White It Is!

Brinda Gill takes a look at the clas­sic white shirt that of­fers it­self to myr­iad pos­si­bil­i­ties for de­sign­ers to ex­press their creativ­ity and is al­ways in fash­ion!

Apparel - - Contents -

A look at the clas­s­icc white shirt that never goes out of style tyle

“Women think of all colours ex­cept the ab­sence of col­colour. I have said that black has it all. White too. Their beauty is ab­so­lute. It is tthe per­fect har­mony,” said iconic French dde­signer Coco Chanel (1883-1971), ffounder of the fash­ion brand ChaneChanel, who was renowned for the el­e­gant ssim­plic­ity and com­fort of her gar­men­gar­ments. True to her words, the white shishirt presents it­self as a sim­ple and stystylish clas­sic. Con­ser­va­tive or de­signedesigner, plain or em­bel­lished with self-fab­fab­ric or colour pat­terns, worn ca­su­ally with jeans or with a suit, by women (as a shishirt or blouse/top) and men, across all age grogroups, the white shirt seems to be a clas­sic, tim­time­less favourite.


Over the course of his­tory, dif­fer­ent colours have taken on dif­fer­ent mean­ings and sym­bol­isms. White came to sym­bol­ise pu­rity (as it would show any mark or stain on it), and later took on as­so­ci­a­tions of an up­per class, con­fi­dence and style in the West. The lat­ter as­so­ci­a­tions are linked to the ef­fort re­quired to wear and main­tain white at­tire as it meant hav­ing some­one to wash the gar­ment, a ser­vice that could typ­i­cally be af­forded by the well-off.

In the first half of the 20th cen­tury, the term ‘white-col­lar work’ came to be used to de­scribe pro­fes­sion­als who drew a salary vis-à-vis ‘bluecol­lar work­ers’ who typ­i­cally did man­ual work and drew a wage. With ac­tors and ac­tresses tak­ing to wear­ing a white shirt in about the mid-20th cen­tury, it got a bit of star­dust on it. In this way, wear­ing a white shirt came to be as­so­ci­ated with style, re­fine­ment, a gen­teel life, el­e­gance and con­fi­dence. Even to­day, the white shirt re­mains a read­ily ac­cepted choice for work wear; it is also the dress code/uni­form for some pro­fes­sions and school stu­dents.


“White is a clas­sic, peace­ful, bold and age­less colour. It is ver­sa­tile and acts like an an­chor to your look. Be it prints, tex­tures, colour-blocks or stripes, white looks great when paired with al­most any­thing. It is per­fect for the day when teamed with pas­tel shades and can eas­ily be worn in the evening with a lit­tle twist. It is el­e­gant and funky at the same time. With pleats, tex­tures, quilt­ing, ruf­fles, in prints; a white shirt has an elite as well as ef­fort­lessly ca­sual look to it, depend­ing on how it’s styled,” says Punebased de­signer Nivedita Sa­boo.



A white shirt may sound plain; how­ever, it has myr­iad pos­si­bil­i­ties in terms of de­sign­ing it as well as team­ing it up with dif­fer­ent gar­ments such as a skirt, trousers, jeans, shorts, car­goes, a jacket, a camisole or a suit. While a reg­u­lar col­lared white shirt is a state­ment in sim­plic­ity, its style quo­tient can be upped by de­sign­ing it dif­fer­ently–a dis­tinct fit, an asym­met­ri­cal cut, a dif­fer­ent col­lar style/ neck­line, a nov­elty yoke, waist sup­pres­sion, with frills/ruf­fles, with pin tucks or pleats to cre­ate tex­ture, with at­trac­tive sleeves such as bell sleeves, with an in­ter­est­ing placket (per­haps with a flounce), pock­ets and/or but­tons/but­ton studs, with del­i­cate lace and/or rib­bons, as a tube top or wrap shirt or a shirt dress. Adding an­other de­sign el­e­ment is sur­face dec­o­ra­tion that could be em­broi­dery, print­ing, paint­ing, smock­ing in white and/or stitch­ing me­tal el­e­ments for an un­der­stated look or de­sign­ing a lace/crochet top. And the choice of fab­rics–from breath­able cot­ton to sheer or­ganza, fluid and flow­ing silk, lus­trous satin–adds to the look and fall of the gar­ment.


Though lim­ited by its colour, the white shirt of­fers it­self as a can­vas for de­sign­ers to ex­press their creativ­ity. “We’ve rein­vented the clas­sic white shirt in our brand’s sig­na­ture styles with de­tails that rep­re­sent edgy power dress­ing. In menswear, we cre­ate a tai­lored ex­pe­ri­ence for our cus­tomers. Our white shirts are ex­tremely de­tail-ori­ented and made to mea­sure. Its spe­cialty is in the pat­tern­mak­ing and tex­tur­i­sa­tion in each shirt that we de­sign and man­u­fac­ture at our ate­lier. The de­tail in per­fec­tion lies in the cut and sew tech­niques, col­lars, cuffs and but­tons which can ef­fort­lessly come through in a white shirt. A Nivedita Sa­boo Cou­ture white shirt can look classy, ca­sual and dressy all at the same time,” says Nivedita. “In women’s wear, a white shirt does not only work as a for­mal piece of cloth­ing, but it can also be paired, mixed and matched with tra­di­tional out­fits. It can be worn with a lehenga, sari, in­side a suit or over a dress. What we cre­ate for women’s wear is a ver­sa­tile white shirt that can take you from dusk to dawn, con­tem­po­rary to tra­di­tional, with com­plete ease.”



De­sign­ers are de­sign­ing white shirts with cot­ton fab­rics that are em­bel­lished with white em­broem­broi­dery and ap­pliqué, with white printed mo­tifs or wo­ven with white mo­tifs. Chikankari– the hand em­broi­dery syn­ony­mous with Luc­know and of­ten re­ferred to as ‘white work’–is an em­broi­dery style tthat tra­di­tion­ally in­volves white em­broi­dery on wh­white fab­ric. A va­ri­ety of stitches are worked on the fab­ric to cre­ate dif­fer­ent tex­tu­ral and vis­ual ef­fect­ef­fects; some of these stitches are worked on the sur­fac­sur­face of the fab­ric, some from the re­verse, while oth­ers pull at the threads to cre­ate a del­i­cate net. In ddif­fer­ent parts of the coun­try, skilled ar­ti­sans weaweave tex­tiles bear­ing mo­tifs and pat­terns. Of thes­these, white-on-white tex­tiles are in­fused with elegel­e­gance. In a trib­ute to these fine tex­tiles are poe­po­etic men­tions in an­cient In­dian nar­ra­tives thathat de­scribe them as be­ing as light as mmist, as del­i­cate as the vapours of milk, as ttrans­par­ent as wo­ven air or run­ning wa­ter! Per­haps of all the In­dian tex­tiles, these trib­utes could be for the light, airy and ethe­real muslins that are wo­ven with fine hand-spun muslin yarns (that have a count above 100). The fine­ness of the yarns re­sults in a fab­ric that is soft to touch and aal­most translu­cent. Weavers weave del­i­cate mmo­tifs in­fus­ing the tex­tiles with beauty. When tthe mo­tifs are wo­ven with sup­ple­men­tary ya­yarn that is slightly thicker (than the weft and war­warp yarn), the mo­tifs al­most ap­pear opaque and aas if float­ing on the ground fab­ric.


Seem­ingly Se sim­ple, the white shirt yet of­fers am­ple am style op­tions in terms of team­ing it with w ac­ces­sories and con­trast­ing it with other gar­ments ga such as light-coloured trousers (and tie for fo men) for an un­der­stated look or dark-coloured trousers tro (and tie for men) for a more con­trast­ing look. lo “To me, white is time­less, tran­si­tional and is a ba­sic wardrobe shade for all, be it men or women. w In menswear, white is a go-to colour for any an oc­ca­sion. White can be styled for a for­mal event ev with a tone-on-tone white shirt and trousers teamed te with a blazer in al­most any shade. For a ca­sual ca day out, pair your white shirt with jeans or chi­nos. For re­sort wear, you can style your white shirt with a pair of shorts or three-fourths. You can in­cor­po­rate white in your look with dif­fer­ent colour schemes and pal­ettes depend­ing on the oc­ca­sion,” says Nivedita.

She adds that in women’s wear, a white shirt serves as a colour that breaks through the clut­ter while mak­ing the wearer look grace­ful at the same time. “It gives you a can­vas to play around with lay­er­ing, ac­ces­sories and even with makeup. You can opt for a min­i­mal­is­tic look by keep­ing it sim­ple yet el­e­gant in a plain, white, off shoul­der or cold shoul­der shirt style. Opt for ruf­fles, frills and flounces for a lun­cheon. You can ac­ces­sorise with pearls, di­a­mond or mag­i­cal baubles in al­most any colour.”


Adding an­other facet to the white shirt is the white shirt in keep­ing with the style quo­tient of the shirt dress. “The shirt dress is a ver­sa­tile piece, which suits ev­ery body type and can be de­signed for any oc­ca­sion. Depend­ing on the sea­son, this par­tic­u­lar gar­ment can be wo­ven in fab­rics to suit the wearer’s needs. It is a beau­ti­ful com­bi­na­tion of com­fort and style, mak­ing it a func­tional piece of cloth­ing for re­sort wear, work wear and even a ca­sual day out,” says Nivedita of the white shirt dress.

She says that it can be ac­cen­tu­ated by adding a few el­e­ments such as leather de­tail­ing at the pock­ets and ap­pliqué work that can make an oth­er­wise sim­ple look, edgy. “A white shirt dress in in­tri­cately hand­crafted sub­tle em­broi­dery is a must-have to make a state­ment. Flo­ral em­broi­dery and de­tail­ing can make an oth­er­wise sim­ple shirt dress stylish. For a vin­tage in­spired sil­hou­ette, opt for a white shirt dress with a belt that clinches the waist and ac­cen­tu­ates the fig­ure. In­vest in linen, silk and chif­fon shirt dresses in dif­fer­ent neck­lines, shoul­ders and sleeves. It is per­fect for all sea­sons and can be worn al­most any­where.”

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