Shopping my closet: a small tweak makes this favorite top work…

Susan B. wears a tiger print top, boyfriend jeans, gold layered French Kande necklaces and leopard print slides.

I’ve been hitting the wall lately with my current summer wardrobe. (And it’s only the beginning of July!) So earlier this week I took a spin around the mall (yes, in-person shopping!) to see what was new.

It was disappointing to say the least. So. Much. Meh. Everything seemed to fall into one or more of these categories: bland, oversized, athleisure, tie-dye, drowning in ruffles and flounces, cottagecore, generic florals, and did I mention ruffles? (I should note that a few of the brands I often shop online have closed their physical stores in our area. So I wasn’t able to examine some styles I’ve had my eye on.)

A favorite tiger print top

earrings | top (similar) | necklace | necklace | bracelet | jeans (similar) | sandals (similar)

Yesterday, I couldn’t bring myself to put on another t-shirt, so I grabbed this tiger print top which I’ve had for a couple of years. (Originally purchased from The Bias Cut.) It’s a very lightweight top and I LOVE the print. The background is navy and the colors are in my Spring palette. It’s survived a few closet purges, but I’ve always struggled with the neckline, which is a pussybow/tie. Not really my thing.

After fiddling with it for a while, I finally let it fall open, and tied the ends in a double knot just below the bottom of the neckline. Then, I tucked them inside. It works in a pinch. I’ve already has this top altered once to shorten it, and I think it’s worth checking whether it can be altered to remove the tie and make the neckline a shallow v. I’ll let you know how it goes.

Detail: Susan B. wears layered gold French Kande necklaces and a tiger print top.

I had lunch with my friend Kande (the designer of French Kande jewelry) earlier this week. She was wearing three layered FK Petite necklaces, and I loved the look. So I was inspired to try something similar with two of mine. earrings | necklace | necklace (I think my stack needs a 3rd necklace, and have just the one in mind… 😉)

If you’re also needing a break from your t-shirts, here are some lightweight print tops:

July 4th sales

Eileen Fisher – end of season sale, extra 40% off sale items

Amour Vert – Très Chic Event, 50% off select items

J.Crewextra 50% off sale items with code BESTSALE

Talbot’s40% off entire purchase

Boden – summer sale, up to 50% off

Tory Burchextra 25% off sale with code EXTRA

Chico’s – 4th of July sale, styles starting at $25

Ann Taylor30-50% off purchase with code TOGETHER

Vinceextra 30% off sale with code SUMMER30

Biossance30% off select items (for everything else, use my code UNEFEMME20 for 20% off…)

Brian + MW20% off tinted primer (today only)

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51 Comments

  1. Robyn
    July 2, 2021 / 2:47 am

    I’m with you about the ruffles. The assistant principal at my school was looking for a dress for her son’s graduation. She said everything looked like Little House on the Prairie or Sister Wives. Yesterday, after sending back four packages my online shopping my be halting for a while, except for replacing worn out items. I do plan in a week or so to go in store, we’ll see. I’ve lived in black or white tees, blouses or shirts, white jeans, a pair of linen trousers and a black wrap dress. Between the earthy colors, neon colors, childlike prints, odd shapes of clothes, boxy, dropped shoulders, too short, too long , whew, the list goes on. At one time I had to limit my buying, now I’m just attempting to just replace items. Which is like finding a needle in a haystack. I wouldn’t buy a thing if it were given to me. Clothes offered to women our age has been lax for a while- either childlike or ready for the walker, but it is the worst ever. I’ve always wanted to find a uniform and involuntarily I have. My rant is over. Thank goodness!

    • Julie
      July 2, 2021 / 6:33 am

      Well said Robyn. Couldnt agree more. You have me looking for linen pants….any reccomendations?

      • Jill Ann
        July 3, 2021 / 8:09 am

        I went shopping with a friend on Thursday, and she bought two pairs of drawstring waist, full length linen pants from Talbots (chambray and flax color). She’s very pleased with them, especially at 40% off!

    • Kim
      July 2, 2021 / 10:50 am

      I agree with all you said!

    • Kathy
      July 2, 2021 / 12:28 pm

      You are so on about Little House on the Prairie looks. WHY are they pushing this look!!! My closet looks so much better than what I see out there.

  2. Lisa
    July 2, 2021 / 3:37 am

    I’ve been frustrated with shopping as well. I just saw this yesterday regarding alterations to tops: https://www.artinthefind.com/blog/alterations. I’ve had some tops shortened, but it’s got me thinking about possibilities with some others. A neckline change may be very doable.

  3. July 2, 2021 / 4:48 am

    You echoed my last trip to our local mall. What stores were still open had limited inventory.
    I prefer basic, classic pieces that I can accessorize to my liking. Maybe, the same technique I use for decorating my home. A simple, neutral canvas that can easily be personalized with more colorful treasures. Then, I can simply switch pieces out to create an entirely new look. Sometimes my mood is mellow, other times quirky. Each of us tell of a different life story. Celebrate who we are today!

    • Anne
      July 2, 2021 / 1:38 pm

      Me, too, Jan. I want good quality pieces that I can accessories myself! Good luck- nowhere to be found!

  4. Robyn
    July 2, 2021 / 4:55 am

    So, in defense of my rant. I was catching up with an old friend and we were discussing how our parents did/do dress. She commented that my parents had always looked so elegant and sophisticated, and they did. This was done on a very tight budget. My mom, and style icon carried her “Color Me Beautiful” swatches every where. She wore color liberally and patterns sparingly. The difference is…the styles were classic, the prints elegant, interesting, “good looking or smart” as she liked to say. One blouse I remember, was winter green with tiny black polka dots, the blouse had a band collar trimmed in black, black placket and cuffs. While it was polka dot it was far from cutesy. The style of the blouse was neither too long, short, boxy or oversized. It may be because back then most stores offered alterations. My mom was not girlie, she was simple, sophisticated but always looked interesting. This is the style I long to have again. Grownup style, not old lady, but not childlike either. This used to be easy to find. I’m not adverse to pattern or color it’s the choices and styles of those that are limiting.

  5. Treva
    July 2, 2021 / 5:00 am

    I agree with you that everything has ruffles—sleeves and front of blouses or jackets. I am looking for a dress and if I like the print, I won’t buy the dress because of the flounce or flounces. Both ruffles and flounces are this year’s fad, but I don’t think it will last. Fashion should be sustainable. If we buy clothes, we should be able to wear it for years, mixing and matching with other pieces we already have in our wardrobes.

  6. Diane B
    July 2, 2021 / 5:20 am

    I do like a feminine style, but when you mention that, out come the ruffles and frills. That is not what I want. Just a soft drape or small detail, not masculine or harsh. There is just so much that I would not even try on and as mentioned, the returns are just so frustrating. I do hope things get back on track and this is just a blip in the fashion world for now. As for the tie neckline, I have never felt comfortable in that, and alterations are usually necessary. If I like an outfit and a tweek here and there is needed, I can work with that. It used to be that in the mall there were the ‘young’ stores and then the more classic or grown up stores, so where is our choice now???

  7. Ainsivalavie
    July 2, 2021 / 5:41 am

    On another note, today I am finding this blog incredibly difficult to read. The font is very small and light. I am reading on my iPad and have to move the text back and forth after I enlarge the screen and that’s on landscape mode. Another blog I follow (Classic Casual Home, Mary Ann Pickett)said that she had many of her readers request a larger font when she was updating her blog and was able to comply with her reader’s wishes. Sorry, but reading a blog should be a pleasure not a slog.

    • Susan Blakey
      Author
      July 2, 2021 / 5:47 am

      Hi, I’m not sure why that would be. I haven’t made any changes to the post fonts, but I’ll look into it and see what I can do.

    • Jeanette
      July 2, 2021 / 9:40 am

      Sadly I agree! The site update resulted in a smaller, fainter font and wider margins. I read the blog on my iPad. I turned it sideways/landscape hoping for an improved experience, but that made it worse.

      • Susan Blakey
        Author
        July 2, 2021 / 9:49 am

        Hi, the design team is still working on the tablet formatting. The size of the font and formatting in the blog posts themselves should not have changed (I’ve viewed on le Monsieur’s tablet to confirm). Can I ask what browser you’re using?

        • Jeanette
          July 3, 2021 / 5:59 am

          Safari.

          • Susan Blakey
            Author
            July 3, 2021 / 12:58 pm

            Thanks. I’m not seeing the same issues on Safari on our tablet, but will ask the designers.

  8. Julie
    July 2, 2021 / 6:25 am

    Can I say I just love you in Navy….this top is great. I actually always thought black and dark teal looked so sophisticated on you despite the color analysis.
    I have several in that style and the ties so get tucked in…….they dangle and hit my little dog when I pick her up. However I deal with it because its such a nice look.

  9. SuD
    July 2, 2021 / 6:35 am

    I’m with you on the disdain of “fluff” on my clothes especially around the neckline. I have a pussy bow blouse in the goodwill pile. It just doesn’t fit with my style. I’m looking forward to seeing if you’re successful with alterations.

  10. Valla
    July 2, 2021 / 6:42 am

    One thought- try just putting the ties inside of the top, allowing them to hang down. That way they might create a simple v-neck.

  11. July 2, 2021 / 6:57 am

    I like this blouse on you. I have the green tropical print blouse from Boden that you showed above. It is very light weight without being see-thru-sheer, good for hot days when you don’t want to go bare.

  12. Tricia
    July 2, 2021 / 7:54 am

    I love that blouse on you! You don’t have to necessarily tuck the ties inside.
    I have something kind of similar, I knot each tie and let them hang down on the outside, it’s not a bad look.
    You mentioned linen pants…try Old Navy.

    • RoseAg
      July 2, 2021 / 8:50 am

      Given that you’ve already had the blouse altered once, had it hanging in your closet unworn for awhile … I would just leave the ties on the outside.
      Multiple alterations in hopes of improving the wearablity of something, even if you love the fabric, is not usually a good omen.

  13. Rose-Marie Patev
    July 2, 2021 / 8:50 am

    One more fad that just isn’t for me – puffed shoulders! And I am not broad-shouldered! I just don’t like to wear anything that adds an illusions of ‘extra pounds’. I’m looking for lean, simple, elegant, and kind of ‘urban chic’. That is getting hard to find these days!

  14. Lyn
    July 2, 2021 / 8:57 am

    It would be simple for any seamstress to remove the ties. I can sew, and I alter a lot of my clothes when there is a detail I don’t like. (I’ve even taken the hoods off hoodies.) The name “pussybow” alone would be enough to send me scrambling for my scissors and sewing machine.

  15. Chris Reynaud
    July 2, 2021 / 9:31 am

    Love that print!
    Here’s an idea… I’m not great with the ties either, but if you weight them a little with a charm from a bracelet or bead of some sort, it’s easier to just let them hang and your v-neck is there.

  16. Anon
    July 2, 2021 / 9:32 am

    Spoken aloud to myself in a dressing room, “I look like a sister wife.” Those skirts might have worked when I was a mere slip of a girl, but even then I favored plain skirts, no flounces. I do like some boho blouses.

  17. Nancy
    July 2, 2021 / 10:05 am

    I like the bow or tie look, but when I try it on I feel silly, it’s just not for me!
    As for the readers having trouble with the font, you might try adjusting the contrast on your screen, just a thought.

  18. Nancy
    July 2, 2021 / 10:21 am

    I find that tucking the ties into my bra and maybe a little fashion tape to keep the “v” open and where I want it without having to fiddle with it all day long, usually does the trick!

  19. Teri
    July 2, 2021 / 10:35 am

    Great post! Sometimes one does need to get out of the t-shirt rut. I think I’ll start today! Thanks for the inspiration. And I’m with you on the ruffles. “So. Much. Meh.” lol! By the way, Old Navy has some nice shallow v-neck blouses similar to the Nordstrom one pictured without the tie, although ON is out of them now online. They have a small ruffle at the neck, but it’s hardly noticeable. And they’re light and breezy. I have two of them in pretty prints and they’re budget-friendly.

    • Lagatta de Montréal
      July 2, 2021 / 4:54 pm

      I regret the few purchases I ever made at Old Navy. Cheap tat, nasty fabrics. You live in an even larger city than I do, aren’t there any places to shop there other than McMall?

  20. Jeanne
    July 2, 2021 / 11:14 am

    I love your blouse. FYI-some of the links don’t work –at least not for me.

    • Susan Blakey
      Author
      July 2, 2021 / 11:19 am

      Thanks! All of the links seem to be working for me. Can you tell me which ones(s) are not working for you and what happens when you click on them?

  21. Kathy
    July 2, 2021 / 12:35 pm

    I sure agree with you about ruffles! I love the tiger print blouse. I think that bow can easily be fixed. Assuming the bow was part of the neckline fabric. Here is how I would do it. Cut off allowing 1/2 ” extra fabric to tuck back inside to line up with the neckline edge. Press. Then do a fine running stitch to close the opening. If the bow was added onto the neckline separately, pick out the stitches to detach it and close up the opening. The blouse is very cute without it.

  22. Peggy
    July 2, 2021 / 12:52 pm

    Alterations is your best friend. They work magic. What makes clothes look good is when they fit.

  23. sf-dre
    July 2, 2021 / 5:52 pm

    Cute blouse and necklaces. I’m with everyone else on the meh-ness, though I don’t mind a little tie-dye (it’s San Francisco, after all).

    I have a cashmere sweater with one large ruffle on the neckline, bought about 10 years ago and still in decent shape. It’s survived dresser and closet purges because, cashmere. I wonder if it could be altered to remove the ruffle.

  24. July 2, 2021 / 6:50 pm

    Oh how I love that tiger blouse on you!! So cute. I’ve got blouses with those hanging down tassel doo-hickeys. On the tiger blouse, I’d probably just have that piece of fabric removed, since it seems like it doesn’t affect the structure of the neckline. If I’m wrong, just ignore. 😉 You know, when it comes to times when you cannot find anything you like in stores (and these times come and go) it makes the wardrobe you have so much more valuable, and it makes having a wardrobe of simple classics even more valuable, since you’ll be able to wear them until something you like comes around again. I can think of at least 5 times in my lifetime when going into stores has been pointless but relying on simple, ‘classic’ shapes and fabrics has been the way to go. I have relied on Talbots, JJill (not for big baggy square looks though) and other ’boutique’ type online stores, keeping my choices to things that all go together (minimal colors and similar profiles). I wore ruffles briefly during the 80s and found the look not me, and really have never done that again. I personally prefer a simple silk button-up with a nice pair of pants and some form of third layer (jacket or coat) and scarves or some kind of jewelry or both if I’m really getting dressed up here in the ‘great’ Northwest. We don’t really dress here, more’s the pity.

  25. Sherry Browne
    July 2, 2021 / 8:01 pm

    Love that shirt and the print! Shouldn’t cost that much to convert it to a V-neck – it would relieve you of the bother with the ties. You are such a wonderful role model for us all. We all struggle with this and that…….you too and that makes you so relatable. How would that shirt work with your khaki or caramel colored pants? Just curious. I look forward to your posts.

  26. Carol
    July 2, 2021 / 9:02 pm

    I am in the minority. Earlier this year, I bought a cute dress from Anthropologie. It is a lovely small print, has a barely noticeable ruffle around the open neck ending in a V, cap sleeves, and two flounces that go around the body of the dress. I am 5’2, 128lbs, and it hits me at the top of my knee. At first, I was apprehensive about wearing it because I am 63 yoa, but I took photos and it made the “cut.” I wore it this past Sunday with a pair of cute wedge sandals and I received two compliments on the dress. Accordingly, I will not rule out ruffles and flounces, but a little goes a long way.

    • Susan Blakey
      Author
      July 4, 2021 / 6:52 am

      Hi Carol, I should clarify that I’m not anti-ruffle (or tier). 😉 They can look fabulous on women with a Romantic or Bohemian style personality. My gripe is that they are ubiquitous…it’s hard to find a top or dress without them.

      • Lagatta de Montréal
        July 4, 2021 / 8:07 am

        I’m very much Boho, but not of the ruffly type. Black or striped t-shirts or pullovers… Black denim…

      • Carol
        July 4, 2021 / 10:45 am

        Hi Susan, You’re right, ruffles and tiers are dominating for now. Actually, my dress has two tiers vice two flounces. Staying on the subject of dresses, I have not seen much in the way of the sheath look nor fit and flare styles of late. Knowing that you’re not really a dress gal, you seem to be having the same problem with tops and I suppose for now it’s a waiting game. The ruffle/tier/flounce/fabric overload look will surely pass.

  27. Lisa
    July 3, 2021 / 7:39 am

    Loved today’s post! I thought I was the only one. The styles this summer will certainly save money for me. I had resigned myself to feeling like I’m just not a “summer clothing” person. It’s good to know others are feeling the same about this year’s styles.

  28. Jill Ann
    July 3, 2021 / 8:32 am

    Agree with the prevailing sentiment, here! I went shopping (in person!) earlier this week, and couldn’t believe all the ruffles! I’ve never been a ruffle fan and like them even less now that I’m older. There were also numerous smocked off the shoulder styles, sort of hippie/peasant style, which I would’ve worn when in my twenties, but definitely not now! The other common style was “shapeless and boxy”. That was mostly everything at Nordstrom, except one beautiful Vince silk v neck blouse, but that was obviously not a summer style. Talbots had a couple of decent options, but so many of their prints look cheap nowadays. Gingham checks and stripes were better, and there was one pair of palm leaf print shorts in leafy green that I quite liked. Tommy Bahama consistently has cute linen tops and shorts, and cool summer dresses; their styles don’t change much from season to season, which is kind of good, I think. The best thing I saw was way out of my price range, but beautiful, elegantly detailed, grown up but not frumpy, and in an unusual but lovely print: the Nia Midi Dress by Lafayette 148. I can picture myself wearing that at a summer wedding in Italy! (Might as well fantasize big!)

  29. July 3, 2021 / 11:09 am

    A very clever solution. And you need a third necklace? Haha you are just as bad with Kande as I am with the earrings of Lara Design.
    Greetje

  30. Lagatta de Montréal
    July 4, 2021 / 12:11 pm

    Susan, could you remove me from the automatic e-mail? Just too many items in my browser (merci bien!)

  31. July 4, 2021 / 2:46 pm

    I, too, would love to know who, except preteens, are buying anything that stores, in person or online, have to offer! Especially us Petites! Can you even imagine a senior petite woman in a tiered, peasant dress? Not a milkmaid, dearie, but the cow!

  32. Juti
    July 5, 2021 / 5:42 am

    I’d never heard of “cottagecore” and looked it up. I wouldn’t mind the aesthetic for my patio, but not for this body! Perhaps the idea of all those ruffles and prints is to hide behind them in the post-pandemic world, but that’s only my guess. I’m sticking to my jeans and 3/4 sleeve t-shirts!

  33. Eileen
    July 6, 2021 / 12:47 pm

    I’ve saved a lot of money this year due to the colors and styles offered. I’m a petite pear, so the oversized, or shapeless items didn’t suit me. The “cheeky” swimwear doesn’t suit a pears shape. The tie dye/ large print/multiple flounces are too large for my physique. The earth tones and black colors don’t suit me. What did I buy? High waisted pants,Zara, a cropped jacket,Zara, a cotton solid fit and flare shirt dress with sleeves, Talbots, one shoulder pad tee, Massimo dutti , espadrilles,Toni pons and J crew. Some exercise wear for the gym. I look for fitted items mostly, or I alter them. I visited Italy in 2019, I’m still wearing those things, and I will say , the clothing was not heavily influenced by youth driven styles, I’m glad I bought what I did.

  34. Margot
    July 9, 2021 / 10:40 am

    Love the tiger print blouse and agree about the bow. A v-neck is a great idea. I also could see this top with a small stand-up collar (mandarin).

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