You always notice the person wearing a great shirt. A classic that, for me, holds just as much appeal as a perfect pair of jeans. Shirt Stories is about others who feel the same, women and men, and who wear it well.
At the height of summer, I am turning to travel writer Francisca Mattéoli for a different kind of conversation. We discussed about travel, books and non-profit organizations on our previous talks on the blog (here and here), and while we touched the subject of style on both occasions, this time I wanted to delve deeper into it. Because style is part of who you are, whoever you are. Because Francisca is a woman of style. Because she stands out in simple, bright white. Because she really lives in her clothes. And because, even when she talks about style, she can inspire wanderlust in us all. Here, she gives her rules and inspirations for embracing the white shirt wherever you are and for always packing one in your bag.
Your signature shirt is:
Brand: Banana Republic or J.Crew
Always: worn with jeans, and sometimes a pencil skirt
Never: worn with mini skirts, which I never wear
Each of your travels has its own story. Which is the shirt with the most beautiful story attached to it?
Maybe when I arrived in L.A. after a week of sailing. I had to attend a last minute friend’s wedding, but only had swimming suits and sandals left to wear. It was going to be quite a sophisticated occasion. Luckily, my husband had a white shirt among his things. I took it, unbuttoned the last tree buttons and knotted it. It looked great over a pair of dark pants (which I borrowed). Word of advice: always take a white shirt with you wherever you go!
“You feel better when you dress well. I also think it is a way of showing respect.”
Do you often borrow your husband’s shirts? Do you feel different when wearing one?
As mentioned above, one my favorite shirts used to belong to my husband. And I still often borrow his shirts. I like the fitting, the attitude they project (cool and elegant at the same time) – I feel feminine, but not girly, and you can create so many different looks with a man’s shirt. Surely, one of the best ways to look stylish and confident – for me at least!
Which is the most faraway place you wore your shirt?
All the places where I went with my husband for our humanitarian organization “Chirurgie Plus”, such as Cambodia, Benin, Sri Lanka, Rwanda and, more recently, Madagascar.
What are you looking for in a shirt?
Excellent fabrics and quality. I believe that if you wear something simple, it’s how the fabric looks and feels that ultimately really matters.
Are there any other classic pieces of clothing you can’t live without?
Jeans and good blazers, I guess.
What would you like your clothes (and shirt) to tell about you when you meet someone for the first time?
I’d like the person I meet to think “Wow!”.
Are clothes important? How and why?
Yes, clothes definitely are important, although they are not an obsession or a goal in life. They express what you want to say to others. They reflect an individual culture, personality, preferences, and also, very often, they show how you feel. Have you noticed that when we feel confident and happy, we dress better than when we are gloomy and sad (well, normally…)? It works the opposite way, too. You feel better when you dress well. I also think it is a way of showing respect. For instance, when I go to a party or a dinner, I always wear something nice. It shows that I am happy to be there and it is also my way of saying thank you for the invitation. And an evening is always more successful with people who are looking their best and transmitting good vibes.
How do your style and your profession work together?
I am lucky because I never had to change my style too much for work. I don’t have a “professional style”. Of course, I adopt a different attitude depending on the circumstances but, as a writer, and particularly a travel writer, I can wear what I want. Sometimes I’ll wear something simple and casual, and, other times, something more sophisticated. It’s a question of common sense and education, I suppose. In fact, my style matches the kind of people I work with, and we work together because we have the same attitude towards life (and that includes style).
Is there any question you would like to be asked more often when it comes to your personal style?
Maybe the following one: “Has your upbringing influenced your style?” Personally, I believe so. We are all the result of our environment and I think elegance, style and good manners go together – they also make the world a better place. I grew up in a family where we appreciate courtesy, consideration and refinement. We like to think that elegance goes with simplicity, a positive and unfussy attitude, but cool and classical clothing. I am half Scottish, half Chilean, so I suppose I took from both sides!
PS: The English version of Francisca Mattéoli’s latest book, Map Stories: The Art of Discovery (first published in French, last autumn), will be out this October.
Related entries Shirt Stories: Heidi Merrick / Chloe Lonsdale / Clare Waight Keller
photos: Julio Piatti, courtesy of Francisca Mattéoli