Best shirt dresses of the moment

THERE is an old expression and it goes something like “Another day, another shirt that buttons up to your neck and falls at your ankles.” So maybe it’s not that old (or valid) an expression. But it’s true. The shirt dress is, in my very humble opinion, one of the most brilliant pieces of clothing ever made. An entire outfit in one garment, it’s feminine, varying hugely in length, colour, cut, structure, material and style – with just enough hardness thrown in by an austere, stiff collar. It’s the kind of piece that kicks butt in a boardroom and works well on the street.

Now, in my never-ending quest to validate how much time I spend online window shopping, I’ve compiled a shirt dress edit. It’s by no means exhaustive, and you might not agree with all of my choices, but as far as I’m concerned, these are the best shirt dresses of the moment. Some are too pricey even for a payday splurge, and some are much more affordable, but all are very, very covetable. Get shirty, pals. I’m all about the expressions today.

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BRIGHT AND WHITE

 

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COS

MANGO

UNIQLO

ACNE

ASOS

ASOS

TOPSHOP.COM

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ALL THINGS BRIGHT AND BEAUTIFUL

TOPSHOP

TOPSHOP

ASOS

 

KATRANTZOU

TOPSHOP BOUTIQUE

TOPSHOP

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IN THE PINK

ASOS

MODA OPERANDI

THE WHITEPEPPER

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THE MONO-DRAMATICS

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COS

McQUEEN

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BACK TO BLACK

THE WHITEPEPPER

THE WHITEPEPPER

MONKI

BELSTAFF

Taking Stock – Stockholm Fashion Week Street Style

Stockholm is one hell of a city. It’s beautiful, open, pristine and organised. (You can read my travel piece, published in the Herald last year, here.)

And it’s cleverly governed. I know Michael Booth was pretty excoriating about lah-lah-lovely Sweden in his piece for the Guardian, and maybe he’s right in some ways. Stockholm is admittedly a dark city during the winter months, grey from when you wake until mid-afternoon, when it slowly turns to chilly, damp night. You can understand why people might want to insulate themselves from others, swaddled in blankets in warm (if famously minimal) apartments. And you can understand why the cold, dark and solitude can breed a certain kind of stoicism – a ‘let’s get through this’ kind of attitude.

But I found Swedes (and other Scandis) to be warm, inviting people, who could laugh cynically at the astronomical booze prices, and were deeply appreciate of state-subsidised efforts to break up the darkness of winter.

I also discovered two other things: boots and coats. Not that I hadn’t seen them before (you’d want to, visiting the north in winter), but I discovered that Swedes do boots and coats like nobody else. Makes sense that this is the land of COS, H&M, Monki and Cheap Monday, all of which do a roaring trade in the basics (or really, essentials) that make up all our wardrobes. I left feeling pretty embarrassed at my run-of-the-mill duds and footwear, with a yearning to find the perfect wearable booties and shoutily structured cocoon coat. I have done neither successfully.

But that brings me to one of the many bright spots on the Swedish winter calendar: Stockholm Fashion Week.

Running from Monday to Wednesday this week, that effortfully effortless style was perfectly exemplified. And who better to catch those candid moments than Stockholm Streetstyle for style.com? These are just a few – gorge on the rest at the site.

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Is this a sneaky cameo by Camille Over The Rainbow? Indeed it is.

All photos by Stockholm Streetstyle for style.com

Ming Xi’s Lazy Day in Vogue China

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The words desolate, dark, wet and lonely don’t really suggest a sensible shortcut via an alley, let alone a fashion shoot.

But Ming Xi’s mastery of her expansive and empty surroundings lends life to an industrial landscape in this editorial for Vogue China. Called Lazy Day, it doesn’t look very lazy (or very enjoyable, sitting around in warehouses or hoofing it across damp grit) but Boo George’s eye, combined with Joanna Schlenzka’s styling somehow takes simple monochrome shapes and dark backgrounds to create something vibrant and atmospheric.

And how beautiful are the tux trousers, and jumpsuit? I haven’t found a jumpsuit that fits perfectly so far (it’s a toughie when you’re really tall) but I think it’s time to look a bit harder.

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Canny Penneys

It’s been nothing but a pleasure watching Penneys (or Primark, as the rest of the world knows it) expand its range and tap into trends over the last few years. I used to work in the same building as the Penneys Dublin HQ, and get a little thrill of excitement up my spine seeing rails of trend-focused clothes rolling past or sharing the lift.

Primark is going from strength to strength internationally. This has also been the 12 months in which we’ve seen Primark’s flagship Irish store on Henry Street expand hugely, and the year in which the budget retailer expanded its wings and took to online sales at ASOS.

And all the while, producing clothes that truly look the business – no doubt the work of a team of canny buyers and trend forecasters.

I’ll be the first to admit it. Philo’s latest diversion scared me a little – just when you think lo-fi is comfortably embedded in the fashion consciousness and here to stay, the queen of minimalism throws something strange and discomfiting out. Gorgeous, to be sure, but shocking? Hell yes.

I’m not sure I’m ready to give up on my craggily structured coats, sweaters, skirts and muted tones. Thankfully, Penneys isn’t ready for me to do that either. Here are some of the gorgeous Spring pieces you can see in store now and soon.

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Jumpsuit in stores from  February

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Neoprene backpack in stores now

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Sheer dress available in store from March (shoes, bandeau and pants in the coming weeks)

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Sandals (in my opinion, a lot more publically wearable than Adidas Slides but still getting a good dose of monochrome)

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Grey quilted sweater and white visor, available now

I’ll dream about that sheer dress tonight.

Let’s make shapes

Ever heard of Rosa Rendl?

I stumbled across this Austrian snapper today. She’s been featured in publications like Another, Baron, Modern Matter, Tissue and Novembre. Her style is simple, working in a soft palette of pinks, mint greens, dusky blues and burned reds. What’s more notable though, is how she de-constructs everyday shapes to find new geometry, strange angular collisions in the space between objects and the meetings of walls.

Rendl’s talent lies in discovering the new in the mundane. Her eye finds satisfying combinations of colours and lines, resulting in pictures that don’t necessarily display their constituent parts in any identifiable way.

It’s easy to stroll through the natural world and stop seeing the beauty and form, to take what surrounds us for granted. Often we need to be reminded to stop and appreciate the millions of years of explosions, erosion, growth and rebirth, in a fantastic array of colours, to be thankful for a world that doesn’t just sustain us, but gives life a kaleidoscopic backdrop.

It seems gauche then to suggest we try and see that same beauty in man-made structures, in boxy rooms that follow a similar structure the world over. But as Rendl’s photos prove, there is beauty even in the most ordinary, the usual. It just takes a certain kind of viewpoint to see it – and we’re lucky she decided to share hers.

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All images from Rosarendl.com