As a digital editor, I basically shop online for a living. This means that I can sift through literally thousands of products and edit them down to what's really worth buying. I take pride in my ability to quickly evaluate one piece from the next, but still, nothing will ever top a good old fashioned trip to the mall to try on everything IRL. With that in mind, I set out on a recent shopping trip where I made it my mission to find the very best statement tops.
You know the kind of tops I'm talking about—throw them on with jeans and suddenly you have yourself an outfit. In other words, they do all the sartorial work for you. And with holiday party season coming up, my closet could definitely use a few more of these standout tops.
I went out to H&M, Reformation, and Nordstrom in search of The One—well, ones—and after hauling armfuls of options into my dressing rooms and snapping the pics to prove it, I landed on 14 statement tops that were so good I'd buy them ASAP.
Scroll down to see the dressing room shots of the best tops I tried on, read about what makes each one special, and then shop your favorite one (or two or three) from my edit.
First off, this turtleneck comes in two trendy prints (see the zebra version below), is super soft and stretchy, and only puts you out $10, so it has a lot going for it.
Once I put this on I did not want to take it off. The billowy sleeves, silky material, and lovely high collar made me feel regal. I'm telling you if I'd seen this out of context, I'd assume it cost upward of $300—but nope, a mere $50 is all you need. (Don't be deterred by how sheer it looks here, I made the mistake of wearing a brightly-colored bra when I tried it on, so I"m confident that anything nude won't show from underneath.)
Was this selfie aimed at showing off the collar and cuffs or was it a thinly veiled excuse to further document my love affair with the top? Either way, details FTW.
Here's a very similar style but in snakeskin print. The collar is a bit less intense on this one, but the buttons are just as unique.
I went up two sizes in this top to create the oversize look I was going for. I left the bottom buttons undone to mirror a styling trick I've seen on all the insiders. I liked that the material was light and swishy—it seemed like the kind of breathable shirt that's perfect to wear to the office and then to drinks after work.
Also wearing H&M Faux Leather Pants ($35) here.
Right as the store associate let me into the dressing room she told me that this top was her all-time favorite, so that may have set me up for success with this one. As soon as I put it on, I could tell why. The smocking is very forgiving, the silk photographs impeccably well, and the delicate silk tie straps are a pure delight.
This top is a stunner. The sleeves are just puffy enough to give it a cool silhouette but not too voluminous to where they look costume-y (something that often deters me from a puff-sleeve piece), and the neckline is just beautiful. I also tried it on in velvet but found the underwire to be too clunky. The satin, on the other hand, is definitely the way to go.
I guess I was gravitating toward all the silk pieces at Ref without even knowing it. I liked the abstract spot print on this one and the thicker tie straps.
I'm here to remind you not to overlook a good wrap top. This silky number is especially versatile and the kind of top you'll have in your wardrobe for years to come. Above, I tied it looser and to one side, but it's just one of the many different ways you can wear it.
Clearly I'm in the mood for a silk top as this was one of several I brought into the dressing room to try. The high neck and striped jacquard print really spoke to me. I feel like this is the kind of top I'd wear on a date and then again to meet the parents—it oddly covers a lot of bases.
There's no neckline that lies better than a cowl neck if you ask me, and this little tank is proof. Its perfectly drapey neckline is the main selling point, but the subtle leopard print really drives it home.
The '80s are calling—and I'm picking up. This wrap top deserves to be worn for a night of dancing to Pat Benetar (or insert '80s pop artist here). It's got a lot going for it: jewel tones, snake print, and puff sleeves. Not to be missed is the crystal buckle that's sure to earn a compliment or two.
I knew about this top before I tried it on since it's been a best seller on Who What Wear lately. It comes in a ton of trendy prints from tie-dye to leopard, but for some reason, the camo version was calling my name. I typically steer clear of the print, but this version is more low-key and I could easily see myself layering it underneath neutral sweaters and dresses for an interesting pop of print.