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How to Wear a Tie-Waist Shirt

Tie-waist tops are unfairly typecast. 

Almost every time I see one on a mannequin, it's styled with cropped pants, a cardigan or an A-line skirt Betty Draper would push Sally under a bus for. No matter who makes the blouses, their labels might as well read "For Retrophiles Only." It's silly, since with a little strategic styling, those tops can shift into sartorial territories miles beyond the corner where pin-up girls and mid-century housewives hang out.

To prove it, we've rounded up five different outfits, only one of which is Mad Men-friendly. The rest would look more at home on ladies ranging from Ke$ha to Kate Moss. Either way, each is an easy way to try out the tie-waist look while keeping your proportions flattering—so ultimately, tying the hem in a simple knot might actually be the blouse's biggest challenge.

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To The Office

For a corporate look with a bit of charm, mix prints—like this pin-stripe top and wide stripe skirt combo. Just make sure the prints are in the same family, and keep accessories simple. (And button the shirt all the way up, if you want to look even more serious.)

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On a Date

Knotting the top right where it meets a full skirt draws attention to your natural waist and creates an instant hourglass shape. (Not to mention a polished, Talented Mr. Ripley look when paired with cat eye sunglasses and cap toe shoes.)

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At a Concert

With just a sliver of midriff showing, it's a tamer option than those floaty crop tops everyone else wears. Pick a punchy pattern and mix it with all your concert staples (sneakers, cutoffs, neon makeup), then grab your tickets and go.

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Weekend Brunch

Instead of a sundress, toss on brightly colored wide leg trousers and a tie-waist blouse. Pick a sleeveless top so you're not overwhelmed in flowy fabric, and knot it with as much or as little midriff showing as you want.

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Out to Dinner

Pairing tie-front tops with low-slung pants can be tricky, but choosing a longer, asymmetrically tied blouse helps. Its diagonal line will create movement instead of cutting your hips in half. Worn this way, it's a flattering, flirty alternative to a simple button-down.

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