Monday, September 22, 2008

The White Shirt

by Ki Hackney

Labor Day might have been the cut-off for wearing white,
but there’s one annual exception – The White Shirt. When it’s a humid 80 degrees or more outside in September, and you are walking along in your new black pants, few things feel cooler and fresher to wear on top than a clean white shirt?

There are lots of styles from classic man-tailored varieties to those with sophisticated ruffles. And there is plenty of competition at retail this season, which always makes shopping more interesting. Following is a bird’s eye overview:

Brooks Brothers was the first clothing retailer in America and introduced the first ready-made suits for men. But the women in my family have sworn by Brooks Brothers’ dress shirts for years, even when they had to buy men’s sizes. We have had them buttoned-down (the button-down polo collar shirt was also a Brooks invention; introduced in 1896) or straight-collared with French cuffs and, more recently, we’ve been collecting the ones with a little more fit and stretch appeal. And there are plenty from which to choose.
Women’s non-iron fitted stretch shirt with DOW XLA, 89.50. Silk Tuxedo Blouse, $228.00.
All available at Brooks Brothers, 346 Madison Ave., 212-682-8800; 1-800-274-1815 or www.brooksbrothers.com.
Men’s Non-Iron Pinpoint Button-Down Slim Fit Dress Shirt, $79.50; at Brooks Brothers, 346 Madison Ave., 212-682-8800; 1-800-274-1815 or www.brooksbrothers.com. Brooks Brothers Women’s Non-Iron Fitted Stretch Shirt with DOW XLA, $89.50; at Brooks Brothers, 346 Madison Ave., 212-682-8800; 1-800-274-1815 or www.brooksbrothers.com.
The Internet seems to be the preferred purchasing mode these days and for everyday basics, why not? Just like Brooks Brothers, Land’s End has an extensive selection of white shirts for men and women. For women, think every variation from a school-girl style with a Peter Pan collar and pleated back yoke to a stand-up collar shirt outlined with ruffles or a clean, white big shirt.

I have been wearing the basic, long-sleeved, no-iron, straight-collar shirt for several years, and Lands End’s no-iron is true to its promise. What the descriptive copy does not include are the compliments from people who want the name of the designer or tailor.
Uniform women's Peter Pan collar woven blouse from Lands’ End; $25.00; at www.landsend.com. Long sleeve, no-iron, straight-collar shirt for women from Lands’ End; $44.50-$49.50; at www.landsend.com.
In 1993, after pursuing interests and careers focused on the environment, Brazilian-born Anne Fontaine blended her education and talents together and poured the mix into fashion, finding instant success with stylish white shirts. In June of this year, the Paris-based designer added an uptown store -- at 61st St./ Madison Ave. -- to her international directory of shops. We love the longer-cut poplin shirt that is a perfect topper for those skinny, skinny black pants or leggings and have a hard time choosing among the softer, more frothy styles with ruffles, tucks or lace, even ever-so-chic ballooned sleeves.
Drawstring shirt with the long sleeves scrunched up and tied high, $250.00; at Anne Fontaine, 677 Madison Avenue between 61st/62nd; 212-421-0947. Pima cotton tuxedo shirt, $325.00; at Anne Fontaine, 677 Madison Avenue between 61st/62nd; 212-421-0947.
Black-buttoned Ermeline cotton shirt, $265.00; at Anne Fontaine, 677 Madison Avenue between 61st/62nd; 212-421-0947. Ruffled Pima cotton Edlantine blouse, $295.00; at Anne Fontaine, 677 Madison Avenue between 61st/62nd; 212-421-0947.
With the changes that have taken place at Lord & Taylor (don’t worry, plans are under way to update the look of the store), we had to check the stock for white shirts and found two good versions from Anne Klein and Calvin Klein.
Calvin Klein Petites Pintucked Blouse, on sale for $78.40; at Lord & Taylor, 424 Fifth Avenue, 212-391-3344 or www.lordandtaylor.com. AK Anne Klein White Woven, on sale for $55.20; at Lord & Taylor, 424 Fifth Avenue, 212-391-3344 or www.lordandtaylor.com.
And we couldn’t complete a story without a look-see at Bergdorf’s. White shirts are the perfect anchor for jackets, sweater coats and suits, and the selection of silhouettes ranges from long tunics to a perky blouse with short puffed sleeves. The designer selection includes Armani Collezioni, Loro Piana, eskandar, Vince, Alexander McQueen, Narciso Rodriguez, Proenza Schouler and Ralph Lauren Black Label, and, surprise, Pringle of Scotland.
Clockwise from top left: Smocked cotton-and-spandex blouse with barrel cuffs by Vince, $185.00; Vince’s cotton Simple Boy shirt, $195.00; Pringle of Scotland double-cuff tuxedo shirt, $650.00; Alexander McQueen’s high-collar blouse, $485. All Available at Bergdorf Goodman, 754 Fifth Ave. at 58th Street, 212-753-7300 or www.bergdorfgoodman.com.
Cascade blouse of viscose/nylon/polyester by Vince, $210.00. Available at Bergdorf Goodman, 754 Fifth Ave. at 58th Street, 212-753-7300 or www.bergdorfgoodman.com. Marc by Marc Jacobs sateen jersey top with short, puffed sleeves, $138.00. Available at Bergdorf Goodman, 754 Fifth Ave. at 58th Street, 212-753-7300 or www.bergdorfgoodman.com.