Going-Out Tops are Back and Legitimately Better Than Before

If I’m being really honest, my only problem with going-out tops has ever been that I hate going out. Now that they might actually be coming back (for real this time!), with nary a nightclub in sight, I am as excited as a person on the brink of spandex-pant explosion could be. We’ve been talking about whether the elusive going-out top would be back for a while now. In 2014, we posited our first guesstimation; by 2015, we were straight-up styling ourselves silly; and then one time, last year, we ran a slideshow of lots of men in, you know, going-out tops. (Truly a pièce de résistance, if I may say so.)

There is a photo of Kendall Jenner swirling around the Internet again wherein she wears a jewel-encrusted mini dress that is probably actually a top on the occasion of her 21st birthday. She is deliberately emulating a look that Paris Hilton wore decades earlier — a look that has come to define fashion of the early aughts.


That Jenner chose not to include butterfly clips to complete her look is disappointing. What is not disappointing, however, is our close proximity to a genuine resuscitation, punctuated by the Fall 2017 runway season. Anthony Vaccarello’s second collection for Saint Laurent, for example, was practically an homage to the nightclubs of the 2000s. And there have been halter tops everywhere — the kind that look like Kate Moss once wore them, and those that may moonlight as belts. Look no further than London’s Marques’Almeida or Ashish, Milan’s Gucci, or New York’s Rosie Assoulin.

But to understand the value, the meaning, the importance of a going-out top — I mean to really understand — you have to get inside the trend’s apex. The story of how it all started. The women! The trailblazers! The champions of chest-decoration and navel grazing, of casual award ceremonies and likewise red carpets that requested, nay, demanded, the kind of upstaging that only a terrible, shiny, one-shoulder jersey top is capable of. This brings us to the above slideshow, an important retrospective, lesson and case study in the glory of the going-out top.

When you’re done clicking through, meet me back here as we contemplate the below:

And then get ~intellectual~ about it, which is to ask: Are you in, or are you out?

Photos via Getty Images

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  • Natty


    • Your energy is dangerously contagious, I honestly got more excited about the slideshow because of it.

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  • IN (with the butterfly clips that I also wore at New Year’s Eve) !

  • Mariana

    They are legitimately better because now they actually look like going out tops and not underwear with bling bling like the 2000’s ones ahahahah

  • earlyholo_scene
  • earlyholo_scene

    No. No. No. Next thing you know you’ll be telling us we should cut the waistband off our jeans. No.

    • Elizabeth Tamkin

      I’m kind of into that…. uh oh

  • tmm16

    Ugh the satin lace-trimmed cami from Helmut Lang is so good. Need.

  • Vintage EMMANUELLE CHRIQUI??? what a TREAT

  • Katerina Bal

    I knew not to donate that black sequin haltertop in the back of my closet. The time has come! I am in

    • TherapyCranes

      I JUST donated mine!

  • Dani Heifetz

    I have since printed out the ‘men in going out tops’ collage and hung it up on my wall- out of everything that I have hanging, it by far gets the most compliments.

  • horusfitzfancy

    Into these in theory but in practice the process for wearing so many of the above-pictured is something like:

    Step 1: Don’t have nipples.

    Step 2: If you have nipples get rid of them. I don’t know how just make them not be there. They are going to get #wrecked in this impossible-to-wear-a-bra top* made entirely out of scratchy sequins or rhinestones that are literally chain-linked together. You are gonna come away from this night out looking like one of those intense runners who are too hardcore to put a Band-Aid over their nips before running a literal entire marathon. That’s the situation we are dealing with.

    Step 3: Wear the top.

    *Unless you are in Destiny’s Child because you know Tina Knowles has your back and will sew a skin-toned liner into those bad boys.

    • Yes, please do a story on going out tops for larger chested women! It has been a struggle to find anything that doesn’t make me self-conscious!

  • Sarah Loftus

    Is it just me or do none of these tops ever look flattering on? Maybe I associate the styles with my prepubescent years when I didn’t feel nice or truly comfortable in anything but tried SO HARD

  • kjrobot

    But hats off to you guys, that slideshow is priceless (but it also made me realize that even with an update….NOPE).

  • Amelia Diamond

    I love this story so much

  • Rosie

    omg omg so many spaghetti straps~*

  • Mae

    Most of these are Nope for me, though super fun to look at. Having said that, Nicole Kidman’s (slide 4) sleeveless mock-neck number is kind of doing it for me. PS – she’s giving me major Alicia Silverstone vibes in that pic.

  • nicolacash

    Why was Kate Moss’ plain white tank included in that though?

  • ValiantlyVarnished

    I literally screamed at my computer screen, “Why?! Why did we do this?!” Ahhh the early 00’s – the fashion struggle was REAL.

  • Isabel

    I’ve been ‘in’ for a while now. Is that terribly un-trendy or super-trendy, I ask?!?!

  • I’ve been wearing going out tops for a while! I live in Vancouver, where some girls go out in a sweater, jeans, and sneakers. Last time I went out I wanted to wear a dress, and my boyfriend told me not to because I’d look too overdressed. Still wore a dress, but every now and then I still want to wear jeans, where going out tops come in. I have two halter tops and I love them!

  • Cassandra

    I feel like these don’t work unless you have smaller boobs that can acceptably be out in the world unharnessed/implants that don’t require a bra. I was so glad when this trend disappeared.

  • liberal elite
  • Tanya

    Obviously the tops in the slideshow are hideous bc we are all still cringing about all things early 2000s, but I must say Kendall looks v good and I have been loving wearing weird spaghetti-ish tops with no bra. Modernize it with high waisted black jeans and a moto jacket…honestly perfect for a night out. HOWEVER, CAN WE NOT BRING BACK ANYTHING ELSE FROM THAT AWFUL DECADE. MAKE SWEATPANTS DIE.

  • That slideshow made me feel so nostalgic for an era of women that felt more natural (?). Like you can see the makeup, you can see they are styled, you know that it’s not natural which makes them more human and in a way more natural (?). I don’t know if anyone else feels that way, maybe it’s because it was a time of candid photos and not impossible-to-achieve standards of beauty through a feed of perfect images.

  • I’m sorry to blow your cover but this article was actually a ‘hidden’ case for sparkle and diamonte. I’m guessing that’s the MR teams latest craving. So, erm, what’s next?

    …because this Magpie wants more!

  • SpiritAndCourage

    Love the look in theory and I want to be in, but my only problem with going out tops – especially when paired with low-rise pants – is that it reminds me of a time where people were separated into “can” and “can’t” in terms of whether they were allowed to “pull-off” a look (read:skinny enough). I still have nightmares from hearing girls talk about ‘muffin top’ as if it was a disgusting personal attack on their eye balls.

  • b.e.g.

    IN. Why not? Find a nice tasteful one, and invest in a good strapless bra. Or not. Although most of us just cannot or do not feel comfortable braless, unless we’re in jammies.

    Every generation has fashion bits that make us cringe in retrospect. Believe it or not, there was a time when we looked back at the 1970s and cringed. Now here we are buying bell bottoms and so on, and loving everything 70s. I raided “my mother’s closet” and found treasures. The decade I hated the most is 1980s. Because of the oversized everything especially shoulders. Had to throw out all my blazers because they looked ridiculous.

  • Deanna

    You’re missing some devore velvet!