Ann Taylor Dress Shirt, size 00P :: Paige Blue Heights jeans, size 23 (hemmed) :: Christian Louboutin Simple 85 pumps, size 35 :: Chanel Lambskin East/West handbag :: Ann Taylor Perfect Patent Skinny belt, size xs :: Sterling Silver and Carnelian bracelets :: Lydell NYC ring
Summer always leaves me feeling “blah” about clothing, and especially this year, I’ve been really struggling to snap out of my funk. I feel best covered in layers, weighty fabrics, and deep hues, so summer is a struggle. I usually dress in the most clothing possible for the weather, and don’t quite get the appeal of running around half naked, like so many summer lovers do. So when the hottest days of the year hit, I lose my will to get dressed, and sneakily dart around town hoping I don’t run into anyone I know in my frumpy outfits.
This week, something woke up in me, and I needed to get chic…now! Fashion week has been making the rounds around the world’s fashion capitals, and I’ve been pouring over street style photos of the fashion glitterati fluttering around town dressed to the nines. What a great kick in the pants to get me sorting through my closet again!
In fact, such a huge change was needed in my attitude, that I even felt the nagging urge to paint my fingernails…for the first time in years! Whoa! I couldn’t decide which color though…I’m leaning towards the wine.
I also feel the urge to pile on the bracelets, and have been strangely drawn to cocktail rings. Summer funk, over.
The white dress shirt…it’s said every woman needs one, but until now, I never owned one. Which is funny because the simple white dress shirt has been seared in my brain as a staple of my dream wardrobe.
At some point during my formative style-developing years (that awkward teen/young adult stage when I had no style what-so-ever, but for some reason, started paying attention to other people who did), I crossed paths with a woman wearing nothing more special than a crisp, tucked, white dress shirt, a perfectly fitting pair of jeans, high heels, and an amazing confidence. This woman looked so impeccable and sophisticated to my impressionable, young style-less self, that I still hold that look as a goal of mine. It’s weird how some stuff sticks with you like that.
So I’ve been searching and searching, but my great dress shirt hunt has been more like a chapter from Goldilocks and the Three Bears:
This one’s too big! This one’s too sheer! This one’s fabric is too icky and cheap! This one’s too wrinkly! The alterations on this one’s too expensive!
Well, I finally found one I’m happy with. It still needs a little nip and tuck, but the shoulders, sleeves, fabric and details all came together (although I’d prefer the front seams didn’t end at prime nip area, but you can’t have it all). So here’s my first attempt at looking “sophisticated” in my white dress shirt.
The torso needs slimming, so the shirt poofed in back when I tried to tuck it into my jeans. My quick-fix is the ol’ front-tuck (or as everyone’s favorite petite non-blogger, Aubrey so eloquently put it…the mullet-tuck!) …it reins in the extra fabric, while looking cool in that aloof “oh, is my shirt half tucked? Oh well. I’m so cool, I’m even cool by accident.” way (even though I stood in the mirror for a good 20 minutes fiddling to get the perfect tuck…it’s still not quite right…maybe next time). I’ve also been loving a clean black and white palette lately,
And now, some dress shirt shopping tips I’m learning along the way:
- The torso is easy to slim. Look for a good fit in other places like the shoulder and sleeve first. Here’s why:
- Shoulder alterations can be tricky and expensive. Avoid them if you can.
- Most dress shirt sleeves have some sort of detail, like a buttoned cuff or pleats, which can be difficult to alter or recreate.
- Do you get a weird poofy bit of fabric at your back when you try on dress shirts? That’s usually because the shirt has a waist already cut into it. The shirt waistline may be lower than your natural waistline, so the waist creeps up to sit at your natural waist. This can result in a poof of fabric around the shoulder (and happens to me all the time). I’ve also heard something about the shirt having a “long back”, but I’m not sure what that means. Anyone know?
- Remedy: Buy a dress shirt that isn’t snug around your torso, and have it slimmed to fit your curves properly.
- Do you want an expensive, professional or sophisticated look? Shop for dress shirts in crisp, structured fabrics. Do you want a casual, bohemian, younger look? Shop for dress shirts in thin, soft fabrics.
- Keep the collar in proportion to your frame. The modern collar shape is trim and menswear inspired. Longer, bigger collars just look dated.
- If the shirt pulls across your bust and your girls peak through the button holes, it’s time to size up and get the waist whittled down.
Readers, any dress shirt shopping tips you’d like to share? How about tips for breaking out of a dressing funk? Or for you sewing types…what does a “long back” mean?
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