With the majority of my clients working in a corporate environment, I am frequently on the hunt for professional tops that can be layered under jackets and cardigans. Over the years I have found quite a few styles that have become big hits with the women I work with.
The Best Professional Tops for Layering Under Cardigans and Jackets
Take a look at some of the most popular professional tops that my clients really love. I have no doubt they will be perfect for your wardrobe too.
The Edie blouse from T. Tahari is quite possibly the most popular professional tops with all my clients. Rare is it that a client doesn’t leave the store without at least one in her shopping bag. The perfection of the style is found in a few features. First, the blouse looks great tucked in or left untucked. Second, the neckline works beautifully with blazers and cardigans and also looks perfect on its own. I know many clients wear this sleeveless blouse casually with jeans.
Despite the many benefits, there are a few drawbacks. The blouse can be a bit sheer in ivory (you may need to layer a nude cami underneath) and the neckline doesn’t work well with round necklines.
This top seems to be a stayer style, and one that will be around for awhile. That said, you may have to check the stock at a few stores to find the colors you want in your size. Currently, Bloomingdales has full stock of black, grey and ivory, Nordstrom has full stock in black, low stock in navy and hardly anything left in ivory, and Lord & Taylor is selling a beautiful rose shade on sale. Keep in mind, this can change at any time so check back to these retailers often.
Years ago, Elie Tahari used to sell their staple, the Neely tank, in multiple colors. One of my clients still has quite a few of the fashion shades. Sadly, this doesn’t seem to be the case any longer, but their black and white styles continue to be popular options for women looking for professional tops. The nylon/elastane fabric is perfect for those who feel a cotton tank isn’t work looking enough and, despite the decent amount of stretch, the tanks don’t ride or roll up.
Quite possibly my favorite cotton tank for the price, Nic + Zoe’s cotton Perfect Tank has earned the right to have this name. It is another style that few clients pass up once they try it on. The fabric is beefy, so beefy that the white shade isn’t see-through, and the style works perfectly professionally and casually. Even better, Nic + Zoe usually sells their classic Four Way cardigan to match all the colors they sell per season.
For situations where you want to have a classic white shirt in your assortment of professional tops, you must check out BOSS Hugo Boss’ Bashina button down shirt. Calling it a button down is actually a misnomer. It doesn’t button down at all, which is why the shirt is so appealing. Instead, the placket is fake and there are two invisible zippers, one on each side seam, used to get into it. There are quite a few benefits to this. First, no bust gape. If your shirt gapes over your bust line, bid that concern farewell. Second, the side zips allow for greater shape through the bodice, which means the shirt stays tucked in and even looks good worn untucked. Additionally, if you want to create some side-slits, all you have to do is open your side zippers an inch or two.
I love this shirt but it does come with one drawback; the white can be a bit sheer. Nothing that a bra that matches your skin tone won’t fix, however.
For years, J. Crew has been running their Perfect Fit tanks and tees. While they do make fine options, J. Crew took it a step further creating their suiting t-shirt and tank. From what I can tell, the biggest difference between the suiting tees and the perfect styles is the suiting styles are cotton/elastic instead of just being cotton.
Uniqlo is known for making impressive strides with fabric technology and their Airism collection is no exception. The Airism tank and t-shirts boast a cool lightweight feel to provide comfort in even the warmest of weather, Quick-drying DRY technology along with anti-microbial/anti-odor properties. They are designed not to ride up and claim to be smooth enough to not show lines through an outer layer.
Thinking about women who either sweat easily, deal with temperature irregularity (hello, menopause!), live in warm climates or know of an upcoming situation that may rattle the nerves, tops like these can be a life saver.
In situations where more elevated professional tops are required, Lafayette 148’s Silk Charmeuse Tank can elevate an outfit by adding some subtle shine. Perfect for a desk-to-dinner look or times where a cotton or nylon tank just doesn’t feel good enough.
Keep in mind, these tanks are cut on the bias so hang them with caution. Bias cut fabrics will stretch and grow when hung too long. Instead of hanging these tanks from the straps, fold them in half longwise, and hang them through the bottom of a hanger, similar to how you get sweaters back from the dry cleaner. This will keep these tanks from stretching out and getting ruined.
You can find different colors of this tank at different retailers. Nordstrom currently has them in black and ivory, as well as a reversible navy/black color way. Saks 5th Avenue is selling a grey “rock” shade, in addition to a tan/black and light blue/ink blue reversible. Neiman Marcus has a cognac/navy reversible combo and a solid navy.
I respect any company who knows who they are and focuses on being the best at what they do. Majestic Filatures (typically known as just Majestic) stays in their own lane and focuses primarily on creating handcrafted lightweight knitwear for women. Not only do they produce their own silhouettes, they are an industrial fabric mill that creates fabric for 170 premium brands. If you have ever felt the fabric of a Majestic t-shirt you know if feels pretty darn amazing. Of course, that luxury comes at a cost.
Their 1×1 tank is $100, a far different price point compared to a tank like the Uniqlo Airism tank, and made of viscose and elastane. Viscose has a naturally yummy hand-feel and a beautiful drape. And before you balk at viscose being man made, most people don’t know that viscose is, in fact, sort of a hybrid. Viscose is cellulose derived from wood pulp (trees are 50% cellulose), usually bamboo. That’s the natural part. The man made part happens through the process of creating this cellulose into fabric through a mechanical or chemical process that reforms the cellulose into fibers. While not completely natural, don’t dismiss viscose as a completely synthetic fiber.
The Elie Tahari Judith blouse and T. Tahari Edie blouse are kissing cousins, which makes sense considering T. Tahari is the lower priced line of Elie Tahari. The difference between the Judith and the Edie is fabrication and price. The Judith is 100% silk and the Edie is polyester, and the Judith retails for about $100 more . Despite the Judith being silk, I still prefer the Edie over the Judith. I find the fit slightly better and much easier to wear and care for. However, if you prefer a higher quality and natural fabric option, the Judith is the way to go.
I hope this helps you on your hunt for professional tops. If you have you found styles that become a staple or have experience with any of the styles I listed I would love to hear your thoughts.