- Mar 20, 2013
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Good stuff TWD.Interesting topic Mr. K.
I first entered the white collar workplace in the early nineties. I wore suits to work for the next ten years and every day wore white shirts and white pocket squares. Eventually I was tempted by a beautiful cream sharkskin suit which would have completely washed me out with a white shirt. It was a big step for me to get a denim blue shirt to wear with it. I’m not sure where the white shirt thing came from, I wasn’t a total devotee of Cary Grant but admired his look so maybe there was some of that in there?
Anyway I very rarely wear a plain white shirt these days and almost all my work shirts are variations of blue - stripes, checks, patterned textures etc which are much more flattering to a pasty blondie!
I’ve been sorting photos recently and came across one of me in the nineties with a very loose fitting plain white polo, sleeves almost to the elbows, like your second pic above.
It’s funny how certain elements of the look are sustained despite variations due to the vaguaries of current fashions. Your two pics are a great illustration of this but I have to say the earlier more tailored version is much more flattering. Having been guilty myself of a looser fitting interpretation I won’t be going back there and that’s why the recent pendulum swing away from sausage skins towards loose fits and pleats bugs me. Some things just look better regardless of what the current trend may be.
I’m not sure where the white shirt thing came from either. It would be too simple to say that it was a hangover from the days of the ‘white collar worker’, but I do wonder if its relative demise has to do with the younger generations not wanting to associate with the old school? Yes, Cary Grant always pulled it off with style IMO, but I don’t think he really influenced me.
Like TWD, most of my business shirts these days have some blue going on, but I do have three plain white ones that sometimes see the light of day. White shirts are helped by some texture, I think, and one of mine is in oxford cloth (not a BD), one is twill and the other a rather formal cotton poplin, normally worn in the evening.
I have also been looking back at some old pictures and they seem to reveal that a major change of silhouette happened during the 1980s from a rather slim look (although more relaxed than some of the 70’s styles) to one that was about as ‘big’ as it could be, even when you did practice some moderation. Without the benefit of the old photos, I should, in retrospect, believe I dressed pretty much the same in 1990 as I had in 1980. Those two pictures reveal that, although the basic components remained virtually unchanged on those two summer evenings ten years apart, the shape was quite different. If I could find a similar picture from 2000 it would probably show a gradual return to a slimmer look.
Who was it that said something like ‘never be the first into or the last to abandon a fashion’? It would have been in the 19th C - anyway that was probably sound advice.