24 May 2004
The archetypal shirt is aback this summer, but attending out for avant-garde variations, including corset-style fits and drawstring effects, says Hilary Alexander
The white shirt is usually fashion’s abundant divider: there are women who abrasion one and there are those who don’t. Sandra Howard, for example, looks like a White Shirt Woman, while Cherie Blair is apparently not. Rebecca Loos best absolutely is, but Victoria Beckham is absolutely not. Gwyneth Paltrow is, but not Madonna.
It is article to do with an affection to a accustomed style. White Shirt Woman is blessed to accumulate it simple, and is far added at home with a ponytail or a accurate bob, a admixture of composition and a brace of loafers than with beard extensions, blusher and fasten heels.
Or, at least, she was. This summer, however, the white shirt is bucking tradition. The abstract are still to be found, of course: Benetton, Lands’ End, East, Margaret Howell and Marks & Spencer accept all, as you ability expect, produced capricious versions of the archetypal white shirt. In cotton, linen or poplin, with accurate collars and cuffs and a on-up front, these are the array of white shirts you can abrasion tucked into skirts for work, or larboard blind out over jeans and circumscribed trousers at the weekend.
But there is additionally a array of added absorbing styles this season, abnormally aggressive by Victorian apparel drama, the blur Pirates of the Caribbean, the Fifties awakening and the Wild West – and they ability alike actuate the brand of Madonna and Kate Moss to accord the white shirt a try.
A acceptable compression of Lycra adds stretch-appeal to some styles; pin-tucks and contoured seaming add to the tighter, corset-like fit of others. Ruching, generally at the sides, agency that some shirts will sit aloof on the waist; while drawstring furnishings acquiesce others to be aggregate up to appearance off a bistered midriff.
Fifties-style versions can be wraparound, such as the Tommy Hilfiger white shirt at House of Fraser, or askance at the waist, over a brawl brim or pedal-pushers. A shirt with archetypal collar and revers can be slipped beneath a V-neck with a pleated brim for a adventurous attending or, as at Calvin Klein, apart over a white T-shirt for a added a feel. Sheer white shirts are appealing over ablaze bikinis.
One of the best approved white shirts this division is Tom Ford’s affection “cowgirl” appearance for Gucci. At £540, it is the Rolls-Royce of white shirts, but it is slinky, with a cone-shaped fit and a country-and-western bond outline and, as it is the aftermost white shirt Ford will anytime architecture for the Gucci label, it is additionally article of a collector’s item.
Karen Millen’s white shirt manages to amalgamate the attending of a archetypal with the cinch-you-in address of a corset, and is seamed and pin-tucked to fit the body, and fabricated from stretch-cotton with cap sleeves. Alike the basal George at Asda adaptation comes able with corsetry account in the anatomy of hook-and-eye fastenings from break to hem.
Precis Petit’s white shirt has a archetypal collar, but is abundant with ruching at the abandon and has wide, airship sleeves that tie with a drawstring at the wrist (£39.95, 0191 521 3888). The key white shirt in Marks & Spencer’s Autograph accumulating has a hardly aggressive feel via a aerial collar, attached with a metal D-ring, but is in stretch-cotton to accommodate a bigger fit.
Vintage mavens can seek out the absolute affair at shops such as Lunn Antiques on New Kind’s Road, London, which has an all-encompassing alternative of Edwardian and Victorian white shirts and blouses. Newer “antiques” accommodate Mulberry’s cotton/silk mix, Forties-style shirt with aloof sleeves and Peter Pan collar (£79, 020 7491 3900). Or attending out for Max & Co’s neo-Victorian, pin-tucked white linen shirt with applique panels, for £119, and DKNY’s Thirties-look, short-sleeved, affection shirt, with pin-tucks and accomplished with a bow-tie neck, for £129, both at Fenwick, W1 (020 7629 9161).
Bhs: abstract cotton, adapted shirt, three-quarter sleeves, £20; crinkle-polyester, three-quarter sleeve ‘Kelly’ blouse, £14, both sizes 10-20; 020 7262 3288
George at Asda: affection shirt, with hook-and-eye fastening, ruched detail, 8-20, £12; 0500 100 055
H&M: broderie anglaise, short-sleeve, round-collar shirt, 8-16, £19.99; 020 7323 2211
Jeff & Co: embroidered, fitted, linen shirt, hip-length, abbreviate sleeves, 10-20, £18, Sainsbury’s branches; 0800 636 262
Lands’ End: called linen, affection and affection amplitude with Coolmax shirts, different styles, 10-20, £26-£39; mail order: 0800 617 161
Margaret Howell: linen-voile shirt with tab/roll-up sleeves, application pocket, £175; cotton-poplin, bib-front, colossal grandad shirt, £165, both 8-14, Wigmore Street, W1; 020 7009 9009
Miss Selfridge: stretch-cotton shirt with big collar and cuffs, 6-16, £20; 0800 915 9900
Penny Plain: long-sleeved, blade-tucked, 32-in long, affection shirt or three-quarter-sleeve, pin-tuck, affection voile shirt, both £34.95, 10-26; Dover Street, W1 and branches; mail order: 0870 122 1224
House of Fraser: Linea’s linen, loose, boxy, long-sleeved shirt, 8-16, £35; DKNY’s cotton, double-cuffed archetypal shirt, s-l, £120; Tommy Hilfiger’s cotton, wrap-around, long-sleeved shirt, 8-16, £70; above branches nationwide; 020 7963 2000
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