This Summer, It’s All About an Oversize Shirt

by Sarah Mower, VoguePhoto courtesy of CélinePhoto courtesy of Céline

We've heard about shorts. We've wondered about crop-tops. But isn't it time we take note of the fact that the big shirt has suddenly shot up in the 2012 hierarchy of day-to-day spring chic? Put it this way: Only a couple of years ago, the very suggestion of wearing an oversize, long-sleeved shirt, worn untucked, with tails flying, would have made most fashion-conscious women flinch. Now, though, thanks to a subtle switch in perception, we find ourselves of the opinion that upper-body coverage-buttoned-up necks, long sleeves, and an elongated, waist-de-emphasizing volume-are 100 percent desirable. And lo, this job description is ideally filled by the big shirt. Thanks to Céline, Rag & Bone, DKNY, Givenchy, J.Crew, and a slew of young designers, the overscale shirt is now in full active service on many fashion fronts.

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The status makeover has, of course, involved crucial tweaks. What began as a men's staple has undergone endless creative twiddles before emerging as a female favorite. The fabric's been enhanced, prints have been played with, the shoulders narrowed, the cuffs lengthened, and the shirttail exaggerated to the point that it flows and flutters insouciantly in the breeze as its wearer strides along sidewalks and through corridors.

Sometimes, big shirts play a role in summer's new ways of layering, their cuffs and tails left peeking out of and trailing behind the ubiquitous blazer. Amongst the countless design permutations-echoing men's dress shirts, banker's stripes, pajama tops, Hawaiian prints, djellaba-inspired, Western styling, and almost every other hybrid imaginable-there's a shirt for almost every occasion, age, and way of life. Often, you'll find, when paired with the right accessories, the smartened-up, outsize shirt has enough fashion presence to walk into meetings, dinners, and evening events, rendering a jacket unnecessary. And for those looking further into the future, there's more mileage ahead: Big shirts will be playing a role in the scaling-up of proportions for fall, too. Buy now, and be prepared.

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