I have worked for a company who produces shirts for many years. Trends come and go, colours fade in and out, collars and cuffs are on and then off again but really a shirt is a shirt and there will always be a place for them. At least until someone decrees that sweaters actually are acceptable under a suit jacket (think: Michael Douglas in Basic Instinct – are we agreed?) the crisp white shirt will periodically pop up on must-have lists.
Last year saw the rebirth of the open-necked silk blouse courtesy of Gillian Anderson in her role as police detective Stella Gibson in The Fall. Despite her curves (shirts don’t generally fit well over an ample bosom, it’s all about button placement) she looked a mixture of sexy, professional and softly feminine and that’s not an easy look to cook up. On the strength of the Anderson character’s blouse collection alone, I went straight out and bought myself a high street version. My friend Sarah did the same thing – her version was undoubtedly closer to the real thing than my machine washable one. Sarah isn’t a policewoman (although she’d make an excellent one) but being a director in the city means that like Detective Gibson she probably can’t avoid giving the occasional dressing down to a male colleague whilst perched cross legged on the edge of a desk, silk blouse artfully arranged to only hint at cleavage.
But I digress. This season the shirt has given way to the shirt dress which is everywhere and in just about every guise. It probably didn’t ever completely go away. From Twiggy’s self-designed boxy mini number in 1967 to Kate Middleton’s bright yellow Jaegar in 2012, this is one versatile dress that can be worn a hundred ways by most body types.
Certainly at Thomas Pink it’s a staple. Ever since the Sunday style magazine ‘You’ featured the inaugural Thomas Pink shirt dress on its cover only for it to sell out instantly, it has returned year after year. This season there is a distinct ‘Mad Men’ flavour to the TP dresses while over at Next and Banana Republic the influence is more ’70s.
At Hobbs, where the designers have upped the ante in recent years providing a great cut for curvy figures, they have borrowed from the Vivienne Westwood school of design with stripes and a caught-up skirt. Sophisticated worn with heels and a jacket, edgy worn open-necked with a vest top and trainers. Love it.
My final choice is the more relaxed offering from H&M, as ever at a rock bottom price. Part nightdress and part boyfriend’s dress shirt, this piece is cool, effortless and not too girly. If your body shape is more boyish, this is the one for you.
This simple piece is a modern classic and you can’t go far wrong with those. As I said, a shirt is a shirt is a shirt. Except for when it’s a dress.