Not since the late 90s, when it was compulsory to wear smart trousers and shoes to get into your local nightclub or bar, has the shirt been seen as a fashion item. While it has soldiered on over the past two decades in its traditional white collar role as a 4 for £100 offer at various Jermyn Street type outfitters, the shirt is priming itself for a comeback.
Harvey Nichols is reporting a massive spike in sales of shirts with growth in the double digits in its menswear department and new companies are springing up, offering a contemporary take on this historical garment of dress.
Danielle Grantham, Buyer, Harvey Nichols says, “Whilst traditional shirting styles drive interest, we’ve noticed that customers are looking for a point of difference and originality to add to their wardrobe staples so we’ve seen an uplift across the entire Harvey Nichols network on those pieces with subtle elevations; soft handle flannel, bolder colours and designs, grandad collar and a resurgence for short sleeves.”
There’s an entire generation who have never known the shirt as a fashion item brought up on a diet of tees and sweatshirts. “The product offer at Harvey Nichols appeals to both father and son, and with such a broad customer profile across the business we are seeing a more mature casualwear customer and younger contemporary customer shop this category.” says Grantham.
The shirt is diversifying by offering better fits and new materials to broaden its scope and appeal. Hale Clothing is a new menswear brand “created for athletic build men, by athletic build men”. Co-Founder, Frederik Willems, was formerly Head of Design at Pink Shirtmaker where he introduced their ‘Athletic Fit’ shirt, designed to fit comfortably across broad shoulders and a narrow waist. Hale Clothing is taking this concept further.
“I think the versatility of a shirt drives its popularity. It is a bridge between formal and casual dress codes and can work either way. Also men in general like practical dressing and most of the shirts you can wear with a suit and tie and super casual with jeans, etc.” says Willems.
“We have seen a few seasons now that were very streetwear dominated and with the likes of Kim Jones, the design team behind Balenciaga and Vetements starting to mix up streetwear with formal wear. It has filtered down and I believe that has helped shirt sales grow. Also in times of economical uncertainty people tend to dress smart as part of a psychological factor of wanting to portray authority and respect.” he says.
Right - Hale Clothing's shirt design for athletic bodies
“I think shirts can be worn in any way, there are no rules. I see great mixes of pattern with formal and casual wear as well as very crisp and minimal use of shirts in the silhouette or look. There are lot of oversized and short sleeved shirt out there at the moment.
“After the explosion of oversized and sportswear inspired fashion, many brands and designers are going back to slick dressing. Formal menswear is also becoming more elevated and mean with that, that the likes of Givenchy show some great menswear tailoring and fashion during their women’s couture and RTW shows.” says Willems.
Luxury shirt specialist, Thomas Pink, has completed a re-brand to 'Pink Shirtmaker'. The LVMH-owned retailer has refreshed the logo, stores, packaging, labelling, brand imagery to reflect the new direction. The retailer has also introduced women’s shirts to their collections to take advantage in this new demand for shirts.
Revolutionising the speed and ease of getting fitted for a shirt is Formcut. From their City of London showroom, they can design a shirt individually tailored to you in a short 15 minute visit. Combining the world’s finest artisanal materials with cutting edge 3D Body Scan Technology, Formcut is owned by the American Size Stream company, which has over 100 years of combined engineer and software developer experience in 3D body scanning and measurement extraction technology. They are the global leader in accurate, affordable body scanning technology.
During the consultation, you’ll have a full body scan, choose your fit and material and within a matter of weeks a shirt arrives. Formcut uses the best 10 fabric mills in the world, including Grandi Rubinelli and Albini with custom shirts ranging in price from £89 to £140 depending on the fabric choice.
Left - The Formcut body scanner
On the other side of the spectrum is the new going out shirt and silk is the material of choice. This indulgent and louche look taps into that rock star feeling peddled by the likes of Saint Laurent and Celine and celebrities like Harry Styles and Timothée Chalamet.
The Silk Shirt Company is a new British start-up specialising in the finest Italian silk shirts. Ajay Valecha, Managing Director, says, “Shirts have endured the test of time and are suitable both for work and play. Our shirts are made of the finest silk made in Italy and are meant for the emperor in you. Whether you are a neo imperial warlord, master of the universe or just trying to look ridiculously fly at a dope house party, The Silk Shirt Company aims to be the zenith of shirts for you.”
While expensive, the silk shirt offers flexibility to leave it dangerously open and display another big trend in menswear, necklaces and jewellery.
Right - The Silk Shirt Company - Luxury Silk Shirt - £800
While the shirt took a back seat to the T-shirt and sweatshirt over the last few years, it is starting to regain territory. People are willing to pay more for a shirt than a T-shirt because it feels like you’re buying something with more work to it. It also feels more longer lasting, an investment piece, less disposable and more versatile in how you can wear and style it in comparison to other types of tops. The message is clear, put a collar on it.
Read more expert ChicGeek Comments - here
Forget being a lounge lizard, this season, it’s all about falling for the temptation of snakeskin. Much like Adam & Eve in the Garden of Eden, that slippy serpent is seductive and looks right for Autumn/Winter 2018. This is your new going out shirt. Take inspiration from Tom Ford's catwalk and team it with typical menswear fabrics such as pinstripes and Prince of Wales check and a neck tie.
Left - Tom Ford - Black Snake Printed Slim Fit Shirt - $980
Below - River Island - Pink Snake Print Short Sleeve Revere Shirt £28
Need more inspiration? See Best Dressed Chic Geek Jeff Goldblum rocking party season
It’s time to show chest - see also TheChicGeek’s obsession with silk shirts - here - and, so, we’ve seen the stealth rise of the camp collar shirt over the last couple of summers. What first arrived in classic Hawaiian styles and floral patterns has morphed into fashion shirts and smarter plain versions.
If you thought a camp shirt featured pink flamingoes, drank Pina Coladas and listened to ABBA, you’d be wrong. This is the shirt style of the summer and you need to get involved. It’ll continue over into summer 2019 too.
Also known as a Cuban, Cabin, Cabana, Bowling or Lounge shirt, it’s a square shaped, short-sleeved, simple placket shirt worn untucked. I’m not really sure where the camp bit is from the origins are from warmer climes and it suits a more relaxed yet dressed approach.
Left - Basic Rights - Short Sleeve Camp Collar Shirt Mustard - £99
Left - Neighbourhood - Camp-Collar Printed Voile Shirt - £185 from MRPORTER.COM
Below - Commas - Camp-Collar Cotton Short - £191 from matchesfashion.com
Left - Reiss - Haydon Cuban Collar Shirt - £85
Left - Orlebar Brown - Travis Towelling - £175
Below - Barena - Camp-Collar Mélange Linen-Blend Shirt - £215 from MRPORTER.COM
Left - Dunhill - Paisley Print Short-Sleeved Lounge Shirt - £250
Left - Gucci - Oxford Bowling Shirt With Patches - £700
Left - River Island - Green Stripe Short Sleeve Revere Shirt - £25
Left - Topman - Pink Sunset Short Sleeve Shirt - £30
Your shirt should be like fashion, this season - one minute you're in, and one minute you're out. Or, you could just compromise, like seen on the Marni catwalk, and wear it half-in and half-out.
It's like messy business attire. The walk of shame, the morning-from-the-night-before chic. Try it.
Credits - Jacket - Scotch & Soda, Shirt - Scotch & Soda, Trousers - Moss Bros, Shoes - Base London , Bag - ST Dupont
Left - Both Marni SS18
Patterned silk shirt open to the waist, long gold necklace drawing the gaze to the chest and hair slicked back like a wannabe Lothario, this retro idea of male sexuality is having a beautiful renaissance.
Think more Harry Styles than Simon Cowell. It’s part of our fascination with masculine images: a Joy of Sex era cliché of what a man should look like. It also complements the return of moustaches, necklaces - see TheChicGeek’s Medallion Man - and hirsute bodies.
Two young and stylish brands have appeared to facilitate this new trend. Specialising in silk shirts, they are pioneering a new idea of male sensuality, and promoting this sensuous, form-hugging material, not to mention the way it takes prints, and giving you many seductive reasons why it should be the fulcrum of your Summer wardrobe.
Left - MrSloane - Tom Cat Jade - £250
A mysterious ‘MrSloane’ has appeared. Helen, the designer behind the brand, who would rather remain anonymous, says, “the enigma of ‘MrSloane’ was largely created as a fictional character, either male or female, hence the way the MrSloane label is spelt ‘together’ ...ie Mr or Mrs..depending on how you read it.”
Right MrSloane - Kimono - £250
Loosely referencing the 70s screen play ‘Entertaining Mr Sloane’, which features an ambiguous relationship between the film’s 3 main characters, it also echoes the ‘his or her’ element of the shirts. Newly launched in December, 2017, her aim was “to create a brand which was reflective of my own personal tastes. Fusing the grit of rock ’n’ roll legends doused in overt glamour and danger, influenced by the NY Disco scene; the collection reflects a melting pot of inspiration combined with rare vintage finds, including antique kimonos, Oriental objet and 70s silk scarves” she says.
What made her want to start her own brand of silk shirts? “A lack of choice in the current market - I either scour ‘Designer Vintage’, in order to find good enough fabrics, which are not 70s polyester, and that led me to create my own label.” says Helen.
Maximillian Robinson launched his eponymous label last year. Only 21, his aunt is handbag queen, Anya Hindmarch, he says, “growing up I have always admired fashion and, more specifically, those that challenge the norms and create striking collections. I wanted to do something unique and identifiable, I’ve always loved what many would describe as ‘loud’ prints and it’s these prints that I have designed which is what gives Maximilian Robinson its name.
“From the beginning I wanted the debut collection to stand out, be full of colour and offer something different. I saw silk as the answer. The way the shirts hang offers something completely different to the norm, along with the versatility of the material. It never looks out of place, whether you’re on a beach or out for dinner,” says Max.
Left - Maximillian Robinson - The Snow Leopard - £280
Many guys see the silk shirt as distinctively feminine or hard to wear and are therefore quite reluctant. “Sometimes people are sceptical about some of the loud prints, but as soon as they put one on they fall in love!” he says.
“I think there is a preconception that silk is always very shiny and too feminine,” say Helen. “The printed silk shirt is very flattering, ours come with a slightly deeper cuff and carefully considered collar, not too retro, nor too mean!” she says.
So, how to wear it? “I’d definitely encourage guys to take the silk shirt plunge and embrace the look. Not only do silk shirts look super cool, but they drape so well on the body, (especially the sleeves) and feel incredible against the skin..unlike a lot of vintage pieces which can be synthetic,” says Helen.
Right - Maximillian Robinson - The Midnight Black - £250
“My advice to any guy would be, wear unbuttoned, as low as you dare, just ensure manscaping and grooming is in check. I would advise keeping the fourth button safely fastened unless of course you’re on ‘Holiday’ and then proceed with caution. Three buttons left undone should be enough for most men, no matter how body confident they are.”
Max says, “I’ve seen them worn in so many different ways, as I said, that’s why I love working with silk, the shirts look great casual with a pair of jeans, or for dinner or can be dressed up with a jacket, but also look at home on top of swimwear on the beach.”
The silk shirt is a luxurious and confident treat of an item. It’s about playing around with male sexuality, with a knowing wink, and offers a fun return of the shirt. The way it drapes, hugs and falls on the upper torso is asking for it to be opened.
Try one and, then ask yourself, "how low will I go?!"
See Label To Know - The Silk Shirt Company - here
We seem to be fixated on the year 1983. First came Stranger Things and now, the new film by Luca Guadagnino, Call Me By Your Name.
Left - Getting rave views - Call Me By Your Name - The new film by Luca Guadagnino, who also made I am Love & A Bigger Splash
A love story between Elio and Oliver, Armie Hammer and Timothée Chalamet, respectively, it is an Italian summer romance featuring the power brands of the decade.
Right - The film's wardrobe was very casual 80s brands such as Lacoste & Polo Ralph Lauren
From Polo Ralph Lauren shirts, clothing the arrogant and preppy Oliver, to the striped Lacoste polos on the young and loving Elio.
Mix it with a bit of 80s Italian disco and copious amounts of drawstring swim shorts and you have your next warm weather wardrobe sorted. A future classic, it’s a peach of a film!
Left - B.D. Baggies - Bradfort Oxford Butt Down-Pocket - £73
Below - Ray Ban - Original Wayfarer Classic - £127
Left - Lacoste - Men’s Lacoste Regular Fit Striped Pima Cotton Polo - £79
Below - Boardies - Overlay Shortie Swim Shorts - £50
Persol - Havana - £153 from Sunglasses-shop
Converse - Fastbreak ’83 Vintage - £70
Casio - Classic Digital Watch F-91W-1XY - £13 from ASOS
adidas - Originals Football Swim Short - £29.99 from Footasylum
See More Get The Look - The Assassination of Gianni Versace - here
Get The Look - Wild, Wild Country
Gary Lineker chooses to wear T.M. Lewin rather than go naked. When he famously tweeted he would present Match of the Day in his underwear, if Leicester City won football’s Premier League, it came back to haunt him and nearly bite him on the derrière when he had to fulfil his promise.
Left & Below - Put a T.M.Lewin shirt on it, Gary!
Fast-forward two seasons and he’s now found his perfect cover-up. The “Perfect” man - due to his impeccable record on the football field - needs the perfect shirt and T.M. Lewin perfectly fits the bill. From “The Ultimate Non-Iron Shirt” to a cooling cotton poplin to luxurious herringbone, T.M. Lewin is the home of the white shirt and has an option to suit every-body!
The 56-year-old former striker has also got himself into hot water with transport bosses. Buses are threatening to ban the snaps - and are demanding a pair of underpants is added to the TV star "to cover his modesty”. Ordered to put his pants back on, the full campaign has come under fire. Transport for London said: “We continually work with advertisers and brands to ensure that all adverts meet our mutual requirements. A slightly amended version of this campaign will run on our network from October 23.”
With or without pants, T.M. Lewin’s classic white shirt fulfils Gary’s every sartorial need from work to play to formal attire. London shirtmaker since 1898, their famous four for £100 offer can make everyman look as perfect as Gary.
Find out more here