How to wear the Perfect shirt - Matches Fashion
MATCHESFASHION.COM's market director Megan Reynolds shows us five ways to wear the wardrobe favourite, from crisp whites to retro stripes.
Words by Lauren Milligan.
If chosen wisely and styled correctly, the shirt is your wardrobe’s hardest working item. Seasoned Jermyn Street shirtmaker Emma Willis notes the details to look out for, as MATCHESFASHION.COM's market director wears it five ways.
‘This is the most traditional and historic of all shirting stripes, the Bengal, and the most classic of them all in navy and white,’ Willis explains. Subvert the classic by contrasting a striped shirt with a checked Balenciaga suit comprised of slim, high-waisted trousers and Demna Gvasalia’s Hourglass checked blazer. ‘Another important detail of a beautifully made shirt, is that the pattern – stripes or checks – should all match at the seams. We do this on all our shirts, including on gauntlets, back yokes and shoulder seams. It takes more skill and time in the cutting and pattern making, but the end result is worth it.’
BEYOND THE BEACH
Packing for a stylish getaway means every piece has to earn its place in your suitcase – so the versatility of a crisp white shirt goes a long way. This ethos continues in modern wardrobes too, as seasonal trends are replaced with a capsule of luxurious pieces for day or night. ‘We are all buying now for longevity and the pleasure of craftsmanship, whether home or away, and timeless pieces build a sustainable wardrobe to be proud of,’ Willis notes. This one will go from the airport straight to the beach, teamed with an easy Albus Lumen skirt and woven Muuñ bag.
The classic white shirt has earned a place in the wardrobe alongside other perennial pieces, and like all classics true luxury is found in the details. ‘Our classic men’s-cut shirt has all the traditional Jermyn Street details: raised fronts, split-back yokes, French seams and cross-stitched real mother-of-pearl buttons on a deep, squared cuff,’ designer and Jermyn Street tailor Emma Willis explains. ‘The collar is such an important part of the shirt, the shape of the points, collar lining and deep collar band give it a sharp structure.’ Team with other classics: a tan leather bag, black leather trousers and leopard-print pumps for easy 8-to-8 dressing.
A slim-cut shirt that tucks neatly into a high-waisted skirt or trousers is a must for evening – and more than ever the details are crucial when pairing it with eveningwear. ‘Beautiful cotton is rare, but especially hard to find in women’s shirting,’ Willis explains. ‘We use neat single-needle tiny stitching throughout; so much prettier than speedy overlocking or twin-needle stitching, and real mother-of-pearl buttons.’ Worn with a shimmering Paco Rabanne skirt, the simplest piece – adorned with handmade silk ribbon – can become the star.
Balancing the masculine and feminine is never simpler than when layering a delicate dress over a crisp shirt. ‘This is a fine two-fold cotton with 140 threads to the inch,’ Willis says. ‘This fabulous retro stripe takes us back to the flamboyant 1970’s when men wore multicoloured stripes – and not just bankers but rock stars too.’ Willis has built a business creating bespoke shirts for men but employs an almost exclusively female team: women cutting for women. ‘Shirtmaking in general – particularly cutting – has traditionally been a male domain, but all my highly skilled bespoke pattern makers and cutters are young women.’