As Far as "It Buys" Go, Nothing Is More Important Than a Statement Top

If there's one thing we've all endlessly shopped for, lusted after and talked about both inside the Who What Wear confines and within the greater fashion industry throughout 2016 thus far, it's the statement top. Yes, we've been keen on the other major trend movements of the year (step-hem jeans, sock boots, slip dresses, for example), but imagine your wardrobe only a few months back and it probably looked very different in the top-half department.

Photo: Vanessa Jackman

Céline's bell-sleeve must-have

For so long our outfits bobbed along with grey marl tees, white shirts and navy sweaters, allowing statement skirts, killer denim and trophy jackets to take centre stage. Traditional It status has forever been focused on accessories—bags and shoes to be precise—and tops were, for us and retailers, a bit of a no man's land where functionality (and not being topless) was the main goal.

Photo: Harper and Harley

Sara Donaldson, of Harper and Harley, wearing her Tibi tunic

There has been a shift: It arguably started with the rise of off-the-shoulder silhouettes. Tibi's cotton tunic was the first frenzied must-have, being stamped constantly with sold-out signs online and featuring in high-profile spots on style bloggers' feeds. Celine's bell-sleeve sweater became just as covetable as any of the brand's other, highly sought-after goods.

Then came Gucci's elaborate pussy-bow blouses, Rosie Assoulin's A-list-adored ruffles, Ellery's extreme sleeves, Johanna Ortiz's warped shirting… and on and on it went. These pieces became a priority purchase and now we're seeing all manner of adventurous button-downs, blouses, tees, knits, bandeaus, tabards and tunics arrive into stores and take up our budgets. BrownsFashion.com's buying director, Laura Larbalestier agrees, telling us "Tops have definitely overtaken dresses as the key piece in the last few seasons as it really is more about separates now… This is the fashion investment of the season."

And the action isn't restricted to designer price-tags alone—H&M have seen a crazy surge for their fluted-sleeve knits and we've been buying these affordable Korean wrap shirts in bulk.

Go through the gallery to see some of our favourite statement top–oriented street style looks, then keep going to shop the best in the marketplace.