The blue shirt: How a workday classic became a statement piece
The classic blue shirt has had a modern makeover, which can take you from the office straight to the dance floor
The blue shirt has always been a stealth workday classic - less waitress-y and more flattering than white. But, if a simple button down gets you down, then be charmed by the next generation of offerings, which feature heady details such as embellishments, frills, cut-outs, appliqué and even patchwork to boot.
On the autumn/winter 16 catwalks, this tribe of new blue shirts featured heavily, with Jacquemus opting for cut-outs and extra long sleeves, Vetements going oversized, and Palmer//Harding's blue V-neck offering with cow-hide tiled cuffs, which are detachable and can be added to any of their long-sleeved shirts (nifty, no?).
"Shirting was an opportunity to bring creativity to a versatile piece that applies to all aspects of a woman's life, from work to event dressing," say the Central St Martins-trained, London-based design duo, Levi Palmer and Matthew Harding, who are known for their directional shirting.
Palmer//Harding are to launch a collaboration with John Lewis next month, which sees the label combine their signature over-sized and asymmetric shirts with the retailer's slightly more accessible price points (the shirts will be around £100).
Caroline Issa, fashion director at 'Tank' magazine and avid blue shirt-wearer, notes that these classic-with-a-twist shirts "have that element of surprise but still won't be too crazy for boardrooms".
Whether that surprise is a contrasting collar and cuffs combo, or origami-style folding worthy of trophies, the aesthetic of the simple blue shirt is fast evolving.
The blue shirt 2.0 is being backed heavily by Net-a-Porter, which has increased its buy since last season, which saw sales double compared with the season before. It is currently stocking 39 blue shirt styles, including an excellent short-sleeved embroidered number by Tory Burch. Its most popular design is the over-sized style.
"We believe our strong sales for over-sized striped blue shirts are down to the ease and practicality of the style," reports Lisa Aiken, retail fashion director at Net-a-Porter.
Chosen carefully, the updated blue shirt will blend seamlessly into your current wardrobe. The new tie-waist styles (pixiemarket.com's casual option is ¤88) work with rigid denim for weekends, and bolder styles (& Other Stories' offering has graphics of nature and birds, ¤85) can be tucked into a wrap skirt for evening.
Issa counsels that "it's nice to subvert a classic shirt and make it feminine, try it with a round skirt or coloured suit." Opting for a longer length shirt will extend your styling options. They can be tucked in, worn open as a cover-up with a simple top underneath, or cinched in with a thin belt. Classic it may be, but boring it is certainly not.
Silk crepe blouse by Stella McCartney, €525, Brown Thomas
Long-sleeved blouse with tie collar, reduced to €45, laredoute.com
Striped pyjama-style shirt, €39, Cos
Pinstripe, short-sleeved shirt, €9, Penneys
Blue lace shirt, €55, River Island
'Kalmar' shirt, €85, & Other Stories
Paint-splatter blouse, €45.95, Zara