the how-to: silk shirts

I’ve been absolutely obsessed with silk this spring.  I don’t know what’s come over me, but suddenly, I can’t resist a pretty silk blouse, in any incarnation.  So, when a few of you emailed me, asking various and sundry questions about how to work this trend, I couldn’t resist chalking my recent purchases up to “research”, and giving you all the info you could ever want on the best of the best.

First, don’t be scared. Silk feels so precious sometimes, but you have to let go of that.  Embrace it, acknowledge there will be drycleaning involved, and wear it with abandon.  (But maybe don’t cook dinner in it.)

Second, size up.  Or at least, size so that your silk is loose, drapey and relaxed in fit.  Fitted silk is a much harder look to pull off, it’s not comfortable, and it’s all wrong for summer.  Because silk tends to flow so well over curves, you don’t have to worry about being swallowed up by a top that isn’t form-fitting, as you would with other fabrics.  Trust me: buy loose, and let the fabric work for you!

With that said, I’ll give you a rundown of the styles that are in heavy rotation in my closet this year.  First up is Equipment.  They’re infamous for making some of the best classic silk shirts ever – soft and luxe, with the perfect amount of substance.  They come in so many colors and patterns, you’ll never have enough.  I particularly love their Signature blouse, because it’s a bit longer than some styles, which translates to more styling options.  While a long-sleeved blouse may not feel like a summer buy, just roll up the sleeves to your elbow, and pair it with a white tank and cutoffs – silk has this wonderful ability to act like built-in air conditioning when it’s left open and breezy.  I also can’t help thinking this would be amazing with a crinkled linen jacket belted over the top.  Yes, you can get the look for less from J.Crew or Madewell, but a silk shirt is only as good as its drape. It’s worth the splurge to get this one right.

Best for: Girls with busts!  The relaxed cut means more room up top, so you’ll actually be able to button it.  I do find it makes my shoulders look a bit broader, but I’m telling myself it’s not a big problem.

Sizing tip: These are supposed to have a relaxed fit, so sizes runs true – I’m a 10, and ordered a medium. It’s the teeniest bit snug in the hips, but I wouldn’t have been able to go up a size.  So, just leave the bottom button undone, and all’s well.

Equipment signature silk blouse, $188-238.

My second love of late has been Tucker.  Their tunics are just so full of color and fun, I can’t help but be happy when I’m wearing them.  Like Equipment, their pieces come in all sorts of fun shapes and patterns (though almost never a solid color).  But, as usual, I prefer their signature style – in this case, The Tunic.  If you’re on the petite side, this could even work as a mini-dress, but since I’m 5’8″, it’s not happening.  These are an investment, but if you’re watchful, you might spot them on Gilt occasionally (ahem…that may or may not be a contraband link…take advantage of it!).

Best for: Everyone! I think these are gorgeous with or without curves, and regardless of height.  (And the little bit of stretch in these styles doesn’t hurt either.)

Sizing tip: I do suggest sizing up on the tunic style if you have curves, as they run very straight.  I went for a large in this style…the medium was just barely too small for my, um, curvier areas.

Tucker Tunic in Trimpin Pond Song, $315; Tucker Tunic in Funny French Birds, $315.

Of course, with summer coming, short sleeved and sleeveless options are a must. If you’re after a loose, breezy option (that won’t break the bank), I recently checked out the styles from Show Me Your Mumu.  They’re polyester, not silk, so they’re an honorary mention here.  They don’t drape like silk, but they’re adorable…if a bit on the hippie side of life.  With unfinished hems designed to fray, and a very loose fit, you might find these best suited for beach cover-up status – but since they’re poly, they’ll do the job in plenty of style (and for under $100). I do think they can be pulled off as a layering piece, but they’re sheer and quite low cut, so you’ll definitely be happier with a tank (or a two-piece) underneath.

Best for: The girls you see here modeling.  Narrow shoulders, smaller chest – the cut adds some breadth to the shoulder/chest area, so if you’re already good in that area, this might not be for you.

Sizing tip: One size fits all…or at least up to a 14, I’d say.

Show Me Your MuMu in Turn The Corner, $80; Original Mumu in I Dream of Zebra, $98

But really, my favorite spot for short-sleeved summer layers is Anthropologie.  They have some gorgeous options this year…I swoon over each and every one.

Pellucid Wings silk blouse, $128; Blazing blouse, $98 (not pictured); Koinobori tank, $78.

So, I’d love to know whether you’ve already been embracing the silk route, or if you’re thinking about diving in now.  Talk to me in the comments, won’t you?

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