Object of the week: the oversized shirt
What it is:
The oversized shirt, an airy silhouette with an abundance of style possibilities, has become an essential wardrobe addition for all genders. What was once a tailored piece most often associated with formal wear and suits, has morphed into a looser form for those looking to take on a relaxed take on the style. While the oversized button-up shirt doesn’t necessarily have a specific history (oversized clothing in general didn’t become mainstream until the 1920s), it has long been at the forefront of iconic pop culture looks. From Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s to Angelina Jolie in Mr and Mrs Smith to Julia Roberts in Pretty Women, the baggy style has had a huge impact on Hollywood cinema. However, while it was often portrayed as exuding a bit of sex appeal, the oversized shirt was also portrayed as a tool of power for women. These days, style is less of a status piece and more of a driving force behind genderless clothing, embraced by many different style sectors, from streetwear to high-end designer.
Why you’ll want it:
With a number of current trends leaning towards a more comfort-oriented approach to fashion, the oversized shirt fits well into these new consumer lifestyle movements. Many have taken the pandemic as a sign to convert to a more casual wardrobe direction and would therefore welcome a loose addition. Its cut also allows it to be a seasonless garment, making it a great investment for shoppers looking for an item that can stay with them all year round. It’s this versatility that sets it apart from typical button-up designs, allowing it to appeal to many different market segments, from young shoppers to occasional shoppers to those simply looking for a comfortable and stylish alternative. The different styles and fits ensure that for nearly every shopper there is an oversized shirt option that works with the retailer’s message, aesthetic and target group.
Where we saw it:
If there was one designer who fully dominated this trend, it was Raf Simons, who for his SS22 show showcased a range of long, oversized shirts, taking typically formal design into a new, unconventional realm. Genderless button-up shirts consisted of exaggerated proportions, with puffy cuffs and collars sitting alongside elongated torsos and sleeves. Upon his return to the catwalks, Salvatore Ferragamo also embraced the popular silhouette, this time opting for both formal and casual shapes. A dropped shoulder look, reminiscent of a bowling shirt cut, was decorated with a bold floral print, while a more formal button up featured an alternative shape thanks to a layered sleeveless knit. Valentino was another to explore the oversized shirt in its Rendez-Vous collection, which aimed to convey a streetwear proposition that contrasted with the brand’s typical direction. Shirts often took on an almost sartorial form, just above the knees, in a seemingly tailored but not tailored appearance. The striking prints drew their influences from vintage design aesthetics, bringing each shirt to life either as stand-alone items or in a bold ensemble.
How to style it:
Depending on the season, the oversized shirt presents many different styling possibilities for the wearer. In summer, the article can be used both as a beachwear or as a dressy nightwear. In hot weather, wear the shirt open and wear it with a swimsuit or, for an everyday look, denim shorts and a colorful cardigan. During the cooler months, wear the style with a fitted turtleneck underneath and loose jeans or casual pants for a simple yet stylish daytime look. The shape can be partially tucked in or completely loose. Evening wear can consist of a fitted skirt above the knee and strappy heels, elevating the shirt and giving it a dressier silhouette. However, if the wearer is looking for something closer to a relaxed fit, consider pairing the oversized shirt with fitted pants that also retain a relaxed essence – either loose or with a relaxed pattern.
The oversized shirt, with its iconic past connotations and contemporary gendered form, is a simple item that still holds a lot of value as an investment for consumers, thanks in part to its versatility. As an ingenious addition to the wardrobe, the shirt is capable of appealing to a wide clientele, with limitless design options that allow it to find a place in almost all fashion sectors.