It’s true, you can’t really go wrong with jeans and a nice top.
Ah, the going-out top. A Y2K closet staple for party girlies thanks to its ability to elevate a regular outfit into a stellar night-out look and wordlessly communicate: I’m fun *and* fashionable.
But while the term “going out top” may still ring a bell today, there’s been a lot of debate over their relevance in recent years. “Jeans and a cute top” has been replaced in many social settings by straight-leg denim and a crop top, or leather trousers and an oversized blazer. Well, ready or not, the going out top is having a renaissance — although it may look a little different these days.
The classic Y2K going out top rose to popularity in the early 2000s in the form of cute tank tops, slinky camisoles, and cheeky crop tops. They were often silky (read: made of pure polyester but resembling satin), sometimes off the shoulder, and always looked club-ready with a pair of skintight jeans, a little purse and sky-high heels.
Photography by Getty Images
Not to be confused with a baby tee, the other early aughts shirt staple, a going out top was reserved for “fancier” soirées because of its subtly dressy qualities. Think: the early 2000s supper club or the nice bar you and your college besties went to occasionally instead of the campus dive. They were often embellished with lace or sequins, which paired perfectly with glittery eyeshadow, of course. In terms of their silhouettes, they varied from daring backless looks that just belonged on the dance floor to flowy empire-waist tanks that sat wistfully above a pair low-rise jeans.
The versatility of the look was also a catalyst for its popularity. Think of the endless combinations of “jeans and a cute top” one wardrobe could produce! The beloved outfit combo even began popping up on red carpets in lieu of dresses. That’s right — from Rihanna’s mid-2000s performance looks to a 22-year-old’s bar-hopping outfit, the trend was inescapable in the aughts.
Rihanna in 2005 (Photography by Getty Images)
In 2023, going out tops have made a comeback. Just like their 2000s counterparts, they’re beloved for their versatility and ease. You still can’t go wrong with pairing your night-out top with a pair of jeans, but in 2023, leather pants and the quintessential 2000s mini-skirt are also frequently seen alongside the staple top.
They’re also reliable because they’re easy to build a solid outfit around, which is a plus when you don’t know where your night out is headed. A 2023 going out top is suitable for most occasions, whether you’re enjoying drinks at your friend’s apartment or heading to your favourite karaoke bar.
Many of today’s popular going out tops feature early aughts elements like silk, lace and cropped hems. New styles, including asymmetrical silhouettes and strategically placed cut-outs, are having a moment with 2020s going-out tops as well. But hte main difference? Quality. 2023 going tops in genuine silk and elevated cuts are much easier to come by than the mall rat days of 2001.
Whether you’re looking to channel your inner Y2K party girl or just need a subtle closet upgrade, here’s our round-up of the best going out tops to shop in 2023.
A cheeky bra top
Gold Rush Bralette
While this piece from Free People is technically a bralette, the exposed bra trend has been having an extended moment, which earns this cutie a spot on our best going out tops round-up.
Available in forest green and gold hues, this shimmery bralette is perfect when topped with a tailored boxy blazer and will do the trick for just about any holiday party.
The backless going out top
Skye Sculpt Open Back Top
If this top had a catchphrase, it would be “business in the front, party in the back.”
This backless top from Dynamite is edgy and sexy while not showing off too much skin. With its relatively simple, T-shirt-like design, it can go with anything and comes in a variety of staple colours, making it perfect for all your night-out needs. For a Y2K-inspired outfit, pair it with low-rise jeans and a small shoulder bag.
An elevated metallic going out top
Solare Off-the-Shoulder Cutout Sequined Stretch-Tulle Top
We simply can’t discuss party looks without bringing up this season’s silver trend, and this off-the-shoulder metallic top by 16Arlington has all the best features of a cute going out top.
Covered in hundreds of tiny sequins, this cut-out shirt glistens with a liquid-like shimmer. Now all we need is a New Year’s Eve party invite.
The silky going out tank top
Emmy Silk Top
This low-cut tank by Reformation, which is made of silk, has to be one of the most sophisticated going out tops we’ve seen.
With a cinched look thanks to its nipped-in waist and a semi-backless style due to its halterneck, this top is sweet and sleek at the same time — the ideal characteristics of a quintessential going out top.
A long-sleeve going out top
Free People Basic Babe Bodysuit
Finding the perfect going out top for the winter months is a struggle that most Canadians can relate to. There are few things worse than walking into a crowded bar in your down puffer coat, but sometimes you need that extra layer if you’re only wearing an itty bitty top underneath. Rejoice: A long-sleeve going out top paired with a tailored coat is exactly what you need.
This simple bodysuit by Free People is a winter essential. Available in six colours, its sleek silhouette and low neckline make it just dressy enough for a night on the town, while its long sleeves will help protect you from freezing in the subzero temperatures when you step outside.
An asymmetrical look
Pixie Asymmetrical Top
One of the best parts about going out tops is that they really have no rules, and this asymmetrical, one-sleeved shirt proves why that’s a great thing.
With its asymmetrical hem and neckline, as well as its cold-shoulder design (which is oh-so early 2000s), this 2023 going out top will garner tons of “I love your outfit” moments in the women’s washroom — and isn’t that always the highlight of a night out?
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