(The Shopping List)

Remember Going Out Tops? Suddenly They're All I Can Think About Wearing

It's time to start dressing up again.

aemilia madden going out top

As I write this, I'm sitting at home on my sofa dressed in spandex bike shorts and an oversized sweatshirt. It's the uniform that I (and many others) have made a habit of over the last year. But, as both physically active and mentally laid-back I am, I've started to feel an insatiable need to put on a form-fitting, sexy-ish, totally unnecessary going out top. I've started answering emails in a corseted crop top or on the off chance I meet a friend for an outdoor glass of sauvignon blanc, I arrive in something low-cut. I'm not sure if it's a case of pure denial, or that I've finally arrived at the last of grief's seven stages — acceptance. If I'm going to struggle, at least I can look good doing it.

Don't take my current state of mind as an attempt to downplay the seriousness of our lived experiences these last months. In our own little isolated bubbles, we are going through it. But, I'm finding that protection and ease of mind that lazy dressing was previously afforded me has begun to backfire, instead leaving me tired and uncreative. Putting on a party top elicits the feelings that once went along with actually having something to get dressed up for. I miss social interactions, laughing, the energy of a crowded restaurant or live music venue. I miss the nerves in my stomach as I pull together a first date outfit or make a feeble attempt to do my makeup. Now, I have begun to have hope that in not so many months all of that will come back, and instead of overarching dread, I'm starting to feel a hum of excited anticipation — drawing my gaze back to those pretty occasion pieces I've avoided eye contact with.

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But, it's not just me — judging from the runways of the Fall/Winter 2021 fashion season, designers are also banking on a new roaring '20s — from New York's Carolina Herrera to Prada in Milan. Below, find a breakdown of the pretty party tops I'm making a part of my uniform.

Going Out Tops: The Cutout

Cutout details — at the hip, bust, and back — are a favorite this spring, with emerging labels like Christopher Esber, Paloma Wool, and Kim Shui leading the charge. Consider a style with a small slit for a more subdued look.

Going Out Tops: The Crop

A simple crop top is a going-out staple that pairs perfectly with the high-waisted skirts and jeans that serve as my favorite bottoms of the moment. I love the look of something with twisted details up top for a little '00s throwback.

Going Out Tops: The Corset

Bridgerton may be in part to blame for the resurging interest in corsets, but personally, I love them as a foil to the oversized cozy pieces we've been wearing all year long. Consider layering one over a floaty dress for a cool combo.

Going Out Tops: The Romantic

Ruching, sweetheart necklines, and drapey details are all key elements of the girlier side of the going-out top spectrum. These tops add an instant feeling of fancy, even when I'm sitting at home.