Among the SS16 trends we mentioned in our blog earlier this month was the crisp cotton shirt. We’ve pulled together a selection of ways to wear your cotton shirt this season. If you’re tempted to create a spring classic for yourself, then feel free to riffle through our crisp cotton shirt fabric offerings.
What we love about this trend isn’t just the classic simplicity it evokes. It’s the ability of a trend that sounds as staid as could be, to inspire such a wide variety of stylings. In its purest form, the crisp cotton shirt would be made from a traditional masculine shirting fabric, probably with a stripe, equipped with collar, cuffs and buttons down the front. What we’ve seen on the street, the fashion press and the catwalks however, are riffs on that most restrained of garments. The fashion press is alive with shirting experiments, the apparent result of a bunch of fashion students let loose in a branch of Tyrwhitts. Granted, wearing your shirt backwards as spotted (apparently) in Milan last autumn and then in this month’s Vogue with a UniQlo classic, isn’t a look that everyone could work.
However we rather like that high front/deep back look (and no – not just because it’s reminiscent of all those backwards-facing 50s twinsets we remember rocking in the early 1980s). Other approaches in the press have seen oversized men’s shorts being twisted, re-buttoned diagonally and generally being mucked about with.
The new M&S ‘Archive by Alexa’ collection has its share of cotton shirts. We probably share Jess Cartner-Morley’s misgivings about actually wearing the early-80s-styled pie-crust blouse that has popped up in the headlines.
We’ve been hearing a lot about the resurgence of the ruffle this season but that piecrust collar isn’t convincing us yet – and that yoke is uncomfortably close to one we remember from an ‘O’ Level needlework dressing gown. We think we’re with Hadley Freeman when she says you probably have to look like Alexa Chung to make that blouse look good – and it won’t work in reverse. Feel free to persuade us otherwise.
Alexa has thankfully come up with styles which we think are simpler and more versatile such as the M&S collection’s ‘Edna’ tunic.
We confess we’d be inclined to find something other than just pants and boots to wear with it – but that being said, we’re considering the following two patterns as ones with which we might achieve a similar look:
You’d need to play with cuffs, pockets and length to suit your heart’s desire but we don’t think they’ll be too much of an obstacle.
If you’re aiming to emulate these classic stylings then we suggest you might want to take a look at these patterns. The first is a basic long-sleeved shirt in a more relaxed cut…
…whilst the ‘Emily’ blouse below is a more fitted design.
We haven’t tested these but we think they look like good basic designs that will bring a classic look to your wardrobe.
Of course you could decide to take your shirt-making down a vintage route – this image of Elizabeth Taylor from 1950 shows just how striking a simple, semi-fitted shirt can be.
We used New Look pattern 6598 for the blouse in our trouser blog earlier this year. We found the sizing and styling were spot on (although on that occasion our choice of fabric couldn’t have been further from a traditional shirting)
We also have designs on Simplicity Pattern 1590 although it’s still in our making queue. If you’ve used it then do let us know how you got on.
‘Non-shirt’ shirting options
Another option would be to use a classic shirting fabric for a much simpler top, as we did with the ‘Sleeveless shell top’ pattern from the 2015 GBSB book.
We thought it was just the thing for spring – and we liked the old-school simplicity of the design, especially the facings.
Inevitably we couldn’t resist a bit of a fiddle with the design. Aiming for a less ‘boxy’ look, we lengthened it and rotated the darts to a more angled French dart position. We also raised and widened the neckline to a more boat-neck design. That’s the beauty of a classic, simple design like this shell top – you can fiddle to your heart’s content without risking too much in terms of time or fabric (just a metre, in case you were wondering).
You could also try other variations on the shell top such as the ‘Orla’ shift top from Tilly and the Buttons…
…or the simple, fresh and airy look of BurdaStyle’s wrapped blouse.
Over to you!
We’d love to hear about any shirty aspirations that you might have – please do keep your pictures coming so we can see what you’re up to! Meanwhile we’ll be adding more ideas to our Pinterest boards as the season progresses. Stay cool…