Five shirts, five days: the ‘ladyshirt’ challenge!

The last time I wore a shirt was probably on my last day at school, so when The Savile Row Company got in touch to set me a bit of a wardrobe challenge, it was with slight trepidation that I took it on! They offered to send me a selection of shirts from their surprisingly vast women’s range, which I would then work into my own wardrobe to suit my style. Given that my usual way of creating an outfit involves picking a dress from the hundreds I own and proceeding to over-accessorise it, doing creative things with shirts was going to be tricky. But I’m always game for a challenge, and it turned out to be very interesting to see how these classic pieces can be taken far beyond their traditional home as workwear…

Shirt One: The Boyfriend Shirt in White

I decided to start off with what I thought would be the easiest shirt to wear, the long boyfriend shirt in white (£27.50). I didn’t want to go the easy route of wearing it buttoned up over leggings, so I decided to go one step further. I layered the shirt over a navy and white vest with a lace trim, and added a pair of jeans with turn-up hems. This was topped with a tan coloured belt to cinch it in a bit.

The look I was going for was a bit Gallic and a tad gamine. Alas, I am definitely not Audrey Hepburn (!) and I think the result is a bit too ‘done’ and does nothing for my body shape at all. Even with the belt, this outfit makes my waist disappear, though I do think this is due to the fact I unbuttoned it and pushed some of the fabric back to make it look more ‘open’. Luckily, I have another boyfriend shirt to try later, which hopefully I can create a better look with…

Shirt Two: The Tie-Neck shirt in Raspberry Pink

Next, I moved on to something a bit brighter. Of all the shirts I tried, the short-sleeved tie-neck (£27.50) was the one I was least excited about when I saw it in pictures. I have big boobs, and high-necked designs, especially those with loads of fussiness at the neck, generally make me look ridiculous.

But then I realised the sash that comes with this blouse is actually detachable, which meant I wasn’t limited to wearing it how it was intended. I tried it tied around the neck, but it was difficult to get it looking as neat as in the photos (believe it or not, I had ironed it before the pic on the right). Instead, I chose to wrap the sash around the waist and tie it at the back, and wear it with a floral stretch skirt from F+F at Tesco. This ended up being one of my favourite looks of the five – the pink is quite bright and girly, and the lack of collar makes the shirt look a bit more casual, which works with the jersey skirt.

Shirt Three: The V-neck Short Sleeve Blouse in Lilac

Day three’s shirt was a more feminine style with a v-neck and tie (£27.50), so my first thought was to go casual and wear it with jeans. But then I decided I should go for something smarter as this was the least office-esque of the styles and I could perhaps get away with it. So out came the trusty pencil skirt (from New Look). I didn’t really want to accessorise this, but I ended up adding a stretchy belt (from River Island) because it was quite difficult to keep the shirt tucked in and looking tidy because the skirt had a narrow waistband, so I needed something to hide the join.

I like the finished look, but I do wonder if this blouse would look better off on women with a smaller bust. The seaming detail sits directly above the boobs and can give a bit of a shelf-like look if you’re not careful. Great if you’re small up top, but harder to wear if you’re D+.

Shirt Four: The Narrow Satin Stripe Shirt in Blue

This narrow satin stripe shirt (£27.50) was my favourite of all the shirts, which surprised me given that it’s the most classic shape. It was the only one I thought looked good without a belt (but I put one on anyway – why change the habit of a lifetime?). I think because I tend to go for slinkier fabrics or more fitted cuts, that I struggled with the more voluminous shirts, while this one fit really well all the way down. It has pretty detailing down the front and is a really nice, heavy fabric that sits well and is incredibly easy to iron.

I wore it with a pair of denim shorts over tights, which is not something I’ve worn before, but I think they work to balance out the smartness of the shirt and make it a bit more casual. The photos were taken at the end of the day, so please forgive the creasing around the belt where I’d been moving around!

Shirt Five: The Boyfriend Shirt in Blue

By now we’ve established that I quite like belts. So I decided I may as well whack one on for the final day, which saw the return of the boyfriend shirt, this time in blue. I think these shirts work best on my body shape with something to nip in the waist, as they’re quite straight in shape which can end up looking less ‘boyfriend’ and more ‘granny’ on a body like mine. Along with my belt I added an insane pair of Topshop earrings for a bit of bling, and I actually really like how it looks.

The only problem with this blue colour is that it’s exactly the same colour as the shirts that were part of my school uniform as a kid, so the moment I put it on, I’m transported back to being ten years old, bleary-eyed and struggling with my tie every morning! Maybe if I give this look a go in the future, it’ll be with the white shirt rather than the blue!

All the shirts are available on the Savile Row Company’s website in sizes 8 – 16 (they run true to size with generous busts), and are currently 2 for £45.

Disclosure: the shirts were sent to me free of charge for review purposes, however the opinions are my own and I was not paid to write this post.

  • Leila

    ah i loved this article Gemma! The raspberry pink one in particular looks really pretty, though I also like the blue with the shorts and the last one. I never know what to do with shirts, so this (genuinely) gave me some ideas! More like this please :D

  • http://www.gemmacartwright.com Gemma

    So glad it was useful Leila! I will definitely try and do more stuff like this, I just need to get better at taking pics of outfits!

  • Kat

    I think I like look three the best – the colour is really pretty, and I really like your hair in the pic, too!

    Did you wear shirt five with tights and nothing else?! You’re a gamer woman than I, Miss Gemma Cartwright…

  • http://www.gemmacartwright.com Gemma

    I put leggings on before I went out, I must confess. But loved how it looked with tights!

  • http://www.domesticsluttery.com Siany

    I think the outfits you’ve chosen are fab, and styled brilliantly. But I’m surprised that you couldn’t find one that was utterly perfect for your shape/style. Less styling considerations for larger ladies at Savile Row?

  • http://www.gemmacartwright.com Gemma

    I think shirts in general are problematic if you’re larger, but I do commend Savile Row on remembering that most of us have boobs of some kind – so many of the shirts I wore when I was younger gaped terribly around the bust and none of these did. I think that’s also down to the quality of the cotton though – the plackets were stiff and well-made too.

    I just think I’m not really a shirt kind of girl. I find no matter what you do they pucker up and crease to some degree. And I hate ironing!

  • http://twitter.com/lovelychaos Jesselvidge

    Looking HAWT in that blue boyfriend shirt Gems. Agree with you about fussy necklines but big props for pulling off the v neck short sleeve blouse. I am always waaaaay too shelf for those cuts – as I insisted on demonstrating to all and sundry during the tunic summer a few years back.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_B2FVVRPQFZNWFJX2Q5B3JSPZT4 Moon Hcz

    Bad camera…look at these red eyes. jeasus.

  • http://www.gemmacartwright.com Gemma

    Yeah I dropped my usual camera on the floor so have had to replace it temporarily with a not-so-great one while I save up for a replacement.

    Herve Leger is not my style at all. Last time I checked, I wasn’t an overpaid hollywood star with no imagination.

  • http://goodgirlsstudio.blogspot.com Johanna

    Belted is thee only way I can pull off a button up shirt…my “girls” are rather larger & always a garner a gap across the front! Great job making them more wearable :)

  • http://www.generousfashions.com Lisa Plus Size

    I love the raspberry pink tie neck shirt, it’s so cute and chic!

  • http://www.comfortinfashion.com Plus Size Dorita

    The Narrow Satin stripe in blue is nice, I like the fit and it looks great with your denim shorts.