Wearing structured clothing that defines the waistline is often flattering, but not when you’re self conscious about your midsection. On the other hand, your “extra bits” are effectively concealed when you’re all layered up with camisoles, tops and jackets, but that’s not as comfortable and airy as wearing a single layer.

The solution is the banded top. Although it has a roomy torso that hides the waist, the band reins in the volume and adds a tailored look. It’s forgiving and structured at the same time. A fab idea.

If I could provide a magic formula for selecting the perfect banded top, I’d shout it from the rooftops. But, like the elusive sweater dress, you’ll probably need to try several before you hit the jackpot. Hopefully these guidelines will help:

  • Find your sweet spot: The hem of the band can end anywhere between hip bone and the top of the thigh, depending on the length of the top and how far it’s pulled down. Wearing the length a few inches above crotch point is a safe bet for shorter banded tops, but tunic styles need to be worn longer. Experiment with different banded top lengths, pulling each style both up and down until you find what works for you.
  • Get the volume right: The beauty of the banded top lies in its voluminous mid riff that floats away from the waist line. That’s the part that makes it forgiving and comfortable. Look for tops with the right amount of volume: too much pouf and you’ll feel like a balloon; not enough and we’re back to tops that cling. Also, knits in this style tend to drape better than wovens, so look for those first.

I’ve seen the right banded top work on many body types, heights and sizes: from rectangles, adorable apples, inverted triangles, hourglasses and pretty pears, to petites, plus sizes and everything in between. It really depends on the style of the top and the rest of the outfit. So don’t brush past these styles in stores with the preconceived notion that they are unflattering. Keep your style evolving and give the banded top a bash. You might be pleasantly surprised.


The four on the left with dark backgrounds are shorter banded tops worn at hip bone length. The two on the right with light backgrounds are longer banded tops worn past the hip bone and as far down as the thigh. Remember to wear something sleek at the bottom when you sport volume on top (stick to boot cuts, skinnies, clamdiggers, straight legs or pencil skirts).