The year is 1998; the location is the school library at Cambridge High School. My class is sitting cross-legged on the carpet watching Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo + Juliet for our English class (it had already been out for two years). I’m just going to call it – Leonardo DiCaprio was at peak hotness and we were defenceless against him. I remember one of the boys saying “urgh, do you think he’s hot or something” and I realised in that moment how deeply uncomfortable those 14 and 15 year old boys were by how much raging oestrogen was swilling around. There was much sniggering.
I bought the soundtrack (on cassette tape! Jaysus) and listened to it excessively. I pored over the insert because mostly what I loved was how it all looked (also a feature of later and earlier works by Mr Baz). I thought, and think, that the story of Romeo and Juliet is absolutely bloody stupid but in that film I could almost believe that people would be that impractical. The men’s fashion was pretty much the only time I’ve cared about what a man was wearing (only other exception: the many tshirts of Dwayne Johnson). The Capulets were darkly sinister and sexy; the Montagues were flamboyant bad boys in bright prints. All of it seared itself onto my fashion retina and it never, ever left. I’ve Google Image searched that film multiple times a year for at least a decade.
God, I love the way the men in this film dress. The Capulet men have inspired me time and again with their Dolce looks, that cowboy twist of swagger and sex. However, when I saw this shirt from Salasai, it was the Montagues I remembered. Undoubtedly helped by the fact that this shirt also contains religious iconography that also reminds me of the styling of this film (shout out also to my secular upbringing), as soon as I saw it I felt like it was familiar. And so, months later, courtesy of the sales, I fed my Romeo + Juliet obsession.
I kept it low key here, with jeans and a pair of red heels to mirror the red in the shirt. Later in the day, I wore it open over a white tshirt, and in that moment found my new favourite summer look. It’s all men’s shirts over tshirts this year, watch out workmates because I’m bringing that to a casual Friday near you soon. Imagine my vintage Hawaiian shirt over a white tshirt with denim shorts and some slides – parfait deluxe! I love that a film I watched 20 years ago can be having such a direct influence over my style as a 35 year old, and I particularly love that it’s not Claire Danes’ outfits that have stuck with me. From memory she wore a lot of white, and there’s that one truly excellent scene with her in the beret with a gun. I solemnly swear that I will never, ever wear a beret. My head was not made for hats.
I think it’s time for me to revisit visual inspiration from my past, and I think I’ll start by rewatching this film from start to finish, then move on to my other huge love in my teen years – Buffy the Vampire Slayer. They’re remaking it, but I’m keeping it pure Sarah Michelle Gellar (oh my gosh, Spike and Drusilla – if they can’t inspire me, I’m dead inside). What cinematic genius inspired or inflamed you as a teen, and what do you think of my “men’s shirts over tshirts” look for spring/summer? Should I buy some cargo shorts or a pair of Dickies and go all in? Let me know in the comments.
This shirt is available here - enter the code SALASALE to get 40% off (nothing to do with me, just how Salasai runs their sale section of their site)