Trend Styling: How to Style an Exaggerated Structured Top 4 Ways

Make your sleeves work for you.
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Structured tops are having a moment—it seems like every time I look online, there's a new off-shoulder, gingham, or bow-tied variation, and I couldn't be more excited. These tops (which I loosely define as anything that has an exaggerated or architectural sleeve or shape to it) hold a special place in my closet, since they're a great way to add a little edge. Here are four of my favorite ways to style some of the most popular versions available:

How to Style an Exaggerated Structured Top 4 Ways Text Slides_Cascading Sleeves
How to Style an Exaggerated Structured Top 4 Ways_Cascading Sleeves

With something like a waterfall sleeve, you want to keep the rest of your outfit relatively simple, which is why this top works well with tailored pants or with cut-offs. Each is a foundational piece that's easy to build upon. You could also pair it with a black pencil skirt or our favorite pair of skinny jeans—just stick to tailored pieces to avoid looking messy and baggy. 

How to Style an Exaggerated Structured Top 4 Ways Text Slides_Patterned & Polished
How to Style an Exaggerated Structured Top 4 Ways_Patterned and Polished
How to Style an Exaggerated Structured Top 4 Ways_Patterned and Polished 2

Both of these gingham tops have big, bold sleeves, so I balanced the look with black cigarette pants, heels, and bags. If you're in the mood for something more casual, try pairing the top with jeans and sandals. The outfit will still feel polished, but lighter and more summery.

How to Style an Exaggerated Structured Top 4 Ways Text Slides_Off-Shoulder
How to Style an Exaggerated Structured Top 4 Ways_Off Shoulder
How to Style an Exaggerated Structured Top 4 Ways_Off Shoulder 2

Off-shoulder tops are a summer go-to. Whenever I can't decide what to wear, I usually choose an off-shoulder top because it's easy to throw on and light enough for the L.A. heat. This look is perfect with boyfriend jeans and sandals or, if you're going for something dressier, with a fun heel and red lip. I often carry a clutch since a cross-body can lead to wardrobe malfunctions when paired with an off-shoulder top.

How to Style an Exaggerated Structured Top 4 Ways Text Slides_Short-Sleeved (and No Sleeves)
How to Style an Exaggerated Structured Top 4 Ways_Short-Sleeved (and No Sleeves)

While short-sleeved and strapless tops are less dramatic than the billowy, dramatic sleeved tops, they share the same interesting, architectural elements. The tops are more understated, so add fun details to other parts of your outfit. Pair it with a pump and snake-skin clutch, or straight-leg pants and a braided up-do. Pulling your hair up will draw even more attention to your exaggerated top.