Posted on: February 7, 2024 Posted by: Comments: 0

Sure, we all know what wardrobe essentials for work professional women are supposed to have in their closets, but if you’re buying one for the first time or replacing one you’ve worn into the ground, it can be a pain to find exactly the right incarnation in stores. In “The Hunt,” we search the stores for a basic item that every woman should have.

If you’ve been hunting for dressy tops for work outfits that have that special something, we have some great suggestions — and we’d love to hear yours. These are all machine washable, and can easily be worn beneath blazers for a more conservative office environment, or just worn by themselves with trousers for a more business casual style.

For purposes of this post, we’re not including (links go to our round-up posts):

blouses with buttons (whether crisp or silky), or silk popovers

sweaters and sweater tees

tops that are dry-clean only or need to be ironed

basic work-appropriate T-shirts

camisoles or other sleeveless tops (know your office!)

We’ve rounded up all of those in the past, and we’ll put our latest favorites at the bottom of this post… but for purposes of today, we’re hunting for that hard-to-define top that can really elevate any work outfit, and effortlessly add style and polish…

In general, tops we’re including might have features like the following… (links all go to Nordstrom if you want to see the most recent options they have)…

surplice necklines

cowl necklines

twisted or wrapped tops (whether faux or real)

tops with ruching

draped tops

asymmetric details

pleat details


corset inspiration (in an architectural, not boudoir kind of way, if that makes sense)

puffed sleeves


belted tops

poms and other details

{related: The Ultimate Guide to Business Casual for Women}

The Best Dressy Tops for Work Outfits


Some might call this blousy T-shirt from M.M.LaFleur just, you know, a blouse — I’m including it in this roundup because it feels somehow more than a blouse with the draping, slight peplum, and dolman sleeves — but it also feels like it’s as easy to wear as a T-shirt. (In fact, the brand notes that this top is “the intersection of three of our favorite things: a classic tee shape, elegant draping, and machine-washable, travel-friendly fabric.”)

The shirt is 100% polyester and can be machine-washed; it currently comes in three colors, sizes XS-XXL. Also great: their Antonia top (an elevated V-neck that feels more like a blouse) and their Jin top, a button-front knit with a wide square neck.


This jersey T-shirt from Boden with tiny pom details at the crewneck and sleeves is lovely — such a great way to elevate a crewneck. I also like the slightly puffed sleeves, and the keyhole at the back.

The T-shirt comes in five colors — green and navy have multicolored poms, while red, black and white have poms that match the shirt for a monotone look. It’s $50 at Boden, available in sizes 2-22.

Modern Citizen

Modern Citizen has a number of clothes that feature this polished wrap effect — this slightly cropped T-shirt also has it.

The shirt comes in six colors, in sizes XS-1X — we’ve pictured the “blue grey” option.

Amazon Seller Avanova

I recently saw this top from Amazon seller Avanova featured in a Buzzfeed roundup, and liked it a lot — it has a really elegant look but for a super affordable price. The top comes in the half-sleeve version pictured as well as a sleeveless, short-sleeve, and long-sleeve version; all options are under $35 and come in about 30 colors in sizes XS-3X.

The material is a polyester/rayon/Spandex blend — they suggest “hand wash only,” but I would definitely put it in a delicates bag in the machine.

(One of the reader favorite sellers, Milumia, has a two sleeveless options that are really similar; so does seller Sweaty Rocks.)

{related: what to buy at Amazon for work outfits}

Saint & Sofia

This cowl-neck tee from Saint & Sofia looks great — it has an almost classic elegance to it. I’ve pictured it in this pretty blue floral pattern, but most of the 9 color options are solids. The shirt is made out of an “sustainable eco viscose,” which the brand describes as having a “silky smooth hand feel,” but the brand does not that it’s machine washable.

The top is $44, and comes in US sizes 2-18; they also have camisoles, dresses, and long-sleeved tees featuring a cowl neck as well.

The Fold London

This top is one of the OGs when I think about this kind of top — it isn’t quite a blouse or T-shirt, definitely not a sweater — but it’s not a blazer either. I’ve always thought it lends a ton of authority and polish to practically any outfit, whether you wear it with jeans or more formal trousers.

The top comes in 9 options, including sleeveless ones, at The Fold, available in US sizes 2-14, and the brand notes that it is “cool machine hand wash, at least in this “Clever Crepe” material.

Looking for a dupe? Amazon seller Grace Karin has a few similar options, including this top under $50.

Amour Vert

I’m putting this top from Amour Vert at the bottom because it’s down to lucky sizes, and unclear if they’ll be bringing it back — but I love that little twist detail at the neckline!


This striped “corset peplum top” from Maeve is worth mentioning also — the stripes make it feel inherently casual, but the corset detailing, peplum, and puff sleeves all make this the kind of top you can wear to work or weekend without much else for adornment. It’s available in regular, petite, and plus sizes for $68, and comes in three colors (green, white, and black).

Other Great Tops for Work Outfits

These tops all fall into more distinct categories… here are our latest favorites from each category!

Work Appropriate T-Shirts

Looking for the best work-appropriate T-shirts? As of 2024, some of our favorite dressy T-shirts for work are from Amazon Essentials, Theory, Everlane, J.Crew, Banana Republic, and Vince — also check our posts on opaque white tees and the best plus-size tees for work!

Amazon Essentials




Dressy T-Shirts with Sophisticated Prints

Looking for T-shirts with fun but professional prints for 2024? Some classic brands to check include Ted Baker, Boden, and The Kit. These may be on the more casual side, but also look at Sanctuary, Caslon, and Tommy Bahama.

Great Sweaters for Work

Short-Sleeved Sweaters

Some of our favorite short-sleeve sweaters for 2024 include Quince ($45!), Ann Taylor, J.Crew,* and this Amazon bestseller. (* plus sizes too!) If you’re hunting for something fancier, check out Kule or The Reset. (Try code CORPORETTE10 for 10% off.) As of 2024, Nordstrom and Anthropologie both have a huge selection of sweater tees.

Silky Blouses

100% Silk Tops for Work Outfits

Some of the best silk blouses for work in 2023: green / pink / navy / royal / black

Silky Button-Front Blouses

Pictured above, some of our favorite brands for silk button-front blouses as of 2024: 1) Quince ($59!) 2) Boden 3) Everlane* 4) MM.LaFleur* and 5) Club Monaco. For more affordable options check Grana and Lilysilk; for fancier options check L’Agence, Equipment, and Vince.

Crisp Button-Front Blouses for Women

Pictured above, the best women’s collared blouses as of 2024: one / two* / three* / four / five (* = available in plus sizes; see more in our roundup of the best plus-size workwear blouses — also check out our DIY options for gaping blouses)

Sleeveless Work Tops

Like this feature? Check out other recent installments!

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