On Tuesday, August 23rd, WWD’s cover story “Match Point” was an ode to pared down, almost ‘Plain Jane’ uniform dressing and specifically, the universal, timelessly chic appeal of two wardrobe basics (the white shirt and the black skirt). Certainly, it’s hard to argue with the notion that after so much “flou and flounce”, “chic essentials” (as they put it) are starting to look really good right now.
Call it what you will; the ‘new minimalism’ perhaps? (Dare I say the dreaded ‘M’ word?) But dreaded, it’s no longer, as touched upon by Cathy Horyn in her Thursday ‘Style’ cover story (“Who’s Afraid of Minimalism?”) about fall fashion’s return to sobriety, underdone elegance, and restraint. This is not the funeral, robotic minimalism of the 90’s, but a more wearable, personal, and thoughtful one.
With the cool weather approaching, most of us are getting back to business, which (thankfully) necessitates having to wear real clothes (and leave behind those beach friendly tank tops, shorts, and flip flops). If you’re not quite ready for something all too serious (like a suit) and the balmy weather does not justify having to wear one, what better way to ease into the new season than with this winning, great looking, and cool combination?
I won’t argue with the ‘Great White Shirt Theory’ (white shirts always merit collecting and hunting down). On the other hand, don’t underestimate the appeal of variations on the theme, namely menswear inspired haberdashery versions which are a wonderful alternative. Like their white counterparts, they never go out of style, are seasonless, weightless, can travel anywhere in the world, anytime of the year, and effortlessly go from day to night. Simply put, they are insurance pieces, because you can always count on them in a pinch.
What if I told you I know where you can find what may well be the best shirts on the planet? I’m referring to Julia, a shop in Greenwich Connecticut (70 Arch Street, 203 422 2216, www.juliaboutique.com) which is dedicated
Julia Berger started out as a purveyor of fine Italian made linens and her business has evolved from there. She now sells infant and children’s wear, fine antiques, home décor, accessories, and just this past spring, added a well edited line of hand tailored shirts for men and women. Most impressive are her distinctive, feminized interpretations of the traditional and classic man’s bespoke shirt which perfectly capture the essence of that ‘boy meets girl’ sensibility which is so modern.
What makes Julia’s shirts, which are made in Florence and Milan, so special? The amazing couture like fit (she will proudly tell you, “Nobody makes shirts like this anywhere in the world”), the use of the highest quality fabrics (100% cotton and cotton stretch), a flawless color sense, and the attention to detail (such as contrasting collars and cuffs) which help justify the price ($395).
Amongst those things, for example, that set Julia apart from say, Anne Fontaine (www.annefontaine.com), a French designer who put herself on the map with her endless incarnations of that traditional white shirt, Ms. Fontaine’s are unapologetically ‘fashion-y’, often girlie, and self consciously high styled, while Ms. Berger’s are thoroughly classic in their menswear tone with no frou, no tricky details. The only thing feminine about them is the cut.
Currently, there are about 6 different versions for men (which are sized from small to extra, extra large) and 25 for women (European sizes 38 – 54), and while there are solids, there are far more prints (stripes, dots, tattersalls). FYI, Julia does have an all white version as well (which she likens to a tuxedo shirt), made from white pique and trimmed with white sateen. My best guess is after you buy one, you’ll be hooked!
– Marilyn Kirschner