A Grey Silk Shirt Three Ways

37 items of clothing, 8 pairs of shoes, 3 bags

My grey silk shirt is a classic and one of the oldest items in my wardrobe. I bought it in Edinburgh close to four years ago at a popular brand store.

I was on the road for three months, and even though I had already bought way too much stuff, I continued to shop. When I used to travel, I enjoyed picking up clothing as mementos of the places I’d visited. That is something that has stopped since my seven month shopping fast. When I travel now I barely ever shop as I much prefer travelling light.

I really procrastinated about purchasing this shirt, which tells you how poorly tuned my shopping instincts were. I didn’t appreciate a classic, flexible item of clothing when I saw one. Unlike most of the other stuff I bought on that trip, it is a beautiful, well made, sturdy basic. I hope it lasts another four years.

Wearing a silk shirt is very different to wearing a cotton shirt. Here are some of the things to consider if you are thinking about purchasing one.

  • Consider your climate. Both cotton and silk are lightweight fabrics, excellent for warm weather. In summer both can be equally comfortable, however in winter, cotton in superior, retaining more warmth. Even here in Australia, I only tend to wear my silk shirt in spring and summer. If you are looking to keep a small wardrobe in the Northern Hemisphere, you might simply not get a lot of use out of one of these.
  • Consider your body shape. Silk shirts are soft and lack structure. A silk shirt slinks to fit your form. This can work for you or against you. If you aren’t a fan of your shoulders, perhaps you should avoid silk and opt for the more structured cotton shirt.
  • Consider flexibility (always, with any item of clothing). The softness of silk is an advantage if you want to style your shirt in different ways. The sleeves can be rolled up quite high, and the bottom can be tied at the waist without appearing bulky. In addition, silk works well with many styles. It looks great worn with both structured and relaxed silhouettes. A silk shirt can be styled in a clean and polished manner or a more bohemian, relaxed way. Being so light, silk shirts are champions at layering.
  • Consider the practicality of daily wear. A white or cream silk shirt will most certainly be very sheer. I have yet to come upon a light silk shirt that does not reveal the anatomy of my lingerie in detail. For this reason, a light coloured silk shirt may not be appropriate for all workplaces. Being a delicate fabric, silk can get pulls and damage quite easily. Silk shirts are also usually more expensive than the average cotton shirt, and require delicate or specialist cleaning. My shirt has been surprisingly resilient. I’ve ignored the ‘dry-clean only’ label and washed it in a wash bag on a ‘delicate’ cycle in the washing machine. I’ve even soaked it in a Varnish stain remover for up to 24 hours to remove massive oil marks. I can’t guarantee that your shirt might survive all this torture though.



Oh look, it’s my favourite shirt!


Soft fabric means rolling and tying things up without the appearance of bulk.


Layer a silk shirt with anything.


While I personally love my silk shirt, it may not be appropriate for everybody. Be realistic about whether a silk shirt is really for you. If it is, I guarantee you’ll love it.



  1. It’s interesting to me that I think I feel precisely your opposite about the climate for silk vs, cotton: I wear silk more in the cold months! I do live in New England in the USA (a true four season climate with snowy winters) so perhaps the silks available to me are heavier weight? I live in a layer of silk long underwear (beneath my “fashion layer”) from mid-October to May. I do choose mid-weight filament silk over finer weights in body layers. I also prefer heavier, sueded charmeuse for structured silk garments.

    My choice in cottons is invariably percale (more open weave) over sateen, in part because of breathability. I may always opt for lighter weights and weaves in cotton. (And I live in linen for summer.)

    I only dry clean lined woollens and structured (or painted) silks. I launder the rest at home, very carefully! I’m chemically sensitive, plus these fibers all pre-date modern dry cleaning.

    Liked by 1 person

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