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.
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.
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.
Style Notes: A simple tank dress gets overhauled with flared cuffs.
Style Notes: Straps, bows, peekaboos… Each and every twist is welcome here.
Style Notes: If you can find a blouse with billowing tails, you will create a strong silhouette. Fact.
Style Notes: Another Céline number the fashion crowds couldn't resist.
Style Notes: Double ruffles and off the shoulder? Now you're spoiling us.
Style Notes: Chiara Ferragni wowed the Milan crowds in this dramatic, flesh-flashing number.
Style Notes: It's all about the 360-degree check when it comes to statement tops.
Style Notes: Tamu McPherson wearing her Johanna Ortiz style with aplomb—all you need is jeans.
The bows are just too cute.
A shirt with added swoosh.
The jumper of our dreams.
Layer over a white tee for starters.
Your new party piece.
Scarecrow chic, no?
A perfect pal to black denim.
For your inner Dolly Parton.