Think of white tops as wardrobe bling. Just like a triple strand of jumbo pearls or headlight-sized diamond studs, wearing a white blouse, shirt, sweater or tee is a fast way to get a fresh, healthy glow. You can never have too many white tops. That's why fall stores and retail sites counting on that logic have expanded the range of options for the way we live and dress now. Here are the top 11 tops to count on.
- 1 of
PHOTO BY: Topshop; Target; H&M (2)
1. The vintage-look blouse
This is the trendy piece that'll get “I love your top” comments from your daughter, the millennial next door and strangers on the street. If you want a standout blouse, choose one that's Victorian inspired with ruffles at neck, bodice, shoulders and/or wrists — like the H&M Embroidered-Detail Blouse ($50, hm.com), H&M Flounce-Trimmed Blouse in White ($25, hm.com), Topshop White Victoriana Puff Sleeve Top ($58, us.topshop.com) or A New Day Women's Long Sleeve Smocked Blouse ($25, target.com). Keep the effect contemporary and not costumey by wearing it with jeans or a leather skirt.
- 2 of
PHOTO BY: Zara; Mango; Madewell
2. The button-down shirt
Remember when Sharon Stone wore a white Gap shirt to the Academy Awards in 1998? The classic button-down has been a favorite of movie stars from Katherine Hepburn to Marilyn Monroe for good reasons. It's chic and sharp, never goes out of style, works year-round with everything we own. Today's updates do all that and more. Generously cut (but not baggy or shapeless) styles — like the Madewell Drapey Oversized Boyshirt in Pure White ($72, madewell.com), Zara Flowy Blouse with Pockets In Oyster White ($50, zara.com/us), Violeta by Mango Plus-Size Oxford Shirt in White ($50, shop.mango.com) or Mango Flowy Shirt in Off-White ($40, shop.mango.com) — have the relaxed body-friendly look we've come to prefer. Just turn or roll the cuffs back and open up the neck to a V, and it's all modern glamour.
- 3 of
PHOTO BY: Zara; Banana Republic; Eloquii
3. The wrap
This one's an instant body shaper. If you prefer untucked tops but want definition, a V-neck crossover-style blouse makes that easy. Fluid curve-skimming styles — like the Zara Wrap Front Blouse in White ($46, zara.com/us), Eloquii Peplum Wrap Top in White ($70, eloquii.com) or Banana Republic Threadsoft Wrap Top in White ($50, bananarepublic.gap.com) — gently highlight an existing waist or strengthen a waist that's fading, while the V necklines give your neck and torso a longer, sleeker line. Remember: Wrap tops work best over flat-front pants and skirts or leggings for a bulge-free finish.
- 4 of
PHOTO BY: Banana Republic; Old Navy; Anthropologie
4. The feminine blouse
Flowy blouses with billowy sleeves are the update to pussy-bow styles. If you like classics with a twist, the elegant fabrics and not-too-loose, not-too-tight fit will elevate everything from casual cargos to midis and, of course, all your basic black pants. Look for delicately textured fabrics — like the Anthropologie The Tavi Buttondown in Ivory ($98, anthropologie.com) or Old Navy Oversized Textured Clip-Dot Button-Down Blouse for Women in Calla Lily White ($35, oldnavy.gap.com) — or silky machine-washable satin such as the Banana Republic Soft Satin Puff-Sleeve Top in White ($80, bananarepublic.gap.com).
- 5 of
PHOTO BY: ASOS; Express; ModCloth
5. The statement sleeve top
Don't hide this one under a jacket because it's all about your arms. If a Victorian blouse is too trendy yet you want to look “new,” nothing does it like really big or sheer sleeves. From voluminous sleeves — like the Modcloth Beyond Basic Long Sleeve Top in White ($39, modcloth.com), Zara Jewel Button Cotton Shirt in White ($40, zara.com/us) or Asos Design Curve Long Volume Sleeve Shirt in Cotton in White ($35, asos.com/us) — to fancy, sheer sleeves — like the River Island Organza Sleeve Shirred Blouse in White ($63, asos.com/us) or Express Lace Ruffle Front V-Neck Top in White 1 ($60, express.com), these white blouses camouflage jiggly underarms with a flourish.
- 6 of
PHOTO BY: Ann Taylor; LOFT; Express
6. The knit top
With more substance than a tee and less bulk than a real sweater, white knit tops with a stretchy fit are good partners for voluminous skirts and wide-leg pants. If you like wearing tops tucked in (or semitucked at the front) or vary your jeans rise from medium to high, these are a new choice. Try elbow-sleeved versions — like the Ann Taylor Boatneck Perfect Pullover in Winter White ($70, anntaylor.com) or Loft Elbow Sleeve Sweater Tee in Whisper White ($50, loft.com) — or long sleeve styles such as the Banana Republic Square-Neck Puff-Sleeve Sweater Top in White ($99, bananarepublic.gap.com) or Express Ruched Sleeve Crew Neck Sweater in Ivory 3 ($60, express.com). Pair any white top with a white bottom for a tonal look, though vary the shades and textures for a stylish effect that doesn't scream “uniform.”
- 7 of
PHOTO BY: Target; Eloquii; ASOS
7. The peplum
If you've got a belly or just want some subtle shaping at the waist and hips, try a chic white fit-and-flare blouse. These range from scuba-fabric styles with a molded fit such as the Eloquii Rosette Ruffle Peplum Top in White ($60, eloquii.com) to blousier styles with shirred waists — like the Prologue Women's Bishop Long Sleeve Shirred Waist Top ($28, target.com) or Topshop at Asos Shirred Embroidered Blouse in White ($54, asos.com/us). Wear them over a slim-fitted bottom like a pull-on tube skirt, leggings or narrow pants to keep the proportions right and the look smooth. Peplums — unlike their “sister style” the wrap blouse — don't necessarily feature a V neck, though all create a defined waist and are a timeless choice.
- 8 of
PHOTO BY: J. Crew; Mango
8. The T-shirt
We all need basic white tops in short- and long-sleeved versions. Crew necks — like the Gap Feather T-Shirt in Fresh White ($25, gap.com) or J. Crew Vintage Cotton Crewneck Long-Sleeve T-Shirt in White ($35, jcrew.com) — are substantial enough to work solo (with no bra see-through) or under sweaters and jackets. The higher neckline makes wearing scarves and layering easy. V-neck tees — like the Old Navy Luxe V-Neck Long Sleeve Tee for Women in Calla Lily White ($20, oldnavy.gap.com), Violeta by Mango Committed Organic Cotton T-Shirt in White ($20, shop.mango.com) or Uniqlo Women Supima Cotton V-Neck Short-Sleeve T-Shirt in 00 White ($15, uniqlo.com/us) — offer neck-lengthening benefits and have a cooler, edgy look.
- 9 of
PHOTO BY: Lands' End; Banana Republic; LOFT
9. The tunic
This elongated white shirt is the ultimate topper for leggings, jeans or yoga pants when you want to look pulled together but benefit from plenty of coverage. Those with rounded shirttail hems — like Lands’ End Women's Cotton A-Line Long Sleeve Tunic Top in White ($60, landsend.com) or Lou & Grey Fluid Twill Pocket Tunic Shirt in White ($70, loft.com) — have a more casual look, while a high-low hem such as the Banana Republic Poplin Tunic in White ($80, bananarepublic.gap.com) has a fashion-forward polish that could work for an evening out. They make perfect blank canvases for jewelry, from stacks of bangles and hoops to long pendants and layered necklaces.
- 10 of
PHOTO BY: Ann Taylor; White House Black Market; Banana Republic
10. The sleeveless blouse
While a sleeveless white top might not be a first choice for most women age 50-plus, those with a body-positive approach to their arms who live in a steamy climate or prefer the neat fit under blazers, cardigans, denim and leather jackets love them. Don't get sidetracked by tiny flutter sleeves or armhole ruffles. Look for those tops with major details front and center. Try draped, sophisticated styles such as the Banana Republic Wrap-Effect Top in Cream ($40, bananarepublic.gap.com) or Asos Design Sleeveless Drape Neck Top in Ivory-White ($32, asos.com/us); V necks with feminine details including scallops or ruffles, like the Ann Taylor Mixed Media Tie-Neck Shell in Winter White ($50, anntaylor.com) or Banana Republic Satin Tie-Neck Top in White ($70, bananarepublic.gap.com); or tiers such as the White House Black Market Bow-Neck Pleated Blouse in Ecru ($110, whitehouseblackmarket.com).
- 11 of
PHOTO BY: Ann Taylor; Uniqlo; Express; Everlane
11. The sweater
Let's face it, if you're courageous enough to wear a white sweater in winter, you should. Putting aside splashes of red wine and hot chocolate for a minute, know that a snowy white sweater simply looks luxurious. Choose a classic cashmere — like the Everlane The Cashmere V-Neck in Ivory ($100, everlane.com) or Uniqlo Women Cashmere Crew Neck Sweater in 01 Off White ($90, uniqlo.com/us) — or a slouchy style such as the BB Dakota for Express Long Sleeve Oversized Pullover Knit Sweater in Ivory 3040 ($79, express.com), Ann Taylor Easy V-Neck Sweater in Winter White ($75, anntaylor.com) or the Loft Textured Drop Shoulder Sweater in Whisper White ($60, loft.com). Add leather leggings or joggers, and you have an ideal mix of comfort and style without looking overdone.
Free online games and puzzles including classic Atari gameslearn moreSee more Entertainment offers >
Members save 30% on a 1-year subscriptionlearn moreSee more Entertainment offers >
AARP members can save on Audible membershipslearn moreSee more Entertainment offers >
TV for Grownups
TV show reviews, news and celebrity interviewslearn moreSee more Entertainment offers >