Aarchetypal white shirt has always been omnipresent in a mans wardrobe. Since its inception almost 200 years ago, it has had an unadulterated presence in mans fashion symbolic of wealth and status. The change through which this singular fashion piece has undergone is significantly less, holding to its initial feel and elegance. Their history is extremely rich and poignant. Mostly it is untold with very few of us having a true idea of their natal. So tracing back their momentous walk down the road of fashion history, let us delve deep in the topic, appreciating them.
- The Victorian period was the time when things were changing rapidly. Industrial revolution had brought about a significant change in the lives of the people. With the introduction of machines, the clothes got a better finish. White shirts were no different. But the only fact that set them apart from their contemporaries was that they were highly symbolic of a persons status and social ranking. Arguably, people belonging to the working class avoided wearing them given that they did not want to stain the whiteness of the shirts. In fact, it can be noticed throughout that business men and employers of somewhat import wore them showcasing abstemiousness and sobriety. The term white collar possibly had its commencement during this time with detachable collars and cuffs available with the dress shirts. By the end the 1800s, wearing a classic white shirt was intricately correlated with masculinity.
- With the opening of the 1900s, the insignia of white shirts as a social symbol had diminished somewhat. The easily accessibility and affordability of this fashion piece was met with almost everyone sporting them. Men were expected to wear them to churches and workplace. It was no longer the colour of the cloth that distinguished between the social strata but the quality of the fabric used. So the upper class would wear something as expensive as the silk, meanwhile the coarse materials were preferred by the masses. The discretion continued till Prince of Wales, Edward the eight introduced a more experimenting and daring fashion trend in the world. This changed the face of menswear but little could it shake the strong foundation of the definitive white shirt.
- The time during the Second World War saw the white shirts being worn by the high ranking military officers. The fall in economy made them difficult to be acquired by the general public, thus retaining their principal characteristics of highlighting social significance. It was still believed to be figuratively masculine.
- After the war came to an end, rigid white shirts underwent a change. They were now worn as a piece of comfort clothing. The question of them providing comfort to the wearer was raised, which ended in many new fashion brands designing them for a more relaxed wear, though not compromising on the fashion front. The change in collar types was also notable witnessed. Ruffles were added and the width of the collars increased.
- The fashion industry was up for a spin during the disco period, read the 60s and the 70swith casual clothing making its way into the wardrobe of men all around the world. The importance of the white dress shirt was still prevalent as it was worn by the top notch business men as a representation of trust and worthiness. They were still seen as a proper piece of cloth that held its place in the fashion circuits without having to withstand the transformation towards more flashy clothing panache.
- Adapting to the romantic style of the power packed 80s was considerably difficult for the stoic white dress shirt. Laces and frills in place of the collars and cuffs were introduced with a number of male ballet performers wearing them on stage. This was probably the only time when the basic design of the shirt was disturbed only to be reverting to its original form pretty quickly.
- Modern incorporation of the mens shirt in the pristine shade of white could be seen in its original glory since the beginning of the 90s through the current day. With top designers and fashion brands letting them shine in their true form, they have once again returned to their early days, minus the social divisions, albeit more as a classy and elegant of mens clothing apparel.
Throughout the history, the white dress shirt has retained its permanent position in a mans wardrobe. They have successfully maintained their position without for once giving in to the ever changing dynamics of the fashion industry.
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