You don’t need me to bang on about the essential nature of a classic white shirt. We all know they’re one of those fashion heroes that we should all have in our forever-wardrobes. What you may not know is how very versatile they can be, that they now come in more interesting and contemporary silhouettes, and that System of Motion have the best one’s going.
Before Christmas they very kindly let me pick out a shirt from their range. It wasn’t an easy decision – they all had their own charms and specific plus points – but I opted for the Paul. The best thing about this style is that it offers two looks in one (and this is even before you’ve styled it in a gazillion different ways). With it’s unique button feature on the cuff, the sleeve can be transformed from oversized to slim in two easy steps. I also love the exaggerated shoulder and larger lapel, the unpredictable shape makes it more interesting than the average, and more of a statement piece.
I think shirts like this look their classic best worn simply, without fuss, so most of it’s life will be spent paired with various slacks and suit trousers. I have some bright sky-blue suit trousers I can’t wait to team it with, but today I opted for these mooch-friendly pinstripe ones, with their wonderful elasticated waist. After Christmas I think we all have a restored fondness for bottoms that have give and stretch, don’t we?
But how else will I sport this shirt over the coming year?
Something about the concept of dungarees immediately gives an element of cuteness to an outfit. I guess we can’t help but think of childlike ensembles like baby-grows and all-in-ones when we see them, even if they exist in a more mature guise. I have quite a few now, the tight skinny denim ones that are more about style than function and comfortability (no Meryl Streep style jumping on beds with those), and ones like these loose-fitting pinstripe ones that manage to nod to fashion while still being a complete joy to wear. I throw these on when I’m in need of something ultimately practical and easy to wear (no areas of chaffing, no material that drags in puddles, no fastenings that are difficult for cold hands), but for when I still want to look like I’ve still had some element of style in mind when dressing in the morning.
I love to have an oversized or billowing sleeve too because it gives an outfit an effortless feel. It’s easy to achieve a certain level of girly-ness when wearing body-con or form fitting outfits, but when you manage to pull off the same kittenish effect while wearing something baggy it feels a bit cooler, less try-hard somehow.
I don’t know why, I’m sure it’s because of a film reference I’ve absorbed unknowingly, but I always feel like a cool bohemian artist when I wear them. I imagine I might have paintbrushes in the pockets, and a a few paint hand marks on my thighs. I might have a pencil keeping my hair in a bun that I’ll unleash when the attractive male lead comes by the studio.
For daring or out-there dressers the concept of wearing a plain white shirt might be a bit unappealing. But let me present this classic to you in a new way. Think of it like a substantial area of blank canvas that will allow you to run riot with colour and pattern elsewhere on your body. It won’t distract or compete, but let those more showy elements shine even brighter. Also keep in mind that by going for the ‘Paul’ shirt, with it’s modern twist, it mean’s your blank canvas is far from mundane.
I decided to go for my new favourite animal print baker boy hat to add an element of fun, pattern and colour, but there’s plenty of way’s to introduce some wacky-ness, or something less traditional in style.
If you’re a bit more of a raunchy dresser, or have an impressive array of coloured bras, you could have then shirt gaping open a bit and revealing a hint of your bright undergarment. You could team with some statement jewellery – one that rests on your collar bone would look particularly great. With this wider and shorter sleeve length some sort of cuff style bracelet would look perfectly chic.
One of my favourite looks, which I’m sure you’ll see on my Instagram feed soon, is teaming a classic shirt with 90’s style mom jeans in a medium blue (with some subtle distressing, not the 50 % exposed leg thing that’s all the rage right now) and completing the look with a pair of statement ankle boots. I have some rather fabulous animal print Zara ones (are you starting to see a theme emerge?), I also have some pretty groovy (is it even legal to use this word in 2017?) spacey silver ones from New Look. The fact that the buttons are neutral in their simple white pearlescent’s, means that you can go for silver or gold in terms of your accessories and fixtures and fittings, which is handy.
One of my favourite parts of styling is layering. Seeing the outfit possibilities mount up is exciting for someone who loves fashion, but who also has an limited budget. Having classic pieces in your wardrobe that can work in multiple ways, tap into different style movements, AND remain wearable all year round, are very worthwhile purchases. Here I teamed over a tartan maxi dress. I usually wear this dress with grunge in mind, teaming with Dr. Marten’s and a slouchy cardi. By tying this shirt over the top it changes it’s tone completely. The look is a bit fresher and has more of a french aesthetic. Of course you can layer over a white vest top for a pure and clean look, or choose a bold coloured tee or polo neck to wear underneath to add a pop of colour and keep you weather appropriate.
Many of us ladies aren’t fond of our upper arms – I find it very unfair that I not only have the puniest arms of all time, they also have a flap an award winning carrier pigeon would be proud of. Before I digress into self loathing, my point is that shirts make for an ideal more lightweight alternative for upper-arm coverage. Great for milder weather when your favourite cardi is a bit too heavy-duty.
As you guys know I’ve been loving suiting for the last year, choosing a two piece for all the premieres instead of dresses. I just feel more like myself in a suit, I guess it taps into my innate tomboy tendencies. I also find it hard to always be sleek and elegant under pressure so having my shaky limbs covered by tailored fabric, with pockets to keep my awkward hands hidden, helps me at least appear cool, calm and collected.
As a music fan I thought I’d tap into a look inspired by a snappy performer, this time Brandon Flowers of The Killers. During the Sam’s Town era, when he had shorter hair and that slightly creepy moustache, he often wore a shirt with a black ribbon instead of a normal tye. He’d team it with skinny trousers and a waistcoat and pointy cuban boots. I’d personally team this with a tuxedo blazer and my favourite cigarette trousers for that statement masculine aesthetic. The ideal look is Alexa Chung at the Met Gala 2010 – have a google.
Bikini Cover Up
I wanted to back up my earlier point about the the all year round nature of wardrobe favourites like a classic white shirt. It’s why they’re considered one of those must have staples, and why it’s worth investing in a good quality one that will stand a lot of wear, and in turn a lot of washes.
When I think of shirts worn in this way I think of film and TV shows set in the Hamptons. Think ‘Something’s Gotta Give’ or when my beloved sisters in Sex and The City visited, minus the crabs. I’ve just started watching Dawsons Creek from the beginning because I was missing that feeling of being obsessed with someone, and knew my love for Joshua Jackson would likely be ignited again. I also thought it would be a nice way to reconnect with my youth, which is becoming an all too distant memory, as you can tell from my use of the word groovy. Little Joey Potter loved the bikini/shirt combo, often rushing up from the creek to the ladder outside Dawson’s bedroom, with the innocent shirt teasing her evolving womanhood underneath. By the way when we watched it the first time round, were we aware of how annoying Dawson really was? It was surely always about Pacey, no?
So I hope that’s given you some idea’s and reminded you why the humble white shirt has earned it’s hero status. Make sure you head to System of Motion’s website if you’re looking to invest in a quality shirt. They have a great array of styles to choose from, including adorable shirt dresses, so there’s an option for every preference. If you do add something to you’re shopping bag, don’t forget to add my discount code for £10 perfect off the purchase.
DISCOUNT CODE: SOPHIE10
P.S Sorry for lack of full length outfits. I had to shoot all of these myself using a tripod and the wifi remote control, so wasn’t able to position the camera in portrait mode. Keep an eye on my Instagram where I’ll post full length looks featuring this shirt soon!