Lately something weird has been happening. I’ve found myself searching for shirts, blouses and camisoles that … go nicely with a pair of jeans. And it’s not just me. Conversations in my group chats include links to various “nice tops” for upcoming birthdays, engagement parties and hen-do outfits. The runways at Australian Fashion Week in May were filled with hero shirts and blouses. And the grip of ’00s style shows no signs of waning on the streets.

It’s a recipe we’re all too familiar with – you might also know it as the “going out top” (apologies if that phrase conjures Midori-, Bacardi- or Smirnoff-soaked memories for you too). But peplum hems, statement necklaces and the six-inch platform heels that used to accompany these outfits can be left safely in the style vault. This new take on the trend is all about elegance. There are artfully ruched one-shoulder designs, sheer lace layers and silk pieces that you can also wear to work. The key to wearing the occasion top now is to balance the outfit with minimalist straight or wide-leg jeans (or tailored pants) and sleek accessories so as not to overwhelm.

Statement
Be it a bold sleeve or eye-catching cut-out detail, the statement top is the secret sauce to this outfit combo. New Zealand brand Paris Georgia is known for its cool-girl silhouettes – the Liquid, Sadie and Scrunchie tops are cases in point. But the Otto bodysuit deserves an honourable mention here too. Christopher Esber’s sheer printed Lucid top ups the ante. And Venroy’s sunset-hued ruched silhouette is fitting in all the right places.

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We fell in love with Maggie Marilyn’s Emma top on the runway in May – its finally in stock. The Kiwi brand also delivers styles with voluminous sleeves and cut-out detailing this season. Wynn Hamlyn’s Nancy top has subtle sculptural charm, as does Marle’s Romma off-the-shoulder style and Anna Quan’s Amanda top. Meanwhile, the Anna blouse from Dominique Healy offers day-to-night appeal.

Sheer
Think of this as the more demure sister to the naked dress trend. Layer sheer styles over bras and crop tops or add an opaque slip beneath if you prefer. Delicate designs like Maison Essentiele’s lace cami, Venroy's blue mesh style and this high neck gauze style from St Agni are effortlessly feminine. Blanca balances lace-effect fabric with a tailored silhouette, rendering the Holland shirt in black, white and navy.

More long-sleeve options include the Archer and Ria styles from Bec & Bridge, as well as Camilla and Marc’s Cove gathered top and Marle’s tie-front Lilou top. Sir’s Jacques mesh halter has a little more substance to it.

Silk
Silk instantly elevates more casual counterparts. Maison Essentiele’s button-down vest in black, this bias cut cami from Lee Mathews and the Abigail top from Friends With Frank each persuade easy styling. Marle’s Hattie top and a lustrous take on LMND’s signature button-up work for both office and after. You could also take the silk scarf-fashioned-into-a-bandeau route: see Sir, Venroy and Oroton for inspo.

This article was first published on August 24, 2023 and has since been updated.

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