How a fashion editor and her mother are shopping for spring shirts

charlie and geri
Charlie, left, wears LK Bennett dress and Gucci shoes; Geri, right, wears Whistles dress and Swedish Hasbeens shoes Credit: Andrew Crowley

Does mum know best? A fashion editor and her mum on how they shop for shirts...

Charlie Gowans-Eglinton, 31 says:

Mum will say that I suit shirts, but anything with buttons makes me feel blousey – even when I size up (which usually means the shoulders are too big), the buttons are always sewn too far apart over the bust and end up gaping and I feel like Barbara Windsor dressed as a candy stripper. 

I’m also not one for cleavage, and controversially I think a high collar can be very flattering with a bust (I’m a D cup), though nothing that gathers or pleats across the front as that will add bulk. A slightly puffed shoulder or sleeve is also great for balancing you out, especially if you’re relatively narrow-shouldered, like me. This season’s scarf necks are perfect for event dressing – I’ve got a white silk Layeur blouse with a loose polo neck that looks great with wide leg trousers or full skirts.  

Mum likes to wear her shirts loose over 7/8ths trousers, but I always tuck my tops in (I even French-tuck my jumpers at the front), which dictates the fabrics that I look for. Cotton is too bulky to tuck and looks messy in minutes. I love silk, though I always shop a few sizes up as it can cling and reveal more than I’d like.

I like lightweight viscose or poly mixes as they don’t look tired after a long day, don’t cling, tuck easily and layer well. Baum und Pferdgarten has a lovely lightweight yellow paisley blouse that I’ve been wearing under a navy blazer for the office or just with a pair of black jeans for dinner with friends, and come payday I have my eye on this pretty Stine Goya blouse, which should prove just as handy – and not a pulling button in sight.

Stine Goya ruffle blouse, £170, The Modist; Polka dot shirt, £195, PS Paul Smith

Geri Gowans, 62 says:

I’m looking for a new blouse, now that it’s time to pack away the cashmere. It is going to get warmer – isn’t it? Charlie and I both suit shirts but so much of the tailoring is long and voluminous boyfriend shirts, and I’ve been shrinking since I was 45! I enjoyed the Nineties in the Nineties, and now I’d like a lot less fabric.

I have a lovely navy spot shirt that I’ve been wearing since Engelbert Humperdinck was a boy. I love that it finishes crisply on the hip with a straight hem. The neck doesn’t expose cleavage and the sleeve skims right over my wrinkly elbows. I think I’ve always found cleavage unattractive unless it looks incidental – you know, breasts that are sort of glimpsed rather than “served up” with firm support scaffolding.

Charlie, left, wears LK Bennett dress; Geri, right, wears Whistles dress Credit: Andrew Crowley 

I’m flirting with this Paul Smith shirt. The length looks perfect and I do love – yet another – spot. Paul Smith’s tailoring is always so flattering, and I love the monochrome pattern mix.

My ideal is silk or cotton, something that breathes. Easy care is a slippery slope after 50, whether it’s haircuts or fake grass. I’d rather iron for 10 minutes and spend the day in cotton than buy drip-dry and then just drip all day.

I’m avoiding frills, lace, embroideries and ribbons at the neck so I don’t end up channeling Bette Davis as Baby Jane when I’m popping out for a flat white. Shudder! I’ve never liked frills above the waist, though I have had some fabulous hemline frills. Skirts are easy. Why are blouses so hard? Perhaps I’ll try a smocked cheesecloth and swan about as if this were the tropics – the Seventies were great fun!