A wardrobe icon: the white shirt
We all know that children and shopping don’t mix but it was half term and I just wanted to pop into one shop very quickly. It was an ill-advised idea and I paid for it. Cue two children, who despite several requests to sit still for five minutes and despite being physically placed on said chairs on multiple occasions, were rolling around and using a slight incline in the shop’s floor as a makeshift slide to push each other down, playing hide and seek in the rails of clothing and stomping around in various heeled boots. The shame. And the anger. Still, I did manage to grab a pair of boots half price in the sale at £55 from Cara in Oxford (is a lovely shop with great boots and there are several others around and about so check them out online). However, the shopping gods were clearly on the side of the kids, as when I got home I discovered that one boot was a 36 and the other was a 37. Serves me right obviously for subjecting them to the torture of shoe shopping for someone else. Hoping to be reunited with a full pair later this week.
So on to the white shirt, or maybe more accurately blouse. Sounds very old-fashioned but it is, in fact, another one of those versatile and effortlessly elegant pieces that you need to have in your wardrobe irrespective of the season. Admittedly, it too is subject to the whims of fashion and this season, the pussybow is out there as a key style. Not my absolute favourite if it is worn close up to the neck – bit Maggie Thatcher – but you can wear it in a more relaxed way as in this shoot from Reiss. Irritatingly, this Tatou blouse £125 is not available yet but the styling is perfect. Great for work and for play.
They also have this Carey blouse £145 – another one which is coming soon. If you see them flat on the site, buttoned up, then they loose their appeal and look very mumsy. But on the body, they scream siren, not pensioner. So watch this space for these arrivals as they look lovely.
If you actually want to buy a white shirt now, then Whistles has options – bows and all. Starting off with their Florance Bow Detail Blouse £130. Yes it is ivory silk and yes it is dry clean, so this is not for time with sticky fingered or snotty nosed kids.
I definitely prefer their Celia Blouse £130 as its cleaner lines appeal to my taste. Plus v necklines are always the most slimming you can go for. This is washed silk so has a more matt look to it which I also prefer to a high shine silk. Depending on your shape, this would also work tucked in to skirts and trousers for the office.
ME+EM have definitely got the white shirt covered with all sorts of options. Pussybow £148 in silk crepe de chine – check. If you are worrying that it is styled with a pair of joggers, it isn’t. These side stripe trousers are the thing this season, but if you aren’t convinced then forgo the go-faster stripes and opt for a simple black or navy trouser.
Their Silk Eyelash Trim Blouse £165 is another nice style with delicate detailing down the front. Not so great if you are busty – I would go for the simplest of styles and definitely with a v neck.
ME+EM have also understood the importance of layering and so have created a whole range of closer fitting styles in a viscose jersey crepe that you can just, well, layer. So go for a machine washable jersey at a more reasonable price if you want a piece to layer underneath knitwear – very modern and practical: Long Layering Shirt £98.
Hush has a nice Essential Silk Blouse £130 that is very simple and elegant. Not sure I would be pairing mine with shorts – thinking sun-cream and silk don’t mix.
If you want high street prices then Massimo Dutti has this 100% Silk Dress Shirt for £49.95. It is dry clean too but it is also under £50.
Banana Republic has this Tie Front blouse for £49.50. I was about to say there are two rules when it comes to the white blouse: don’t go too white or too yellowy, and don’t go polyester unless you want to look like a pair of net curtains, but this one is a polyester and possibly a bit white. However, I think this works because it is a crepe rather than a chiffon polyester ie textured versus flat.
Now if all these feel too lady, a crisp white shirt is also a perfect option that you can wear casually and at the office. I vey much like Zara’s shirts because they bring a nice bit of modernity to what can be a fairly traditional piece of clothing. I have this style: Shirt with Pleated Back £19.99 which I love because it can layer very easily under my sweaters now but once the sun is out, boyfriend jeans and trainers are all you need.
Whether you go for ladylike or androgynous, you will be right as long as it’s white. Just don’t take the children shopping with you to buy it.