Why are women wearing shirts the wrong way round?

  • Manali Shah, Hindustan Times, Mumbai
  • Updated: Apr 14, 2016 14:50 IST
Wearing a button down shirt backwards has been a huge street style trend internationally (Photo: Shitiz Ruhail)

Wearing your shirt backwards may sound like an outlandish idea. Until you realise women are actually doing it

The legendary British designer Alexander McQueen, in a 2009 interview with nymag.com, once proclaimed, “It’s a new era in fashion — there are no rules.” Certainly, the last few years have ushered in plenty of quirks. We’ve seen men dyeing their beards in funky green or blue and women sporting undercuts hidden by long hair.

The latest, in India, is a street style that was an international rage late last year. Women are wearing oversized button-down shirts backward. Yes, you read that right.

Earlier this week, TV actor Additi Gupta (she acts in the popular soap, Qubool Hai) posted a picture on her Instagram account which had her flaunting a white printed shirt worn the wrong way around.

Life Isn't perfect but your outfit can be !! Wearing a cotton printed shirt by @polofactory_ 🤘🏼

A photo posted by Additi Gupta (@additigupta) on

“High necks are back in fashion. This is spin-off on that,” analyses Archana Walavalkar, co-founder of stylecracker.com, a personal styling platform.

Fashion blogger Pallavi Ruhail (she blogs at thatdelhigirl.com and runs an online magazine tdgmag.com) made a post that showed her teaming a fitted black skirt with a shirt worn backward. “I keep a close eye on what’s happening in the west, and part of my job is to try it out myself. I also keep thinking of ways to reinvent what’s already in my closet.”

Champions of the style say the merits are manifold: it’s comfortable, there’s no real need to buy a new shirt — borrowing from your father or SO (significant other, in social media lingo) is recommended, and can be styled in different ways. Bonus: You can eat a big lunch and not worry about bursting at the seams. And if you have concerns about looking like you’ve left the house in a hurry, you’ll find Mumbai doesn’t really care (see box for our first-hand experience).

This month, Hyderabad-based fashion blogger Pallavi Ruhail teamed a skirt with a shirt worn backward, for her blog, That Delhi Girl (Photo: Shitiz Ruhail)

The trend, or fad, found mainstream fashion sanction at the recent Lakmé Fashion Week (LFW). Model Smita Lasrado sport her shirt backward, while off the ramp. The Mumbai girl who’s walked the ramp for big ticket brands in Milan and Paris, says, “My friend, stylist Santu Misra gave me a shirt and asked if I could wear it during LFW. I was more than happy to. However, since I knew at least five other people would be wearing the shirt the next day, I didn’t want to wear it the conventional way.”

Also read: Nose rings on men: Fad? Or the hottest new trend?

But is it a trend that’ll catch on, or a passing fad that’ll be forgotten all too soon? While Lasrado questions if it’s even a trend, Walavalkar is more optimistic: “I’m sure designers are putting it down in their collections even as we speak.”

If you’re going to do it, do it right

Go for simpler styles if the trend is too experimental for you. Start simple with denim, pinstripes or solid coloured shirts.

Go for obvious button-down style shirts. Don’t opt for hidden plackets.

Feel free to experiment with separates. This is one trend you can pair with almost anything and everything - from ripped skinny jeans, to flares to boyfriend to coulottes and even flared skirts.

Experiment with styling it - you can wear it tucked in or out, with the collar buttoned up and rest open or the last three buttons closed and the back open. You can even simply tie a knot at the back instead of buttoning it up at all.

@santumisra1 @aiman_hq ♥️

A photo posted by @smitalasrado on

Accessorise a bare back with long lariat necklaces.

Don’t leave your hair open. Opt for a cool, urban look like a messy top knot or a half bun to accentuate the details.

Don’t stick to just button-down shirts. You can even work this look with an over-sized shirt dress, button-down tunics and kurtas.

— By Archana Walavalkar, co-founder, StyleCracker.com

Trial run

“I wore my father’s checked shirt to R City Mall, Ghatkopar. I got second looks from intrigued passers-by but it was nothing that seemed to overly shock them at first glance. The maximum attention I got was on elevators and escalators, where people are otherwise idle. I was the subject of a giggled conversation between three teenagers, who promptly looked away when I caught them staring in my direction. Largely, however, people did not care.

How it felt: As exciting as it was to wear the shirt the other way round, it was significantly uncomfortable to sport the garment for four straight hours. The collar would often tighten around my neck and rub against my chin, causing it to redden with irritation.”

— Poorva Joshi

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