Thursday’s TPS Report: Sparkle & Fade Pleated Silk Tee

Our daily TPS reports suggest one piece of work-appropriate attire in a range of prices.

Urban Outfitters isn’t in our usual hit list for the TPS report, we’ll admit, but today we are liking this slouchy, stripey silk blouse from Sparkle & Fade.  We’d wear it with a black pencil skirt, a long opera-length necklace, and perhaps a pair of flats with just a bit of a point to the toe — maybe in a color, otherwise just a black or skin-toned shoe.  We like the “hair up” look with the boatnecked neckline, for whatever reason, so we’re also seeing it with a low, slightly messy bun for the workday. The top is $54 at Urban Outfitters (sizes XS-L). Sparkle & Fade Pleated Silk Tee



  1. whoa, that shirt is so not good looking. i’m trying to like it but i just…can’t.

    • Perhaps the prison like stripes? Unless you want to get arrested for white collar crime, no way this sweater is a good idea! ;-)

      I do in general like wider sleeves like those, just no stripes! And $54 is way too much for a blah to ugly top that is too casual for work, sorry! (As in without the stripes it would be a blah top I’d expect to find at a teeny bopper store like Wet Seal for $20, with the stripes I don’t get who decided to make it instead of firing the designer)

  2. At first I wasn’t sure, but I think it would look great when styled as Kat described. I think the key to pulling it off would be accessories/makeup/shoes all being very ladylike.

    • Agree. I would wear it with a fitted skirt + pearls. Only concerned about too-large armholes which are a pet peeve of mine! Wish it wasn’t silk though, I’d love this in a knit.

  3. No. Just, no.

  4. I think the model’s dazed and forlorn look and the and stooped shoulders don’t do this top justice. I think I like it. My only concern is the side view – that’s a lot of armpit showing, and it looks like the front is pretty baggy.

    • I totally agree with your assessment re: the model’s impact on the clothing. Terrible, just terrible.

      For a hot summer day when I want something airy and cool, I could see wearing this top. But the right styling is essential. I’d pair it with black pants, and – this is key – a pearl necklace. I really think the pearl necklace would change the look of this top dramatically (for the better).

    • my thoughts exactly. Looks like all the models at Urban Outfitters are bored and would rather not be wearing the clothes. when I looked at the pictures, I found the slouching a real turn off for the clothing.

    • The model’s expression + posture is seriously off. It makes me pity her — not the reaction UO was hoping for, I would assume.

      I’m not crazy about the top and could not consider it since I have the wrong body type for horizontal stripes. But I could almost see this under a suit, where the jacket covers most of it and only allows for a peek.

      • Agree with all these styling comments — but I’m pretty sure that this is what UO was going for! I think this store is very much over-priced hipster, which means that you can’t look excited wearing the clothes.

        Also, if anyone is planning to buy, the quality is not always great with UO, but this top could be cute.

      • Is there a right body type for horizontal stripes? From watching What Not to Wear and reading other style advice, I have always had the impression that they are bad all around.

        But yesterday I bought a cute shirt with black and ivory horizontal stripes with some black detail at the neckline. Its cuteness and clearance price helped me overcome the fear of stripes. But I don’t know if that was a mistake.

        • For some reason I think I remember hearing (perhaps on What Not to Wear, I can’t remember) that some horizontal stripes are ok. Particularly thin stripes are fine, but thick/wide ones aren’t. Or it could just be a figment of my imagination that I heard that….

  5. I’m having a hard time seeing it at work, but I think it could be really cute for going out to dinner – on the right body to pull it off, which isn’t mine. Still, I think this could turn my head on the right girl.

  6. … and after all the touting of silk blouses that I’ve done, Corporette goes and posts this, underminding all of my hard word. Alas, nobody will ever believe in the credibility of the silk blouse now.

    • I’m a big fan of silk bouses, too, but I have a hard time finding ones that aren’t too froofy but do have sleeves (even short, which I prefer to sleeveless). Do you have any favorites or suggestions for where to look?

      • I have seen some TO DIE FOR GORGEOUS silk blouses (with cap sleeves or very thick straps) at Talbots recently. If only they weren’t $80-90 each, I would have them all to wear with my pencil skirts and cashmere cardis. I know Talbots isn’t a great brand for everybody (so you would definitely need to experiment with sizes), but I imagine buying a size or two down from normal might help with fit.

        Brooks Brothers tends to do a few modest silk blouses each collection, but they are quite expensive full price and so I wait for the sales (there is one coming up in late June) because the deals tend to offer 30-50% off (and for the clothes being made as well as they are, that’s pretty good sale pricing).

        Also, believe it or not (you might die with shock here so keep the defibrillator handy), Forever 21 (online only, since it’s much easier to search there than in the miserable picked over pilings of refuse they call their stores) is actually a great place to look for cheap silk shells/blouses. Their somewhat new ‘Love 21’ line has consistently lovely and modestly fitting options for under $25 a top, and you can also even find the occasional piece in the regular lines as well. I saw there (online) recently, for example, a perfect pale yellow, short sleeve silk blouse with a subtle ruffle at the top that would be so perfect under a light colored summer suit or cardigan.

        Finally, I often search for ‘silk blouse’ and just see what comes up at what price points, as Shop Style searches multiple stores/sites at once and puts all the results conveniently in one place for your silk-blouse-buying delight.

        • I was in Talbots yesterday — a lot of those silk blouses are on sale now — unfortunately mostly sizes 8 and up; but maybe more sizes are available on their website.

          I didn’t end up with any of the silk blouses but did get a fabulous black “boyfriend” cardigan for about $25. It’s not too long or loose and seems to me like a perfect iteration of the style for the office environment. Wearing it today — it’s amazingly comfy, neither too cold or too warm, perfect for AC weather. The instructions say no dryer but the guy behind the cash register who bought one himself (yes, a guy) said he threw his in the dryer on a low setting & it survived just fine. The cardigan also comes in a very pretty dark pink & some lemony light green & yellow colors. I loved the dark pink. but thought the lime and lemon colors did not look good at all. Just in case anyone is looking for a nice little office sweater for the summer.

          • I have that cardigan in the dark pink. Looooove. It’s perfect for casual days at work, and it’s so comfortable that I throw it on for weekends as well and wear it more open/loungy. I have seriously got so.much.wear out of that thing, which I didn’t expect. I got a slightly different style in a heather gray that I’m loving too.

            I’m not shy about my love of Talbots, but I do especially love that they have actual COLOR in the store this spring! I just ordered these two shirts for under suit wear:



            I’ll have to see what I think in person, but right now I’m thinking they will be lovely under suits.

          • Anonymous :

            I got 2 of these (boyfriend cardigans) and love them too. Fit is great (I am small up top) and unlike some of the boxy comments regarding Talbots, this cardigan did give me “a shape.”

          • RR: I saw both of these shirts in store yesterday & they were gorgeous! The cream with pink flowers, especially.
            They did not have it in my size, unfortunately, but the print was really lush & beautiful. I hope both of the work out for you — I know I was very sad that I couldn’t be leaving with that pink one in my shopping bag :)

          • RR, those are the two blouses I’m lusting hard over. I am experiencing severe jealousy pangs that they will get to live under your suits and not mine right now.

          • It’s sad how excited I am that Corporettes approve! LOL! With all the talk about how frumptastic Talbots is, I was beginning to wonder if I was nuts, but I think both are beautiful. They are at my house right now according to UPS, so I’ll report back tomorrow!

        • Thanks for the tips! I’m going to check out your recommended sites now!

        • I can second the comment on Forever 21 – a woman in my office has this

          on today – cute but modest. If she hadn’t told me it was from Forever 21 I would not have guessed.

          • North Shore :

            I think the key to Talbots is buying smaller. I wear a 6 petite jacket at J. Crew, a 6 petite shirt from Brooks Brothers, but at Talbots I need to get a 2 petite or I’m swimming in it.

          • Love it. That’s exactly the type of shell I’d buy at Forever 21 (assuming it didn’t cling awkwardly on me, of course). I’d wear it under a nice black merino or cashmere cardigan with a gray pencil skirt and simple pearl or sterling silver earrings..

        • Thanks for the recs!

    • frump – I’m curious, but how do you keep silk clothes nice? I’ve had horrible problems with water-staining and other issues … I avoid that fabric like the plague now.

      • Just dry clean every couple of wears. If you get a water stain, dab around the edges of it with a damp (not soaked) towel and it should take out the line.

      • s-k-s, well I am definitely a silk whore, so get ready for a proper essay on tips to wearing silk. I’ve figured these out over a long time of properly lusting over this fabric and buying all too much of it…

        First, I often wear a thicker, stretchy microfiber type camisole under a silk blouse. This helps catch the sweat so the cami gets dirty instead of the blouse. This also helps to reduce wrinkles, as the cami smoothes me out and prevents the blouse from ‘catching’ in me/crinkling up as I sit.

        Second, I generally tend to buy my silk things in looser fitting styles so they skim or drape over me as oppose to cling. Clinging, tight silk will wrinkle very easily as it tugs, pulls, and settles with your body all day, whereas looser fitting silk will fall more naturally over you and thus not wrinkle quite as much.

        Third, I tend to look carefully at the type of silk it is that I am buying. While I admit I am a sucker for silk charmeuse, it wrinkles probably the worst of all silks and is the hardest to press and clean, so generally I try not to buy too many things out of this type of silk. However, I’ve found buying silk charmeuse in a very bold or dark-colored print actually helps disguise the wrinkles, so you could probably get away with fewer pressings. This isn’t the case for solid (especially light) colored charmeuse, however, and it shows wrinkles very obviously such that a pressing/dry cleaning may likely be necessary after a single wear.

        For sturdier pieces that aren’t so delicate, my favorite silks to buy are silk knits (wrinkles much less because it is a heavier fabric that almost feels like cotton, but is smoother with a shapely drape) and cotton-silk blends (more resilient than pure silk because of the added stiffness provided by the cotton, but still smooth with a nice drape and great for keeping cool and layering). For silks somewhere in between, I do admit I love silk georgette and especially silk chiffon (it is truly an ethereal fabric, especially when it has a light sheen), but the key, in my opinion, to buying these fabrics, since they are still a bit delicate, is again, a looser fitting style or a style that is tight only in places that aren’t going to tug/settle into your skin (for example, fitted right around the underside of the bust, but then flowy from there).

        Finally, I really try to watch the price of the silk pieces I buy, as I know they ARE going to involve more upkeep than your standard wash-and-go convenience top. If I spent less on the item itself, I know I’m not going to mind having to pay to dry clean it more often because the initial price was good. But, I suppose this is personal issue as well- I love my silk so much (it makes me feel so well put together and ladylike) that I’m willing to pay for the extra upkeep.

      • Anonymous :

        A good quality 100% silk shell of basic construction (I’m thinking of my Talbots ones) can be hand washed and hung to dry. Press with an iron hot enough to get the wrinkles out. Use Woolite, Ivory liquid soap (the hand dishwashing kind), or even, in a pinch, shampoo. I had a Balenciaga silk shell that was a discount store find that took me through a southern summer interview season – I would wear it to one interview, sweat it in the 90 degree plus, 100% humidity, come back to my apartment, wash it in the sink, hang it to dry in front of a fan for 20 minutes, press it the rest of the way dry, and wear it out to another interview that day. It lasted, looking good, for 8 years. Don’t try this with cheap material, cheap or constructed construction, or a silk blend. I swear by the sink, hang dry, iron thing. After all, you don’t think the ancient Chinese sent their silk out for dry cleaning do you?!

  7. I just can’t see this working very well on most people. The droopy “sleeves”, the baggy front, the solid black mantel at the top. It just looks sad, and I mean that literally. Looking at the top I just feel like the model wearing it looks.

    (And what is up with “You are commenting too fast. Slow down.”)

  8. I’m sorry, but that is beyond fug. I don’t want look like an excaped convict. Jeez, of all the nice tops out there at the mo, THAT gets chosen?? What a waste of some poor silkworm’s cocoon.

    • *escaped, even. I’m in such shock I forgot how to spell.

    • What a waste of some poor silkworm’s cocoon.


    • I wholeheartedly concur. It either needs more or less structure (it would look nice if it were tailored more to fit a woman’s body right or nice poofy sleeves and longer to wear with nice skinny pants). I don’t know what’s going on with this in between fabric mess.

    • Agreed!

      ‘Hate’ is a very strong word. However, I find such a word completely appropriate when describing my feelings for this awful top.

  9. It’s a bit too reminiscent of the Adams Family for me (esp. with that hair & facial expression), but I do agree that on the right person, with the right add ons, it could be cute.

  10. ick

  11. This is indeed horrible. It’s terribly unshapely. The shoulder area appears far too wide and the sleeves are either too short or too long, I haven’t decided which. Sort of reminds me of the “Choose Life” shirts worn by George Michael in the “Wake Me Up Before You Go Go” video – but I suppose I’m showing my age.

    • It totally reminds me of all of those baggy shirts I used to wear back in the 80’s.

  12. I like this, but I don’t think I’d be comfortable in it for work. It would show too much arm (both pit and my not-so-nice upper arms), and I’d need a cardigan, but I don’t see a cardigan working well over the neckline and strange sleeves. I agree, there are much nicer silk blouses out there that could have been picked instead.

  13. There have definitely been a lot of misses on the TPS reports lately.

    • I agree. And unlike the last time a particularly bad streak happened, this time we don’t even have April Fool’s to use as a speculative excuse for the questionable choices.

  14. windupbird :

    If you do wear it tucked into a pencil skirt, would it fluff out too much?

    • It doesn’t look like it can be tucked in (and stay that way).

    • If you check out the photos of it in pink, you can see the horror that results from tucking this shirt. Ugh. Much ugh.

      • Yuck! And doesn’t the model in the blue stripe version look pregnant? Way too much belly for me.

  15. Meh. The wide stripes are rarely a girl’s friend, so I only see this working on a select group of people. And then only in the right circumstances.

  16. lawyergrrl :

    I’m totally with Kat on this one — I think this silk blouse, tucked into a black pencil skirt & worn with a wide belt, would be adorable. In fact, you could wear this with a black suit jacket & black shoes during the day & then pull out a pair of red shoes (lose the jacket of course) for evening. I’ve just ordered (woo hoo!) & while sizing may be an issue (I went with the S so it will hopefully be long enough to tuck, but an XS might be in order with the boxy goings-on). Sorry the rest of you don’t dig it, but that just means there’s still one left for me. Thanks Kat!!

    • Agreed, I love it and think it is very Parisian-chic.

    • I also agree. I really like this top. Unfortunately the high neck thing doesn’t work on my body type (too busty). But it is super cute, and styled appropriately could be great for work.

    • I like it too. Parisian was the first thing that came to mind, a dressier version of all those stripey Splendid tops that have been out lately. It would have to be styled properly to work, but I think Kat’s suggestions are right on.

    • Lawyergrrl, I think you should report back to us when you get and let us know if it is as lovely you think it is or as bad as so many others seem to think it will be. Just to satisfy everyone’s curiousity. ;)

  17. I think I could tolerate the sleeves but I just don’t ever really know what to do with boat necklines like that.

    I agree with the comments about the model’s hair and facial expression. Certainly doesn’t make me want to run out and buy that shirt.

  18. I’m with the folks who like this one for certain body shapes. I would be willing to give Kat’s styling suggestion a try for work, but am not 100% convinced. I do think it would look terribly cute with some skinnies replacing the black skirt on the weekend (but keeping the opera-length necklace and slightly pointy flats).

  19. Huh, surprised by all the negative comments. I think this is pretty fab. I like how it is solid black at the top, then becomes stripey. One of the better takes on the spring stripe trend. I agree, wearing it tucked in or with skinny black pants would be key to mitigate the blousy-ness. True, this wouldn’t work in super formal offices, but it would be just fine in my San Francisco law firm.

  20. I’m not into this one at all. It’s see-through and the armholes are a bit too big, so you’d have to wear a cami underneath to be decent. I think it’s too baggy to work under a jacket/cami and it appears that it doesn’t work too well tucked in either. It’s a definite no for me.

  21. I love this. Don’t buy from Urban Outfitters, but this style is cute and I don’t understand the haters. I’d wear a tissue-thin cap sleeve black turtleneck underneath. For smaller-chested ladies, horizontal strips on top with a black skirt or pants look fab. I think this is a fresh, modern take on silk – bold, not froufy. Good pick Kat, way to think outside the box.

    Thumbs down on model’s pose, however. Classic UO, ‘I’ve just had a lobotomy’ pose. Ick.

  22. Hm, only for girls with smaller chests, I think. A shapeless silk blouse draped over d-cups just looks like maternity wear.

    • Well, that’s an excellent expression of why I can’t ever pull off drapey, shapeless clothing! Could never put my finger on why they looked so wrong on me.

  23. Delta Sierra :

    I’m seeing so many horizontal stripes lately. Is there some fashion rule against vertical stripes?

    • I think the striped, somewhat sailor-y shirt is just very in this season. I have been seeing various versions pop up everywhere.
      No rule against vertical stripes, of course, though I do think the ubiquity of vertical striped shirts for men has ruined the look for both genders for a while, at least as far as boldly contrasted button downs are concerned. But you can always get a cute little seer sucker jacket or skirt if you want some vertical stripes — always a fresh look in the summer, in my opinion.

    • I always was told there was a rule against horizontal ones, but I like to break fashion rules anyway.

  24. Beetlejuice, Beetlejuice, Beetlejuice!

  25. Beetlejuice, Beetlejuice, Beetlejuice!

    I might like it better if it had a better shape to it. Those droopy armholes are just sad.

  26. I love boatnecks, but this shirt is so…unshaped. And the pleats are the top are rather fussy.

  27. that sleeve is flattering on practically no one.

  28. Last time I went to Urban Outfitters (10 years ago) their quality was terrible. Has anyone been there recently?

    I agree that the model makes the shirt look heinous, but I like Kat’s styling suggestions.

  29. I LOVE this. I’d wear it with skinny black pants and brightly-colored pumps outside the office, and with a pencil skirt and opera-length necklace at work. Anyone know about Urban Outfitter’s quality?

    • I think they’re the cheaper cousin of Anthro, geared more towards college kids (though that’s not to say they might not have some decent pieces). I haven’t shopped there since I was in school, though.

  30. Only for the Very Tall and Very Thin.

    And just think, if you wear it to criminal court, with those stripes, you can show solidarity with the prisoners.

  31. I have a couple of tops quite a bit like that from a few years back. I thought they would go with many things, but I find they only look good with jeans.

  32. Wow, almost laughed out loud when I looked at UO’s pictures of the purple version of this shirt. Any shirt that can make a model who is probably a size zero look that unshapely and overweight is not going anywhere near my body!

  33. Perhaps the model is just wearing a shirt that’s 4 sizes too big. The girl in purple looks like she’s wearing her mother’s clothes.

  34. Not a fan of the shirt. But if you took the hairstyle, ditched the shirt and way-too-tight pants, and added a metal-mesh bikini – any guy with a latent Star Wars fantasy would be on you like white on rice.

  35. hah! I was thinking “Heidi” but I think I like yours better.

  36. I LOVE IT!

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