Petite tops/blouses so I don't freeze to death in the office.
August 12, 2014 9:42 AM   Subscribe

What has your experience been with silk tops? Specifically in regards to Everlane and/or Equipment if you've purchased from there. What other tops/blouses can you recommend to keep warm and look presentable at work?

Hi everyone,

I'm moving offices and I need to step up my clothing game. I look really ratty in my old zip up and I want to look more cleaned up and professional in the new office. I get very cold sitting in the office and I am generally someone who gets cold easily.

I'm looking for suggestions and some thoughts on getting silk tops. Specifically I'm looking to order from Everlane and maybe even from Equipment. Can 100% crepe de chine silk really keep you warm? I'm also concerned that the fabric will be cheap. I ordered some silk tops from Ann Taylor last year and they were overpriced and SO THIN and sheer. I cannot wear sheer tops, I refuse. What has your experience been with either of these brands?

I also welcome suggestions for merino wool and cashmere tops or anything that will keep me warm and look classy enough to wear to work. I prefer petite sizing and long sleeves.

Please do not recommend: anything from BR, GAP, Ann Taylor, typical mall stores (quality just seems so poor for the price you pay), cardigans (i hate the way they look), silk underwear.

Preferred budget is under $100 but I know the Equipment blouses run $150-200+ full retail.
posted by driedmango to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (20 answers total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
Silk is both warming and cooling. Do you like blazers? Have you looked at Wintersilks?
posted by brujita at 10:08 AM on August 12, 2014

I don't think a silk blouse will be enough to keep you warm. I'm only comfortable in offices when I layer warm things. For example, a thin merino sweater over a cotton shirt, topped with a wool blazer. Or a wool dress with fancy scarf, tights, wool socks and knee high boots. (Thank goodness for my office's liberal space heater under your desk policy.)

I look forward to response's re: quality--I'm on the look out for some silk blouses myself.
posted by purple_bird at 10:19 AM on August 12, 2014

My recommendations are:
1. lightweight silk undershirts and/or long underwear. I like my REI ones, but is good too.
2. Some good silk/cashmere blend cardigans - ebay is great for gently worn bargains.
3. A collection of nice silk scarves, along with 1-2 merino pashminas.
posted by susanvance at 10:30 AM on August 12, 2014

In terms of Merino, I'd recommend Icebreaker. In particular, you might find the tops on this page fit your criteria. Good luck!
posted by andythebean at 10:32 AM on August 12, 2014

Response by poster: I have blazers and I am already considering light underwear layers so that's why I pointed out no silk underwear recommendations. Also, just want to reiterate, no mentions of cardigans please. Please keep in mind I want something that I can wear to work. Icebreaker is a brand I have heard of but they do not make clothes that look appropriate to wear to work.

Thanks so far!
posted by driedmango at 10:37 AM on August 12, 2014

Best answer: The quality of the Equipment shirts I've bought has been excellent. They do have some shirts that are intended to be sheer, so watch out for that. (I do not buy into sheer shirts; no, no, no, shirts are to keep you covered, plus the sheer silk doesn't feel as nice to me as the more opaque.) Equipment shirts are one of the few "luxury" brands I feel okay buying at retail.

At a similar price point, I often like Joie shirts.

I can't help you on the warmth issue; I am always hot. They are comfortable for me to wear in summer (Northern California, so not blisteringly hot) and winter (Northern California, so mostly misty and 50 degrees).
posted by purpleclover at 10:42 AM on August 12, 2014

I have never bought an Everlane silk shirt, but I have one of their lightweight "cotton cashmere" sweaters and it's warm-but-not-too-warm. It's relatively thin, not too dressy but nice enough for work if paired with slacks+heels+nice earrings.

My recommendation is to try Nordstrom - just ask one of their amazing employees to bring you a wide selection of long-sleeve dressy blouses while you set up camp in their cushy dressing rooms.
posted by amaire at 10:48 AM on August 12, 2014

I've gotten good wool things from Boden and J. Crew Factory. And I'm going to mention one of the stores you nixed anyway--my best wool blazer is from a clearance rack at LOFT. Far and way though, the Boden pieces have been the most versatile because they have machine washable options.
posted by purple_bird at 10:54 AM on August 12, 2014

Best answer: I have an Everlane silk blouse from their first or second season, and I like it enough that I'm planning to buy another soon. I've never tried Equipment, but the Everlane silk is nicely weighty and opaque (though I purchased a medium shade). However, I don't find it particularly warm, especially if I'm not layering underneath. I'm petite and found the Everlane XS blouse to be a bit long, but based on pictures and online blog reviews I think the more recent iterations have fixed that issue. The sleeves were only a little bit long, very doable (I have short arms and a long torso, proportional to being 5'2").

My recommendation would be to layer a fitted long-sleeve top underneath an opaque silk blouse. You won't get the benefit of luscious silk against your skin, but it will keep you warm (and I speak as someone who is always cold). Alternatively, a silk blouse underneath a full-sleeve blazer is warm enough if you can keep the blazer on 100% of the time.

In the sweater world, I really love J.Crew's merino wool Tippi sweaters, so much that I've gotten used to their 3/4 sleeves. The shorter sleeves don't keep my hands quite as warm, though. The Tippis get quite affordable ($40-60) on sale, or you can spring for cashmere. Layering even a tank top underneath lofty cashmere helps a lot.

Also seconding Boden--I don't own any tops from them because the style is a bit conservative for my taste, but the quality is excellent and even cashmere/silk is usually machine washable.
posted by serelliya at 11:01 AM on August 12, 2014

Best answer: I get cold and don't like the look of cardigans too. When I needed to update my wardrobe and move away from fleece, I went to nice jackets. My experience with silk blouses was that they were not warmer than a regular shirt AND they cost a fortune to dry clean ($8 per wash? WTF?). Hand washed, they never looked as nice.

So I wear nice jackets / blazers with a long-sleeved washable blouse underneath. For the shirts, I like Lands End's fitted cotton/modal crew. I own seven of those. For the jackets, I personally love Elie Tahari. They're pricey but fit me beautifully. I buy some full price in the store, some on eBay. (I have a saved search for jackets in my size.) T by Tahari is their edgier, less expensive brand and sometimes has nice stuff, but the more expensive ones have superior fabric and construction. The current season isn't super-exciting but has some good basics, and eBay has lots.
posted by CruiseSavvy at 11:19 AM on August 12, 2014

How about scarves and shawls? I knit my own so don't have a brand recommendation, but they can be dressy and quite warm, especially if you're pairing it with a blazer or pullover sweater with an undershirt. A soft wide wool or cashmere shawl can basically function as a blanket at your desk, and be scrunched into a scarf at meetings etc.
posted by tchemgrrl at 11:29 AM on August 12, 2014

Wintersilks sells blouses too.
posted by brujita at 11:42 AM on August 12, 2014

Best answer: If you are willing to paw through thrift shops or trawl Etsy, there is still quite a lot of good-condition early 90s (+/-) silk out there -- not at all sheer, washes up beautifully -- and it's cheap, cheap enough that you can buy lots of it and throw it all at a seamstress and have it cut perfectly to your size and to 2014 ideals of silk blouse tailoring. The contemporary mall brands you mention are garbage, yes. Used/"vintage" and tailoring is a good work-around to get quality fabric and a custom fit at a good price.
posted by kmennie at 12:01 PM on August 12, 2014

Wool Overs was mentioned in a previous ask, and I've been happy with the cashmere and merino blends (both short-sleeved tops and cardigans) I've purchased. You will need to check the individual fit guide for each item.
posted by Iris Gambol at 12:16 PM on August 12, 2014

What is the dress code for your workplace? I work in marketing, and I keep a few things at my desk for when I'm cold:

1) A J Crew chambray Schoolboy blazer for the "I'm cold and have an important meeting" kind of thing.

2) A Madewell chambray shirt (which I basically have with me at all times.)

3) And a cardigan. I know, I KNOW! You hate cardigans, but not all cardigans are created equal. Here's one I keep at my desk that I'm wearing right now. I wear it open and over something more substantial than a tank top. (My lord I hate that cardigan combo look.) Right now I have it over a light, short-sleeved levi's chambray shirt. Also, I know the length may be a turn-off if you are petite, but you can definitely wear longer cardigans/sweaters even if you're petite. you just need to balance it with a full-length jean. (And hi-risers will make your legs look longer.)

I am not sure of your style, but I was a stylist at Madewell (owned by J Crew) and I find they are the perfect mix of hip/wear to work/could wear on weekends.

Also, the KEY to J Crew and Madewell is to wait until they have a sale with 30% off or 40% off of their markdowns. I paid $40 for that schoolboy blazer.

Oh yeah, and as you could have guessed, I love chambray. Chambray shirts, chambray button-downs, blazers, etc.
posted by anthropoid at 12:40 PM on August 12, 2014

Best answer: For wool tops, I really like John Smedley (which is expensive and you have to mail order from the UK, if you're in the US) because as much as I love Icebreaker (and Ibex), they are too casual for a dressed up work place.

Ureshii offers some of their tops in merino. Their merino is pretty good quality and their construction is very very good. Because it's all made to order, based on the measurements you give them, the sizing is excellent. Some of the options are pretty casual, but not all of them, and under a jacket, they are no more casual than a silk shell (in my opinion). I'm always cold in my office (I wore merino in here yesterday) and silk in the weight typical for women's blouses does not do it for me at all.
posted by crush-onastick at 12:51 PM on August 12, 2014

Best answer: I love the Equipment shirts: the quality is high and they're not see through. However, they're not gonna keep you warm. In my last office, I was FREEZING all the time (I run cold as it is without A/C). Are long belted sweaters like this OK? I kept one in my desk drawer. Another thing I did quite often is wear a big pashmina as a scarf or wrap. Finally, if you do wear skirts or dresses, nude fishnets go a long way in keeping you warm.
posted by sfkiddo at 4:10 PM on August 12, 2014

Best answer: Equipment is pretty nice. I like Everlane's silk blouses (the long sleeve at least), might be worth at least trying - their cuts are a little weird, maybe they work ok for you. I am planning on trying to hand wash them. I avoid silk crepe otherwise because frankly if it gets a little warm on the way or I am a little stressed you get underarm stains instantly, and who wants to constantly pay for dry cleaning (which doesn't really get them that clean). So the only silk blouses I do wear are navy and black.

I usually wear fitted t-shirts (like J Crew's Perfect tees or Theory's tees) with jackets. Favorites for jackets would be Theory and Vince.. Maje and Sandro make fabulous little jackets though they are kind of a splurge and the sizing runs very small. I know you hate the look of cardigans but when I worked in an office that was extra frigid I'd still keep a little cashmere cardigan (like J Crew - their cashmere is decent enough quality for office wear) in a neutral color around and layer it over the tee, but under the jacket, so you couldn't really see it but I was no longer freezing cold.
posted by citron at 8:23 PM on August 12, 2014

Response by poster: I love the recommendations so far! John Smedley, oh god I wish I could afford to wear JS all day everyday now! Yumi Kim also looks like a great brand and the designs definitely look work approriate. My work is in the finance industry but people dress professionally and stylishly. Something like a belted sweater, depending on the style and cut, can look ratty/casual instead of sleek and professional. I don't wear skirts or dresses to work, just a personal thing because of the cold. I also already have a huge wardrobe of scarves.

Thanks everyone! I welcome additional suggestions if anyone has any!

PS I asked for no mall recommendations because everyone already shops there...its nothing new and I already look and check out their collections/releases on a regular basis. I'm really looking for answers about warm tops/shirts, not warm thingthatisnotatop, or answers that specifically answer my questions about Everlane and Equipment. Best answers have been marked accordingly.
posted by driedmango at 9:54 AM on August 13, 2014

I also love A.P.C. a lot - I don't own any of their blazers (the coats are really nice though), but I do have a handful of their cotton/linen tees in solid colors for wearing under jackets in the summer, as well as a longer belted ribbed sweater that is quite elegant. Their basic, slim fit merino wool V-neck sweaters are fantastic - nice quality, don't lose their shape or pill all over and you can hand wash them - I wear them under a blazer in winter. (I waited for the fall/winter sale and bought them at a discount, full retail for the merino is usually like $180.)

I also like some of the silk sleeveless tops and jackets from Elie Tahari - YMMV, I don't care for most of their prints (too bold) but the solid colors are nice and the silk sleeveless tops are high quality, and I have a solid color knit blazer from there that I love. Most of their clothes seem a bit overdesigned for me but the simpler ones that I like, I really do like a lot, and it's all very well made. You can always find something on sale by searching around. But overall, Theory is my go-to brand because it works for my conservative (style-wise) work environment and their suits and tees just fit so well.
posted by citron at 5:20 AM on August 14, 2014

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