How-To: Wear A Lace Midriff Top

Allison asked: I have a shirt (pictured above) that I got awhile ago (it’s actually an old costume piece from a Broadway show)…can you recommend any way to wear it? The sleeves are very long, but the shirt isn’t long enough to wear on top of anything. 

A. This is one of my favorite challenges: taking a sentimental old piece that you adore but isn’t exactly practical, and figuring out new ways to incorporate it into your wardrobe. When you say that it’s too short to wear over anything…I assume that means it’s up there around mid-boob? If not, you can totally wear it over lightweight tees, tanks, and dresses – I’d add layered long necklaces to draw the eye vertically (since crop tops can look boxy and a little dated).

But if that’s not an option, here are some more ideas:

1. Under a sweater vest and tank

As a wear-under-things top, your options would be greatly expanded by cutting out the neck so that you only show off the sleeves and don’t have to worry about competing necklines. I’d do that, and wear it layered with a tank and a loose button-down vest-thing, like the ones pictured above (Alice & Olivia; Clu).

2. Under a jumper or shift


If you don’t want to cut out the neck, how about going for a schoolgirl-inspired look with a jumper or a shift worn over it (like these styles from Milly and Asos – although you should skip red to avoid looking like a Valentine doily)?

I know this has a pretty  Donna-and-Kelly-on-90120 feel to it, but hey, it’s a lace top…and I think we’re far enough away from that decade that we can start bringing some of those looks back. Just be sure to keep everything else modern and sophisticated (no baby backpacks, knee-high anything, or granny hats with big faux flowers on them) so that the overall effect isn’t too throwback and/or little-girl. Try wearing your hair in an elegant updo and adding great jewelry and ankle boots or two-tone stacked heels.

3. Barely showing, under a sweaterdress

And finally, you could try wearing it under a big, slouchy sweaterdress with an oversized turtleneck and rolling up the sleeves to expose just a hint of the lace.


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