready and happy for the return of the going out top. It is not any more objectively offensive than the miniskirt, minidress, and mini shorts that refuse to retire. If plaid and fisherman sweaters can come back, so can the going out top!!


    “going out tops” give me Sex and the City vibes.. and the look good with jeans, so why not?