Did you know that in 1973, a bunch of tops were inappropriately manufactured without straps and shipped to a garment trader in New York City? Elie Tahari caught sight of them, snatched them all and took them to the East Village where he sold them for $4 a pop. You can’t even get a coffee in the East Village for $4 anymore, let alone a tube top — which according to our faulty crystal ball may very well be coming baaaaaaaaack.
A moment for sausage making: Amelia and I originally planned to publish this story as a text message conversation that we would have on the ostensible return of the tube top, citing its sociopolitical implications and how the shirt’s return would more largely impact the global financial market. But after engaging in a healthy back and forth about the history of the top, we (I?) realized that there’s really little to say beyond, man, it’s fun to reminisce.
How many times did Britney Spears and Tara Reid and Rose McGowan circa Jawbreaker make questionable decisions about their choice in tops? How many times did we mistake those questionable decisions for really great ones that encompassed a style era defined by the very impractical wearing of thick straps as shirts?
But is this “return” one informed by the proliferation and ultimate death of the off-the-shoulder top? Or is it simply an ancillary product of the style cues we are taking from the 2000s? There are so many different pockets baked into the fashion of the early aughts, and one of the most articulate pockets to emerge is that of the trifecta that is Patricia Field, Carrie Bradshaw and Sarah Jessica Parker. That was thoughtful style. And this thoughtfulness is a principle that seems to be totally bleeding into the way we dress now.
So how do you, if you do, wear a tube top in 2016?
Steal the anterior Bradshaw’s look. Her tube tops were plenty and stretchy and looked especially meaningful when she had scarves wrapped around her arms. But, you know, bare worked, too.
Or travel back in time (this is why fashion is so much fun! Time travel on the cheap, perspective-wise) to the heyday of Diana Vreeland and wear one with a mini skirt that may as well itself be a tube top.
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"For years in Europe I'd been bare-legged and thong-sandaled once the heat came on…In Capri we used to walk up through the hills, through the vineyards and all the way out to Tiberius' palace- that's a hell of a walk." -Diana Vreeland Mrs. Vreeland famously popularized the Capri sandal in the United States. Here she is in front of the Southampton Bathing Club, shot by Bert Morgan. #SmashinglyBrilliant #DVParfumsOnHoliday #AroundTheWorldWithDV #Capri #CapriSandal #FashionEditor #DianaVreeland #EmpressofFashion
If you take this route, brush up on your knowledge of the late Vogue editor, who first put the top in Vogue in the 50s when women were still largely wearing them as bathing suits by the seaside…
A la Destiny’s Child.
So, you in?
Feature and carousel images via Getty Images.