The Hunt: The Best Sleeveless Tops, Shells, and Blouses for Work

These are our favorite sleeveless tops, blouses and shells to wear to work—whether layered under a blazer/cardi or by themselves. Bonus: most are under $50! Note that these make GREAT components of an interview outfit or interview look!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.

Sleeveless tops are a basic in every woman’s work wardrobe — but which ones are the best? These are some of the best-selling styles we’ve mentioned in the past, all rounded up in one place — I’d love to hear your favorites that aren’t included here. As I’ve noted in the past, these aren’t necessarily my favorite tops to wear under blazers or other dry-clean-only clothes — call me a weirdo, but I like to have sleeves (even short sleeves) to better separate my body from the clothes that need expensive cleaning. (You may want to check out our post on the best tees for layering if that sounds more like your speed.) That said… a sleeveless top is much better for layering and creating clean lines beneath cardigans and blazers. I like that all of these tops cover the bra strap entirely; they also have pretty high arm holes and relatively high necklines — they’re very different from camisoles we’ve featured in the past. (As we’ve cautioned in the past, know your office — sleeveless looks aren’t always considered professional or conservative enough by themselves; only layered beneath things.)

Readers,  which are your favorite sleeveless tops for work — and how do you wear them? What’s  your preferred price range (most of these are under $50!) — and where do you buy your sleeveless tops? 

See our roundup, after the jump…


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sleeveless top for work: a super affordable option in regular, petite and plus sizesReaders recommended this super affordable sleeveless top from Kohls’ a while back, and I’ve been impressed by how many iterations I’ve seen of the same top since it came on my radar: it’s always got a zillion new prints and colors available. Most of the prints aren’t necessarily my taste, but if you see one you like snap it up because they change frequently. The tops are available in regular, petite, and plus sizes for $15-$35. Dana Buchman Knot Front Top (also try this link)
I remembered that we mentioned this top recently — but looking today I’m surprised to see that we were talking about it as long ago as 2012. The Macy’s description notes that it’s unlined, but if you look at the back of the shirt it does look like the front is double-lined. I knew the shirt came in black and white — I did not realize Macy’s has a zillion other colors (I particularly like this windowpane). The top is available in regular and petite sizes 2-16, as well as plus sizes for $25-$59.  Calvin Klein Sleeveless Pleated Top
This inverted pleat top from Vince Camuto has been around for a few years and has a great blousy look if you don’t like close-fitting tops. It’s currently available in a ton of colors at Macy’s for $32.  Inverted-Pleat Blouse
I always like Anne Klein clothes for work, and this triple pleat neck sleeveless top looks lovely. (We featured it not long ago in a leopard print!) It’s available in sizes XS-XL at Nordstrom for $39 (ooh, and Macy’s has additional colors and a sale today for $23 — as well as plus sizes). The top is also machine washable.  Triple Pleat V-Neck Jersey Top
This Tahari top is a bit more expensive ($68 full price) — but note that the georgette fabric is listed as “dry clean.” (You can see our thoughts about what “dry clean” really means here, though.) It’s available in white and black at Nordstrom and Bloomingdale’s for $68. (This V-necked sleeveless top from Calvin Klein is similarly priced and also getting good reviews.) Pictured:  ‘Edie’ Pleat V-Neck Blouse
silk sleeveless top This silk blouse has long been a best-seller at Saks and Bloomingdale’s — I love the high collar paired with the deep V. It’s available in basic colors for $178 in XS-XL. Judith Silk Blouse

Like this feature? Check out other recent installments!

Social media images (woman in yellow sleeveless top) via Deposit Photos / xcai.

This post contains affiliate links and Corporette® may earn commissions for purchases made through links in this post. For more details see here. Thank you so much for your support!

These are our favorite sleeveless tops, blouses and shells to wear to work—whether layered under a blazer/cardi or by themselves. Bonus: most are under $50! Note that these make GREAT components of an interview outfit or interview look!

Comments

  1. Couldn’t help but notice that all the tops but one are a v-neck and are basically the same silhouette. It is much easier for me to find shells than tops with sleeves but I tend towards necklines other than v-neck and prefer bright colors and fun prints. I have started wearing a uniqlo airsim shirt under my shells to keep deodorant from getting onto my cardigans and blazers.

    • Anonymous :

      Thanks for the tip on uniqlo airism. The necks on them look like they’re low enough to not show above the neckline of shells. I have the Calvin Klein pleated top pictured above (in white and in black) and struggled just yesterday to find something in my wardrobe to wear under it to avoid the dreaded deodorant marks on a new Talbot’s knit duster. (I have yet to find a deodorant+anti-perspirant that TRULY doesn’t leave white marks.)

    • I have to agree, Kat. I love sleevless top’s, especialy in the summer, but the combo of v neck and sleevless makes these impossible for me to wear at work. Frank always pokes at my top with his mechaical pencil, and he is always stareing whenever I wear a sleevless top (or dress), hopeing to catch a peek at my bra, and to comment about how I look. FOOEY on him. I am forced into wearing sleeve’s and sometimes fully buttoning my blouses so that he can NOT see anything at all. DOUBEL FOOEY on him! I wish the manageing partner would step up and tell him he is doeing littel for my confidence as a profesional if all he thinks of me is a bunch of female part’s, which are there soleley to entertain him! TRIPEL FOOEY!

      • Ellen, I’ve seen you comment on multiple posts about Frank touching you and poking you and undressing you… are you a troll or are you afraid of HR?

  2. givemyregards :

    I have that vince camuto blouse and *love* it. I’m always recommending it to friends. I wear a camisole underneath it but it’s the perfect v-neck (for me, at least) that doesn’t show too much skin. I wash and hang dry mine, but they still need a quick pass with an iron. Am I the only one that only irons the front of shirts like these?? I never take off blazers/sweaters because my office is freezing, so at some point I just start ironing the fronts of blouses and the collars/cuffs of button downs that go under crew neck sweaters.

    • Anonymous :

      I’ve used my (clean) flat-iron to add a crease back to pants and to touch up cuffs and collars.

  3. Anonymous :

    I like the rayon sleeveless button down shells from Uniqlo. They look great layered under a sweater. https://www.uniqlo.com/us/en/women-rayon-sleeveless-blouse-405317.html?dwvar_405317_color=COL09&cgid=women-shirts-and-blouses

  4. cat socks :

    How timely! I have been looking for a white sleeveless shell and it looks like the Calvin Klein one fits the bill. A printed shell, cardigan and jeans are perfect for my very casual office.

    • Anonymous :

      I have the Calvin Klein one in white (and many other colors), and I love that it’s actually fairly opaque for a white top. I don’t need to wear a cami under it like I do with pretty much every other white shirt I own.

    • The downside of this shell is that it is a little wide / boxy, and a little short.

  5. There are a bunch more colors of the Anne Klein top on Amazon. I have both that one and the Vince Camuto one. Am finding Vince to be a lot more versatile – tuck in or leave out – and I like the lighter weight fabric. But both are good.

  6. Keilexandra :

    Kat, you always say “dry clean” means it can go in the wash, and I agree with you–but only when the *label* says “dry clean” as opposed to “dry clean only.” Online, I have noticed that many websites will list “dry clean” when the care label actually says “dry clean only,” probably for aesthetic/marketing reasons. For example, Anthropologie sells tons of dry-clean-only clothing but the website always lists them as just “dry clean.”

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