Over the weekend I caught a 15-minute video by Trinny Woodall on tops from her closet. Remember Trinny and Susannah, the UK-based team that hosted the show What Not to Wear and had a book out by the same title? Loved them!
So why have I brought her up? I like her style, energy, and credentials. She’s easy to trust. This video she posted on Instagram called Closet Confession: Tops (oh, wait, I think I’ve managed to get that link!) was entertaining and informative. You might want to check it out!
Making great points about altering tops
She’s being interviewed by the savvy, to-the-point Lucy while standing in front of a section of a closet with tops. Lucy asks her how many tops she has. Trinny says, “You mean in this closet or everywhere?” She estimates she has 150 shirts/tops in this one section, but there are more upstairs. She confesses to having a total of 16 closets.
She makes great points about altering tops, something we don’t all think about. Earlier this year I was shopping the men’s department of Saks Off Fifth, their outlet store near Petaluma where I take my car in for service. (Convenient, huh?!) I LOVE men’s shirts as does Trinny; she buys her men’s shirts at Zara and COS.
I bought this blue Michael Kors shirt knowing full well that I’d have to alter it. This is the first camouflage print I’ve fallen in love with. I wasn’t going to walk away because it needed alterations.
I took it to Alterations to Go in Greenbrae and had it shortened and the edge curved.
If I did this over, I’d have had the alterations person cut a deeper curve on the hem and create slits in the sides. See where there are none now? Trinny creates slits up the side seams on her tops and shirts so she can more easily tuck the front part into a pant or skirt and leave the back part hanging out. It’s great styling.
As it is I wear my camo shirt as a jacket. Here I wore it with a sweater underneath because it was springtime and chilly. Now I wear it with rolled-up jeans, sandals, and a white tee.
When your top tears
Trinny talked about another top in her closet that required serious alterations help. It was a designer top–Chloe or Stella McCartney, I believe–that she paid a pretty penny for. She realized too late that she should have bought it in the next size up. How did she learn that? After it ripped under the armhole. Mortified, she tracked down the designer top and bought it in the next size. If I had Trinny’s clothing budget, that’s the first thing I’d have done, too.
But she decided to take this first, torn one to her alterations person anyway who reinforced the area that was torn. She wears the repaired one but is happy to have a backup because she loves it so much.
A similar thing happened to me. I paid more money than I’d ever paid before for a Prada jacket that I purchased in New York while shopping with colleagues at one of my Association of Image Consultants International conferences. It was a bigger size than I’d purchase now because I was a bigger girl back then. It was fifteen years ago, for sure.
I lost a sizable amount of weight (over 20 pounds) in 2006 when I joined Weight Watchers with a friend.
I was swimming in this jacket but really didn’t want to let it go. I took my Prada jacket to an alterations person to have it sized about three sizes down. Success! The fit was perfect for my slimmer shape.
But then the unthinkable happened. One day I was taking it off and noticed that it was shredded under one of the armholes. OMG. I could’ve cried. Maybe I did.
I took it back to the alterations guy and he said, “I can fix this.” I wasn’t so sure. But he did! He did the same thing Trinny’s alterations person did to the underarm of her expensive top. See that zig-zag stitching? I was shocked at how difficult it was to see where it had been repaired. It helped that there was so much design going in the fabric.
I searched for a picture of me wearing that jacket and found this one when Baby Vivienne was only a week old. A good alterations person really can do wonders!
It’s important to have a good looking top to wear under jackets
Trinny also talks about one of her most used tops. It’s by Zara, is sleeveless, and is one she wears in the summer all the time under summer weight jackets. I have total lust for it and it reminded me that I have to earnestly look for a top for this purpose.
What I currently have in this department is a buff-colored silk top that’s gotten a ton of wear. But right now it’s getting on my last nerve.
The thing that makes me crazy is the tiny buttons. When I bought it I struggled only a little to get them buttoned. Now I struggle A LOT. It’s something I’ve learned about myself as I’ve gotten older: I can’t manage tiny clasps on necklaces, tiny buttons, and even side zippers on pants give me trouble.
I have more patience in the morning when I put this on, but when I take it off at night, I have zero patience. One of these days I will just cut my way out of it and call it done. It already has a stain on the front that won’t come out. I use it as a layering piece but mostly covered up like in this outfit with my Fortuny-like blush pleated skirt.
Another top takeaway: have some fancy ones
Trinny says to look for tops with drama. Maybe the sleeves are ruffled or the neck is interesting, just fancy in some way. Although this navy blue top doesn’t have show-stopping drama, it’s the amount of drama I like. The fabric has body like silk taffeta. It’s a Japanese designer and I like the artfulness. When you’re up close (cocktails anyone?) you can see the interesting way they’ve manipulated the fabric. It’s really quite fascinating.
I’m interested in having more tops like this in my wardrobe. I think of them as standalone tops. They don’t need a jacket to finish it; the silk tassel necklace and bangle are just enough.
Wrapping this top episode up
From watching Trinny’s video on tops, I feel happy to realize I’m doing some of the things she talked about: buying shirts from the men’s department, altering tops, having workhorse tops to go under jackets, and selecting tops with drama. She’s inspired me to take my tops up a notch.
I must confess: I did have some top envy. She shops lots of big designers as well as low-end stores like Zara.
So what’s your top situation? Do you love them and own a variety of them? What are your shopping sources? Do you have trouble with tops? Let’s talk!