White Shirts Go From Supporting Role To Star
This spring, the white shirt will be more than just a wardrobe staple.
Quite a few runway collections for spring included notable shirts with enough character to stand apart from the sea of white button-downs. Rather than playing a supporting role, these shirts stand as stars on their own.
Designers defined the looks with artful construction and detailing, employing pleats, open backs, cropped fronts, multiple layers, bibs, collars, darts and exaggerated dimensions, such as Tomas Maier's enlarged sleeves on a Bottega Veneta blouse.
This is a great example of designers innovating at a high level. White shirts have long been a wardrobe building block, ever since women first borrowed the look from the classic man's shirt. But they often require dressing up with scarves, jackets, or jewelry. Many of the latest versions, by contrast, go well beyond their menswear origins and cross the tricky border from wardrobe essential into high fashion.
Peter Som's white tuxedo shirt is a case in point. On his runway in New York, he placed the shirt over a floral skirt and leopard oxford shoes. Far from being overwhelmed by the busy patterns, the shirt held its own through smart details: a slightly cropped length that allowed it to be worn untucked at the hip, a smooth bib, and double-long cuffs -- French cuffs that hadn't been folded back.
What's more, that same shirt -- which will be priced at $595 -- could be tossed over denim, tucked under a suit jacket, or worn Le Smoking style with tuxedo pants. The shirt can be a wardrobe workhorse as well.
Mr. Som calls a white shirt 'a blank canvas.' 'It can be the star of a look or it can be a backdrop for a great print or [it can] hold accessories,' he says. 'That's the best thing about a white shirt -- the world is your oyster with one.'
Shirts from the spring 2014 collections will begin showing up in stores in another month or so. On the runways last fall in New York and Europe, more than two dozen major collections included great, fashion-forward white shirts.
Many were inspired by menswear looks, but their designs took artful dodges this way and that. Alessandro Dell'Acqua amped up the blousy volume while embroidering the collars and hems of masculine shirting and cropping others at the midriff.
Bold enough to be the statement piece of an outfit, these shirts aren't meant to disappear under a jacket. They should be worn untucked and easy, though of course nicely pressed.
For Hermes, designer Christophe Lemaire kept it simple and sleeveless. He paired a crisp white blouse -- in a fabric so finely woven it looked buttery -- with a richly multihued skirt. It's the sort of understated styling that Hermes is known for.
Carolina Herrera -- no stranger to the white blouse (hers are iconic, worn with a pleated skirt) -- created a shirt with a placket that buttoned to the side under a pert collar. She styled it as evening wear over a floor-length skirt, proving that a white blouse can go to any part of town, at any time of day or night. It's as versatile as a pair of black pumps.
Of course, you can't have the magic of a white shirt without some extra care. Keeping a white shirt white is challenging. Most of these shirts require ironing (the crisp look is part of the appeal), and shirts that are washed and ironed at home are likely to have a longer life than those sent to a laundry or dry cleaner.
When caring for a good white blouse, less is more. Cotton should be laundered, not dry-cleaned, says Susan McManigal, owner of the century-old French Hand Laundry and Dry Cleaning in Pasadena, Calif. At home, use pure soap such as Ivory or Dreft, not detergents, which have harsh chemicals that can cause discoloration and damage fabrics. Ms. McManigal has her water softened and filtered with charcoal -- at the laundry and at her home -- to help the pure soaps work better.
Some designers played with man-shirting as tunics and dresses. The Belgian designer Christian Wijnants attached a shirt-look top to a skirt to create a loose dress, easy to throw on and easy to wear. For Theyskens Theory, Olivier Theyskens did tuxedo-look shirting as a blouse, a tunic and a dress -- the latter coming across as vaguely Amish.
One of my favorite approaches was taken by Raf Simons at Dior. Mr. Simons isn't afraid to use old techniques in new ways, so he did the man-shirt as a dress (in palest lavender rather than white), rolling up the sleeves to the elbow and exaggerating the collar. Several pleats on one side cinched the waist. In one look, the back became the front, with an unbuttoned slit at the hem and an open neck plunging down the back.
The attraction of these is the gender-bending play between masculine and feminine. They are sexy clothes, but not overtly so, because they are loose, and cover up the skin.
'The crisp freshness of white cotton just adds a great note of modest formality,' says designer Rick Owens who brought his cool minimalism to tunics and dresses in the fabric.
Mr. Owens wryly notes that a brilliant white shirt can make whites around it look dim. 'You just have to be careful,' he says, that 'you have beautifully colored teeth to wear it.'
设计师们给这些款型赋予了精巧的结构与细节，他们运用了褶皱、露背、短前襟、层叠、围兜装饰、衣领、缝褶和夸张的尺寸等元素，比如葆蝶家(Bottega Veneta)的托马斯·梅尔(Tomas Maier)就设计了一款袖子宽大的女式衬衫。
爱马仕(Hermes)设计师克里斯托夫·勒迈尔(Christophe Lemaire)设计的白衬衫则是简约的无袖款。他以色彩丰富的多色短裙搭配干 利落的白衬衫，衬衫的布料质地细腻，看上去非常顺滑。它展现的是爱马仕那种闻名的低调风格。
在打理一件质地优良的白衬衫时，简单即好。加州帕萨迪纳(Pasadena)的百年洗衣店French Hand Laundry and Dry Cleaning的店主苏珊·麦克马尼格(Susan McManigal)称，棉质布料应水洗而不是干洗。在家中打理时，可使用Ivory 或Dreft的天然皂，不要使用洗涤剂，因为它们含有会使衣物褪色和损害布料的刺激性化学物。无论是在洗衣店还是家中，麦克马尼格会用木炭过滤水并软化它，以便让天然皂更能发挥作用。
有些设计师在男士衬衫上玩起了花样，把它们改造为束腰衬衫和连身裙。比利时设计师克里斯蒂安·威南茨(Christian Wijnants)把一件衬衫样式的上衣和短裙拼接在一起，打造了一件宽松感的裙子。它穿起来简便，也方便搭配。Theyskens Theory的设计师奥利维耶·泰伊肯斯(Olivier Theyskens)设计了礼服衬衫式样的女衬衫、束腰衬衫和连身裙，其中裙子仿佛带有阿米什风格。