Back in the day, Gap used to be fabulous. Light years before Uniqlo took over cheerful casual dressing, Gap had everything you needed for stylish weekend dressing plus a splash of Californian cheer. Original supermodels looked chic in the capris, it had thick white cotton T shirts, great jeans (before we all went designer-denim) and brilliant kids clothes. Then it all went global with a made-by-the-million quality and became a pale shadow of itself.
Because of that, I hadn’t been into Gap for ages until last week, but remembering that COS’s ex creative director Rebekka Bay had moved to the brand last October and having five minutes to spare, I nipped into the Regent Street branch check it out. Rebekka’s influence wont be evident in full until next spring, but things are definitely looking a little better and I was very taken with the shirts.
I am currently having a summer wardrobe shift to well-cut shirts. Where a T shirt clings and sags over my less toned bits, a shirt adds a much crisper line and hints at elegance rather than mumsiness. It can be hard to stay chic in the summer sun and a loosely cut shirt wins hands down over sweat-dampened jersey. They are also cool to wear if you are suffering from boring hot flushes and just somehow look more sartorially grown up.
Not all shirts are equal however; fabric, cut and styling are big factors, which brings me back to Gap’s current range. They are surprisingly good – shapes are varied, they are made from nice cotton and there’s some great, wearable prints that would slot right into your wardrobe. The colours border on the classic but are not dull.
Being Gap, there’s a definite casual vibe, but they are not without a touch of style. I picked out two that worked for me, a roomy paisley print cotton one and a pretty, slimmer fit gingham check boyfriend style.
The paisley print one is made from a lovely soft cotton and is £34.95. Previously Gap’s shirts have come in lifeless fabric that looks like the spirit has been well and truly beaten out of it, but this is a good weight and has a soft bounce. It’s generous in size and I think you’re supposed to roll the sleeves up as they aren’t overly long in the arm, but thankfully they don’t have those stupid tabs half way up, like nearly every other shirt seems to have currently. It looks much more modern done right up to the top button too.
The back neck label says its from the Designed and Crafted collection, any resemblance to Levi’s super-cool Made & Crafted range entirely coincidental, I’m sure.
Then there’s this gingham shirt which is a slimmer fit and made from very soft and light cotton, which would be ideal in hot weather, if you remember what that is. I have a massive soft spot for gingham, yes it’s school uniform-y but it’s also very fresh and cute and has an ‘I’m on holiday in the South of France in my head’ vibe which I find irresistible. It’s a classic in this cobalt blue too, perfect with wide-leg linen trousers in navy or white or cut off capris in bright colours
I couldn’t find this style on line, so you might need to visit a store, if you do then look out for the cute bicycle print in apple green or the neon pink or orange irregular polka dot print too. They are all around the same £34.95 price point.
Meanwhile if you want a sneak peak at how Rebekka is influencing Gap for Autumn 2013, Fashionista has the inside story here.