Tops & Shirts

The shirt: mostly unchanged over the past half-century or more. Detachable sleeves for flirting? Shirttails as underwear? This core garment has evolved (and devolved) in fascinating and sometimes funny ways. 

A shirt is a garment worn on the upper part of the body, the torso. Consisting of a buttoned front, a collar, with long or short sleeves. Possibly the most important item of clothing in the male wardrobe after the suit (or skirt if Scottish!). The shirt has always been considered the symbol of a gentleman. The finest shirts are single-stitched, pleated at the cuff, and feature a split shoulder yoke allowing for the different heights of each shoulder. Who knew?

The shirt goes way, way back. The oldest preserved garment in the world? A linen shirt from ancient Egypt. Circa 13th – 15th centuries Europe, detachable sleeves are considered chic. Women swap them between outfits, and sometimes unbutton one and hand it to a suitor as a sign of affection. Imagine doing that today? 

Post-Renaissance Era – the cloudy origins of a shirt convention that we still live with today: women’s shirts buttoning on the left and men on the right. Allegedly, women of status tended to be buttoned up by a servant, more easily done from the left for a right-handed person, whereas men dressed themselves. The origins of the crop-top, half-shirt or sham, in the 16th – 18th centuries was a popular men’s garment. A decorative layer, it only covered the top portion of the chest and was worn over a shirt that was either deemed too plain for the occasion, or needed washing. In the early 18th century, the shirt begins to extend beyond the torso for men of this era, the long tails doing double duty as underwear. 

Although the word ‘shirt’ has been expanded to include a number of men’s and women’s garments, with dress shirt, sports shirt, sweatshirt, T-shirt and shirtwaist counted among them, the plain white shirt cut from the softest sea-island cotton is a sartorial must for any man, or woman. The tailored shirtwaister, or shirtwaist blouse with starched and coat-styled front is the women’s version that evolved from a man’s shirt. Many formerly exclusive male shirt styles have been adopted essentially unchanged for women’s wear in the late 20th century. 

Let’s not forget though, there is nothing like slipping on your man’s crisp cotton shirt as a go-to over a pair of blue jeans.

Our cool colourful tops can be paired with the skirts and pants in store or bought separately. 

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