I recently had the pleasure of talking to fashion designer Merit Lookene of Ella Hopfeldt. Merit and her partner Marion Paavel founded their dress shirt brand for women a few years ago and are now enjoying international success with their products being delivered to women all over the world.
My aim was to talk to Merit about the two most important dress shirts in every woman’s wardrobe: the white and the blue. Read on to learn more about how and when to wear these best-sellers.
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What is your opinion on the women’s white shirt?
White shirt is an all-time classic. It is something that every woman could use to wear to the office, after-work drinks, restaurants – in short, to all types of work and social events.
The best thing about the white shirt is that it is simple and sophisticated at the same time. It has the effortless elegance that helps anyone feel at ease and look like they didn’t have to try hard to be chic. Simultaneously, it leaves nothing to be desired in terms of style and polish.
It is therefore no wonder that the white shirt is one of the iconic items in women’s wardrobes and the best-seller among all women’s dress shirts.
Do you have any advice for women who are looking to buy a white shirt?
I would say, look for the quality. Since most women (including the staff of your local Italian restaurant) own some version of the white shirt, you would want yours to be special and to stand out in a positive way.
High quality means a combination of things – it is everything from the quality of the shirt fabric to the craftsmanship and attention to detail. Another important aspect is the fit. A well-fitting white shirt will lift you up while an ill-fitting one will pull you down.
To me, the purpose of the white dress shirt is to make me look impeccable and classy. Which is why it doesn’t make any sense to settle for something mediocre.
What is your favorite way to wear the white shirt?
Since I don’t work in the office, my style is pretty relaxed. I love wearing jeans and the combination of jeans, a dress shirt and a blazer is more or less my uniform. The white shirt dresses up the jeans nicely, pairs perfectly with the blazer, and brings the outfit to a nice equilibrium.
I have two different styles of white shirts: an easy-care one for day-to-day wear and a French cuff shirt for more special occasions.
You are also an advocate of the blue dress shirt – why is that?
Blue is a beautiful color that works well for a lot of women. The light blue shirt similarly to the white one, is super easy to combine and extremely versatile. It pairs well with most other colors and can be worn for a multitude of occasions.
I always recommend the light blue shirt because it is an ingenious way to bring some color and variety into the wardrobe and into the outfits. Moreover, whereas most women are likely to own a white dress shirt, not that many have outstanding blue shirts.
A light blue shirt is therefore sure to make anyone stand out in a crowd in a subtle yet elegant manner.
Isn’t a blue shirt too ordinary and ubiquitous?
It depends on the blue shirt. A bland blue shirt that is made of low-quality fabric can easily look dull and ubiquitous. Any such shirt is better left in the store and out of the wardrobe.
With the blue shirt fabric really is the key. In Ella Hopfeldt, for instance, we only use premium quality blue fabrics that also have some texture. The subtle luster of high-quality fabric gives a luxurious look and feel to the shirt and the texture adds a fair amount of visual interest to the overall appearance.
Eye-catching details like French cuffs can also make the blue shirt more striking. French cuffs need to be worn with cufflinks and these are certain to give a large dose of additional charm and elegance to the shirt.
You have talked about the light blue shirt but what do you think of a dark blue one?
When I think of a blue shirt, light blue is always the first to come to mind. It’s probably because lighter colors are generally more versatile and really fool-proof to combine with almost everything else in the wardrobe.
Having said that, I personally think that a navy-blue dress shirt is also a worth-while investment. It is timeless and polished, more forgiving than black and flattering for daytime or nighttime.
When do you recommend wearing the white shirt and when the blue one?
Provided that the white and blue shirts are of equally high quality, I would recommend choosing whichever takes the fancy on any given day.
Generally, the white shirt makes any outfit look slightly more formal. For instance, a combination of the white shirt with a navy blazer definitely has a more formal tone to it than the combination of the same blazer with a light blue shirt.
What I personally like about the light blue shirt with French cuffs is the small controversy it creates: the blue color implies a more relaxed mood, but the overall appearance of the shirt still speaks of utmost elegance and refinement. I often find myself picking the light blue shirt over the white one because it is equally suited for most occasions but perhaps slightly more imaginative.
Ella Hopfeldt offers both white and blue shirts for women. What makes your shirts so special?
I’d like to think that there are two principal things about Ella Hopfeldt shirts that make them stand out.
Firstly, we don’t compromise on quality. We only use premium quality fabrics, and our manufacturing is done in Europe at a factory specialized in producing dress shirts. Quality control is the key component of the manufacturing process ensuring that our shirts comply with our quality requirements.
Secondly, we have developed a unique fit system in our pursuit to offer better fitting shirts for women. Women have different body shapes, and they need differently tailored shirts. Our fit system is based on unique sizing where body shape and size make up each of our four shirt fits. With the help of our fit quiz it is easy to find a shirt that looks as if it was tailored for your body.