Yes Sir, Once More
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Fashion's big nod to the secretary blouse is taking our favourite shirt into the summer.
Each of my buys over the last few months has been either a shirt, or things that I can wear with shirts. The secretary shirt in particular. It has been Fall fashion's favourite item and we can't seem to have enough of it.
A mall trawl shows that the high-street stores — Zara, Vero Moda and Mango — are filled with them. Rohit Gandhi and Rahul Khanna's Cue label sees this as a classic and often has it on their racks. Sabyasachi Mukherjee, who adores all things vintage, has done a beautiful rendition in black with embroidered shoulders: it sells at his Sabyasachi by Sabyasachi couture line for under Rs 15,000, which is a very comfortable price indeed.
The secretary blouse is essentially a vintage shirt. It's also called the Pussy Bow blouse, for its soft and floppy tie-up, or an Ascot shirt, for its popularity at the British equestrian races. In the '70s and '80s, when it enjoyed a revival courtesy Yves Saint Laurent, it was especially made in polyester and silk, but now it is sheer chiffon that rules retail.
In 1968, Saint Laurent made a black chiffon see-through dress, trimmed with ostrich feathers and a snake belt. Since he was an agent provocateur of sorts, the raw nakedness of this theme was carried forward to the next decade. He reprised the theme in 1971 with a cocktail dress, and when he created the iconic trouser suit for women, the sheer blouse was naturally a part of the collection.
So huge is the blouse's comeback that even the US T-shirt giant, American Apparel, has a large collection in candy colours. Yes, they have also made their way to J Crew and Gap.
Since we are largely conservative dressers in India, our chiffon blouses are accompanied by strappy vests for inners. Nonetheless, the chic-ness remains intact. We're wearing our blouses with skinny jeans and pencil skirts-long and short. And we're taking this style into the summer too, with June's next big shape: the Bermuda shorts.