March 20, 2013
Guest Post by Toby Rose
One fashion statement never goes out of style ? the white shirt. The item is the benchmark luxury option for men from all backgrounds the world over. This mode mainstay of a gentleman?s wardrobe quite rightly took centre stage in that most dapper of locations ? London?s St James?s. The scene for White Shirt Week an item of clothing associated with James Bond, The Great Gatsby and, more recently Downton Abbey. Sporting this dazzling and crisp icon item of timelessness was dashing leading young man, Freddie Fox.
Standing proud and suave in this historic location this young actor ? the current toast of the West End ? was living proof that the white shirt has not gone out of fashion. Historic gentlemen?s outfitters all around had examples of this key garment in their windows - a symbol of the enduring use of this item of clothing from the dapper dandy to the most serious of world figures. The streets of St James?s has seen the whole range of personalities all in search of the same signature shirt.
Scion of the Fox acting dynasty, Freddie is not just modelling this key item he is very much a willing cheerleader. ?The white shirt of is of seminal importance in a man?s wardrobe. It is a key. A cornerstone? enthuses Freddie, adding ?I have nine in my cupboard sitting on my hangers which gives you an idea of how much I value this ?go with everything, go with everyone? piece of clothing. There is no man alive who does not look his best in a white shirt?.
The style credibility can be in no doubt, as he is currently treading the boards as the ill starred love interest of one of literature?s greatest dandys, Oscar Wilde. Young Mr Fox has cut a dash as the headstrong young aristocrat Lord Alfred Douglas in the story of the downfall of Wilde, The Judas Kiss.
The era of gentlemen, and a carefree existence before The Great War, when codes of dress of the gentleman made their way around the globe across Queen Victoria?s empire. One element to take centre stage sartorially was the White shirt. Taking its place as the cornerstone item to be worn by serious players from Berlin to New York to Sydney. White shirt maketh man. No top-level boardroom meeting, peace conference or glittering gathering saw the White shirt go unnoticed. This item became shorthand for credibility and style. As the power of movies increased the White shirt reached even further and found itself in iconic scene after iconic scene. Screen shorthand for serious, sexy and stylish. Just take a look at Clark Gable.
Behind this power dressing was one true power-house which supplied shirts which were the benchmark for the correct style for this key garment. The purveyors of the template for this gentleman?s essential could be found in greatest concentration in St James?s. Names such as Turnbull & Asser the shirt maker which has turned the craft of crafting a White shirt to its apogee.
Turnbull & Asser are master craftsmen who take great pride in creating the Rolls Royce of this simplest of luxury items. The cavalcade of stars and statesmen who have worn with pride this quintessential item of clean lines chic lines are diverse. From Tony Curtis to Winston Churchill to Charlie Chaplin.
But surely the big name who truly embodies the essence of the enduring myth of the white shirt is the role of this tailor is supplying White shirts to Bonds across the generations from Sean Connery to Daniel Craig.
From the tail end of post war austerity through the swinging sixties to the excesses of Eighties to the more minimal global chic needs of the 21st century, the White shirt has endured and retained its place.
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