Over the Top

As a person who was born in the 80s, and grew up in the 90s - an era of pop princesses - strapless tops have featured large in my understanding of fashion. However,  and unsurprisingly, there isn't much scope for strapless top in the life of a 34-year-old lawyer. Gone are the days of low rise jeans and a town top on a Thursday night in Wellington. It was a bit sad, really, because I always feel ultra glam and swanky in something strapless. It really reads "I'm a fancy high flying woman at an exclusive fundraiser" for me, and that's the kind of powerful 'tude I need in my day to day life of working and eating kebabs. Obviously.


When I saw this option, which is C/MEO COLLECTIVE, I felt like there was a possibility that  strapless tops could come back into my life as a fashion-y option. I had seen some pics on my good friend Pinterest that had led me to believe that there was a way to layer strapless tops and make it appropriate for day-to-day life. I decided to give it a bash, attracted by both the colour and the belted style of this particular one. 


Why try this look? Well, it's what I think of as an "easy cheat". An easy cheat is any item that, when worn, immediately looks much more styled than it should. I'm wearing a black tshirt and some black pants - the most boring outfit imaginable. Throwing this top over that boring base takes one minute, but revs it up. Other easy cheats are embellished shoes, a brightly coloured coat, or an amazing, giant necklace. Zero work for maximum impact, big gold star from me.


If you want to experience the joy of layering over a T-shirt with a strapless top, consider the following: 

  • it needs to be tight, but not too tight. You're treading a delicate line between it being tight enough to stay up and so tight that it's physically painful to have any creases in the T-shirt pushed into your skin.
  • you want the strapless top to be somewhat firm, thick or rigid, so it kind of sits up on the body. If  it's too thin, floppy or delicate, it won't be robust enough to stay up with the fabric sitting underneath it. You don't want to have to hoick up a strapless top when you have a T-shirt underneath tucked into your pants. That's too many layers being dragged upwards and too much rearranging and faffing about. This one has some boning built in, and heavier fabric, which is ideal. 
  • I've gone with a longer style, split at the sides, and so it was important that had this belt detailing, in order to ensure that it created the nipped-in effect at the waistline that strapless tops are generally excellent for. This is one of the few times where I don't think a boxy shape would look particularly stylish. Use the strapless top to close in other items and create a structured look. 
  • you need a good shape for your bust. As previously disclosed, I have a body akin to that of a teen boy. As a result, this pleated feature across the bust serves to (kind of) create some optical volume. I prefer this straight across cut for layering, but if you have a larger bust you might find this creates a shelf effect.

I plan to wear this on its next outing tucked into a skirt, with the belt over the top (like this). I love that this is a reminder that even the trends of our childhoods can be options in adulthood - never say "never again". What piece of your fashion history do you wish you could make work nowadays?