The Millennial ‘Going Out Top’ Is Back. Here’s How to Wear It in 2023

going out top uni
Ray Mickshaw; Steve.Granitz; KMazur/getty images

I’m going to share a conversation that most millennials over the age of, say, 27 will probably recognize:

Friend 1: “What are you wearing to the Sigma Chi mixer tonight?”

Friend 2: “Jeans and a nice top!”

Friend 1: “Perfect. I was thinking the same.”

It was a nighttime outfit formula that defined a generation: jeans and a ‘going out top.’ Whether it was a simple black tube top accessorized with an inexplicably enormous belt, a silky camisole laden with sequins that you paired with your skinniest jeans or anything peplum, the going out top was a wardrobe staple that came to epitomize millennial cringe. One of my most egregious going out tops was a silky, hot pink and black animal print number I wore during my freshman year of college in 2009. (I’m sure there is photo evidence of said top in some Facebook album entitled “nights we’ll never remember with friends we’ll never forget,” but I’m too embarrassed to search for it too hard.)

It’s a bit jarring, then, to report that the going out top is back with a vengeance. Spend ten minutes in downtown Manhattan on a Saturday night and you’re sure to see a gaggle of Gen Z’ers in baggy jeans, going out tops, mini handbags and even kitten heels. But here’s the thing: These are not the going out tops of yore; these are chic, modern pieces that can look positively stylish. There are a few keys to wearing a going out top without looking like you’re headed to a Y2K theme party. Here are a few tips for wearing a going out top in 2023, plus some of our favorite options to shop right now.

going out top tucked in
Christian Vierig/getty images

Opt for Tucked-In or Cropped Tops Instead of Tunics

Many of the going out tops of the early aughts featured thigh-skimming hemlines that managed to make wearers look shorter. In 2023, stick to shorter tops or, if you are working with a longer hemline, tuck your shirt into your bottoms to elongate your whole silhouette.

going out top monochromatic
Edward Berthelot/getty images

Try a Top-to-Bottom Monochrome Fit

A low-stakes way to revisit the going out top is to match your top to your bottoms. Monochromatic dressing is one of our favorite tricks for looking put together without a ton of effort, and if you’re not sure about what pants to pair with a specific fancier top, coordinate the two pieces of your outfit and you’re good to go.  

going out top wide leg
Edward Berthelot/getty images

Save the Skinny Jeans for Another Day

There’s a time and a place for slim-fit jeans (no matter what Gen Z says), but pairing your favorite skinnies with a going out top is a surefire way to look like you’re channeling your 2006 self. Instead, wear your nicer tops with looser-fit bottoms, whether that’s baggy jeans or classic trousers.

sarah stiefvater

Wellness Director

Sarah Stiefvater is PureWow's Wellness Director. She's been at PureWow for ten years, and in that time has written and edited stories across all categories, but currently focuses...