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!
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.
SYMBOLISM AAND STYLE
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.
CLASSIC AND VERSATILE
“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 SHIRTRT MAY SOUND PLAIN; HOWEVER, IT HAS MYRIAD POSSIBILITIES IN TERMS OF DESIGNING IT AS WELL AS TEAMING IT UP WITH DIFFERENT GARMENTS.
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.”
THOUGH LIMITED BY ITS COLOUR, THE WHITE SHIRT OFFERS ITSELF AS A CANVAS FOR DESIGNERS TO EXPRESS THEIR CREATIVITY.
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.
FOR F MEN AND WOMEN
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.”
WHITE SHIRT DRESS
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.”