Not Giving a Shirt

I've never gone mad for shirts, indeed who has? It's a button-down buttoned-up synonym for disappointment. They're the antithesis of cool and comfortable (no easy-breezy kaftans here), symbolising form and functionality instead. They are corporations and school uniforms. Say 'Shirt' and images float past of wanker-bankers loosening their top buttons to free their third chins after a particularly fraught index-linked bond re-evaluation or pimpled school-boys seeing how long it will take before they're told to roll their sleeves down. (It's interesting that both these situations see the wearer removing themselves from the shirt, distancing themselves as far as possible. The shirt is basically the party from which you absent yourself to go to the toilet, just for a sit-down.)

Until about 3 months ago I'd never had a desk job, and so shirts were (understandably, given how strongly I clearly feel about them) not a part of my fashion vocab- the Inuits have fifty words for snow, I have fifty versions of roll-necks- but as far as the button-downs went, I couldn't have given a shirt.

But (as so often happens in FashLand) a shift, subtle but seismic, was occurring. Shirts were mutating and expanding, shaking off the restrictive collar 'n' cuff shackles that had held them hostage in boardrooms and playgrounds for so long. Before anyone could stop it, the humble shirt began extrapolating itself into something downright desirable. It was becoming a positive requirement of any self-respecting fashion victim.

And I can understand why we might want or need a little functionality in our lives. In a world of pube-y backless Gucci loafers, fur erupting out of the heel like the most hapless bikini-wax scheduler ever and jumpers emblazoned with SEX (thanks Bella Freud, you absolute minx), perhaps a cheeky button-down is just the thing. Maybe we're're all secretly craving something norm-core and nourishing; the super-grain salad after a weekend of eating Snickers sandwiches. It's quietly subversive precisely because it isn't made of neoprene or shouting expletives at you. Clever.

Of course annoyingly, you can't just dust off your old school garms and have done, it's a bit more delicate than that. (Obviously- since when has 'Fashion' ever passed up an opportunity to make you buy a new iteration of something you already own? Never, that's when.) These shirts are bigger and better. They are (whisper it) pretty cool, and (gasp) not uncomfortable. (At least nowhere near as uncomfortable as screaming 'SEX' at your Granny with your knitwear over bank-holiday muffins).

They share DNA with the classic buttoned, collared, cuffed version but these new ones are extra cheese and guac on the side. They have ruffles or flounces, misaligned buttons or off-the-shoulder tendencies and crucially CUFFS THAT JUST WON'T QUIT. Treat as per normal and team it up with smart trousers and heels and you're practically Net-a-Porter head-office-ready. Jeans and trainers work just as well, pleasingly. (Gingham) skirt and maybe even flatforms too? Holy moly!

The proportions can tend towards the dicey here, so I am looking for elements of the figure-hugging among the acres of excess fabric. (A nipped in waist, say, like this sassy dancing-lady-emoji red number, or an otherwise classical cut.) Alternatively, you could pair your exciting new voluminous shirting with a slimmer-cut bottom half. Or not. The bottom line is that they're versatile, fun and give nice, effortlessly smart Spring/Summer outfits without veering into Dweeb from Accounting territory. So when the rest of fashion gives you relentless bad-boy ball-clanging, maybe it's better to just get down and shirty.

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