Gripped by a most atypical enthusiasm for sales shopping, I was last week exhorting you to buy a long-sleeved shift dress, this being an item from last season (and therefore discounted) which will be just as useful, and look just as current, in this new year of ours.
Arguably I should leave it there and move on, because I am after all endlessly banging on about newness and relevance and how if you don’t keep up with fashion you turn into the visual equivalent of that tedious person who starts their sentences with “As I always say.” (If you always say it, say something else.)
But there is a second sales bargain to be bagged right now: the silk shirt. When I say silk shirt, I mean silk shirt, not blouse. Specifically, a sharp-edged collar, straightforward buttons and a slimmed-down silhouette based on a classic man’s shirt. But silk, which makes it different from a cotton shirt: slippery and sensuous where cotton is crisp and perky. (A note on jewellery. Those chunky crystal necklaces that look great with cotton shirts are wrong here. You need something delicate.)
You know this shirt. It’s the go-to look of the hot professional female right now. It’s slick and approachable; it works brilliantly with tailored trousers, knee-length skirts, jeans. In other words, it works with the kind of clothes you already own and wear, rather than being a hard-to-wear purchase.
But what makes the silk shirt the perfect target for your sales shopping hit list is that what you are searching for is very simple, which makes the chance of getting hot and distracted and hungry and coming home with totally the wrong thing less likely. (Although, hey, it happens to the best of us. Don’t beat yourself up.) You want no detailing. One colour: either a bedroomy camisole shade (blush, dove grey, ivory) or something flattering like black or navy. Leave your magpie tendencies at home for the day: crystal studs on the collar, embroidered motifs, pin tucks are not charming details. Keep looking until you find the simplest, plainest version. You’ll find it. I know you will. Because the kind of woman who wears this shirt nails this stuff.
Photograph: David Newby for the Guardian. Styling: Melanie Wilkinson. Hair and makeup: Sharon Ive at Carol Hayes Management.
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