When I think back to my school days, I remember the lengths I would go to in order to transform my uniform-grade white shirt. Nipping and twisting that bog-standard blueprint to within an inch of its life (the "stylist’s tuck" has nothing on the ingenuity of a teenager with authority issues), every day presented fresh opportunity to conjure something unique out of the mundane.

Some things never change… And while, nowadays, I can admit the value of a good, classic white shirt, my predilection towards something with a touch more drahhhhhmaaaaa has remained unaltered.

Abigail wears Haydn blouse by Preen by Thornton Bregazzi; cut-out skirt by Toga Archives; patent boots by aeydē; gold earrings by COS.

Spring/Summer 2019 brought with it a riot of detail-orientated alternatives with that all-important chutzpah. Preen by Thornton Bregazzi has always been a favourite of mine for its New Romantic ruffles and Victoriana nuances – both of which are in plentiful supply in this voluminous poet’s blouse. Crowned with a whip of creamy frills and trussed every which way by sweeping sashes that pull everything into place, the Haydn is the kind of piece one might have bought ironically for an Adam Ant Prince Charming costume before realising that it’s actually pretty darn spectacular for all-purpose wear. After all… Ridicule is nothing to be scared of.

Abigail wears Alberte blouse by Cecilie Bahnsen; cut-out skirt by Toga Archives; patent boots by aeydē; gold earrings by COS.

A capacious Cecilie Bahnsen blouse echoes this train of thought. Sharing its name with her signature taffeta Alberte dress, this feather-light cotton iteration has all of the painterly romance – and, ultimately, practicality – of an artist’s smock. You know, the kind that might be accessorised with a jaunty beret on a costume drama about the Bloomsbury Set.

Cecilie allows (no, actively encourages) her wearer to breathe and move, which is no mean feat when a pie-crust collar is involved. "It’s the balance of something super simple and super detailed that elevates it," she once told me of her brand’s aesthetic. And, in essence, this is my very attitude towards shirts: Sure, stark minimalism has its place in the world, but isn't there a whole lot more to be said in favour of a tasteful furbelow here and thither? 

Abigail wears ruched shirt by Label/Mix; cut-out skirt by Toga Archives; patent boots by aeydē; gold earrings by COS.

Of course, if you do tend towards the less-is-more school of thinking, a ruched Label/Mix number that puts all the drama to the rear is an elegant middle ground. Utility-inspired toggles that nod to sportswear are dual purpose in that not only do they deliver a talking-point detail, but they also serve to accentuate an hourglass out of a traditionally boxy silhouette. Now that's smart. 

Oh, if teenage Abigail could see me now…

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