Shirt cir­cuit

Fash­ion’s most sur­pris­ing star is mak­ing a se­ri­ous im­pact this sea­son. Francesca Fearon re­dis­cov­ers its ver­sa­til­ity

The Jewish Chronicle - JC Magazine - - Fashion -

AT THE fash­ion shows last Septem­ber it was strik­ing how many fash­ion edi­tors had taken to wear­ing a but­toned-up shirt with the tai­lored col­lar peek­ing out from the jacket of a trouser suit or a turtle­neck sweater. The look was neat, al­most prim, but the in­jec­tion of some bright colour, a slick of lip­stick and a pair of sun­glasses made it look mod­ern and glam­orous in an an­drog­y­nous way, rather than seem­ing dowdy and Miss Brodie-ish.

The re­turn of the trouser suit and now the crisply tai­lored shirt is yet an­other ex­am­ple of women ap­ing the time­less el­e­gance of menswear. The peren­nial ap­peal of the white shirt is the fact that it is crisp, nonon­sense and es­sen­tially non-gir­lie, and there is a real mood for non­girl­ish looks around at the moment. A shirt gives the air of author­ity, but is also im­mensely flat­ter­ing.

The late Ital­ian de­signer Gian­franco Ferre was a great ad­vo­ca­tor of white shirts, be­cause he felt the white shirt re­flected light so flat­ter­ingly on the wearer’s face. He was renowned for his vo­lu­mi­nous cot­ton, silk and or­ganza shirts, which he paired with black leather in his col­lec­tions.

The Amer­i­can de­signer Carolina Her­rera is sim­i­larly en­am­oured of this classy ba­sic and has made the white shirt a must-have piece in many of her col­lec­tions over the past 30 years. In fact it is sym­bolic of her per­sonal style. “They have al­ways been

part of my life. They make me feel se­cure,” says the de­signer. “When I don’t know what to wear, I choose a white shirt. I love them and find them fas­ci­nat­ing; and they can be worn in many dif­fer­ent ways.”

A white shirt makes an im­pact with or with­out jew­ellery; it looks crisp with jeans, or so­phis­ti­cated worn with a skirt, es­pe­cially an ele­gant pen­cil style; it can also work well for spe­cial oc­ca­sions. Try putting a starched white shirt with a big ball skirt. The ef­fect is fab­u­lous and in­sou­ciant, as if you don’t want to try too hard. In her spring CH col­lec­tion, Her­rera has white shirts with bow neck­lines and col­lar­less styles with slashed sleeves that tie off at the el­bow, or a neat pin-tucked din­ner shirt style that would look as good with jeans as it does with a tuxedo.

Try a white shirt with a big ball skirt for a fab­u­lously in­sou­ciant ef­fect

Such is the ver­sa­til­ity of a white shirt that it can also look a bit rock ’n’ roll with torn jeans and a tai­lored black Spencer jacket. A trawl along the men’s shirt­mak­ers in Jermyn Street will re­veal a few that also cut for women, Thomas Pink and Charles Tyrwhitt among them. A women’s cut is shaped and much closer to the body than a man’s style and some­times in­cor­po­rates some stretch. Most of the cot­ton shirts are in the £80 bracket.

Thomas Pink adopts a cur­rent styling tip from menswear with the clas­sic dou­ble cuff, in plain and pin­stripe. There are also colours like elec­tric blue and faded pinks for sum­mer, some polka dots and also silk styles. Bear in mind that a starched shirt can look cool and smart in a heat­wave.

Among the new gen­er­a­tion of Lon­don­fash­ion­de­sign­er­sisPalmer// Hard­ing, whose trade­mark is state­ment shirts for men and women. Started by Levi Palmer and Matthew Hard­ing a few sea­sons ago, the la­bel is build­ing a strong fan base for its shirts, which range from aus­tere to ro­man­tic.

“We work a lot on the cut­ting, cre­at­ing a looser shoul­der, but a slim waist,” says Matthew Hard­ing. The pair have devel­oped tai­lored vents for cuffs and a num­ber of fin­ishes

for col­lars. There is an al­lur­ing play of sheer and opaque — quite a trend this sea­son — mix­ing pan­els of cot­ton and or­ganza. And they have also in­tro­duced colour for the first time, with cinnabar or­ange.

A mod­ern clas­sic brand is Equip­ment — pop­u­lar with the de­part­ments stores and on­line re­tail­ers such as Net-à-Porter. Equip­ment was launched in 1976 by Chris­tian Restoin, part­ner of uber-stylist and former French Vogue ed­i­tor Carine Roit­feld. His con­cept was to take a men’s clas­sic and re­vamp it for women by giv­ing it glam ap­peal. He drew in­spi­ra­tion from Amer­i­can films of the 1950s and stars such as Kather­ine Hep­burn and Lau­ren Ba­call (who be­came a client) cre­at­ing shirts in lux­ury fab­rics that had drape, but were func­tional — fea­tur­ing his sig­na­ture breast pock­ets.

The com­pany is now part of Serge Azria’s em­pire — Azria also owns the pre­mium denim brand Cur­rent/ El­liott. The new col­lec­tion of­fers a pro­fu­sion of styles that range from £230 to £280 and come in washed silk and crêpe de chine. There is lots of bold colour — yel­low, green and mono­chrome are par­tic­u­larly on­trend at the moment — and some tiny pat­terns. Whether worn with jeans or a smart skirt, a tai­lored shirt will def­i­nitely add some gravitas to your wardrobe this sea­son.

Se­ri­ously smart shirt from CH by Carolina Her­rera £180

Thomas Pink Sap­phire silk shirt £135

Crisp cut-outs and pe­plum CH by Caro­line Her­rera £265

Thomas Pink An­nette ca­sual shirt £79

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