Symbol of modernity
The white shirt used to be a symbol of wealth, worn by those who didn't need to report for labour as the working class wasn't able to wear one without staining it and didn't have the time or money to keep it clean. Later on, a distinction was made between 'blue collar' and 'white collar', blue being the factory workers and white referring to the people working in an office. Even though the white shirt still has somewhat of a masculine connotation, it has been donned by women for ages.
After the First World War, the white shirt became a symbol of the emancipation of the modern working woman and eventually, it managed to break free from its corporate image. The tone was set by ultra-feminine silver screen icons such as Marlene Dietrich, Katherine Hepburn and even Marilyn Monroe, who embraced the androgynous look - which was earlier introduced by designer Coco Chanel - and wore the white shirt in a suit-and-tie kind of context or with a simple pair of blue high-waisted jeans. The masculine shirt has since become more feminine than ever and is treasured as a sartorial basic, essential in every modern day woman's wardrobe.
A reinterpreted basic
With one designer after the other unleashing their re-imagination on the classic dress shirt on the runway, the past seasons seemed like a tribute of some sort. They tore the garment apart and sewed it back together, each in their own unique way. 'Deconstructed', was the term that was used and overused, mostly illustrated by asymmetry, frayed hems and even an additional pair of sleeves to tie the shirt at the waist. After all this experimenting with design and fantasising on how to wear the shirt in the most avant-garde way - we've seen backwards - we are just about ready to go back to basics. Sofie D'Hoore's 'Bloom' shirt proves the power of simplicity. Pure and refined, this classic button-up white 'chemise' is one certainty in style that we can always fall back on.