When Carrie Symmonds released an image yesterday on Instagram of herself and her seven-month old son Wilf, most people cooed over the adorable blond baby. But on the Telegraph fashion desk, we were more likely to admire her round-collar, puff-sleeve cream blouse.
Shirts were big this year – in all senses of the word. Whether it was Eighties-style Peter Pan collars, perfect pie-crust necklines, or oversized sleeves with neat cuffs, blouses came with the sort of styling additions that illustrated the extent of their reputational overhaul.
For years, shirts have been a forgettable accessory to be paired with a glitzy skirt or print trousers, but this year saw them become the star attraction. Labelled the biggest trend of 2020, big collar energy has been hard to ignore, with the ‘look at me’ blouse becoming a staple in the wardrobes of almost every fashion editor and Instagram influencer.
These have ranged from those lucky enough to find a perfect vintage version, to Rixo's embroidered numbers and Miu Miu's delightfully exaggerated styles.
Ultra-feminine and fairly fussy, these are the sort of shirts that should make you think of The Little House on the Prairie or Little Women. Or more recently, of a wardrobe that has captivated the nation since the release of The Crown: Princess Diana in her Eighties heyday when each collar was bigger than the last.
Daisy top, £69, Ghost
Much like Carrie’s choice here – which is similar to this silk one from & Other Stories (£95) – these oversized styles look great in neutral colours like white, cream or pale blue. Often made from cotton, they are the ideal update to your wardrobe and pair perfectly with a leather skirt or velvet trousers at Christmas. Or be bold and take your favourite large neck collar in a colourful direction, with brands like La Veste and Batsheva proving they look just as dazzling in jewel tones.
And while Carrie’s blouse references royal fashion stars of the past, it also bears a striking resemblance to a shirt worn more recently by one of the Windsors.
Silk blouse, £95, & Other Stories
Ten days ago, the Duchess of Sussex made an appearance on American television network CNN, and chose to revert back to the polished style that she established during her time as a working member of the British Royal family. Her silk shirt, which came in a neutral mink colour, had a high neckline and long sleeves.
As my colleague Caroline Leaper pointed out, it was also reminiscent of a blouse worn by the young Lady Diana Spencer, announcing her engagement to Prince Charles in 1981 - a look which has been expertly copied in the current series of The Crown.
In Carrie’s Instagram post, she chose to highlight the Christmas Together campaign saying, "Earlier today I spoke with another amazing woman in her 80s who hasn't been able to leave her home much this year. Despite that, she was in good spirits and having just had the vaccine, was looking forward to her weekly lunch club. Speaking to her (with Wilf gurgling away on my lap!) made my day.”
Many of us will have to work harder than usual to find joy in this socially distant Christmas – but a cheerfully over-the-top collar is a good way to put a smile on your face.