The adjective most often affixed to a blue shirt is “humble”. That is, until now. This year, the blue collar has gone decidedly upmarket. Say goodbye to the basic blue shirt, and hello to the elevated blue shirt.
This is confusing, because it runs contrary to the principles of shirt-wearing, that the usefulness and appeal of a shirt resides in its simplicity. Those principles have been the basis of how shirts have been framed in fashion for years – a wardrobe device, used to engineer different looks. A cotton shirt worn open at the neck, with a pair of jeans, for ultimate blue-jean chic, or worn under a crewneck sweater with the collar poking through, for minimal layering. Or tucked into a below the knee full skirt, to modernise the midi length. The shirt is a foil, a plain background against which your look can pop.
The new style of shirt is different. It is fancy, the centrepiece of your look rather than its backdrop. The beauty of the concept is that the basic look is so basic that even a small keychange registers. The elevated shirt doesn’t have to be tent-like, or down to your knees. This is the most sensible, normal, easy-to-wear piece of clothing I’ve worn on these pages in months, but also feels like it offers the most genuinely exciting new possibilities, because it hits that sweet spot of being wearable but different.
Elevating isn’t about embellishing so much as tweaking the shape to exaggerate it in some way. It is the next logical progression after popping the collar (2014) and leaving one side of the front of your shirt untucked (2015). If you don’t fancy going shopping, you can embellish by dint of this season’s “wrap and tuck”: instead of buttoning your shirt, wrap the front of it, and tuck both sides into your jeans. The off-the-peg elevated shirt effectively does the styling work for you. You get an added ruffle of fabric, or an asymmetric bow, or sleeves with an exaggerated shape.
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