Week 34: LBD and the customised shirt

In week 34 of the Little Black Dress (LBD) project, inspired by the designer of my LBD, I explore the idea of office-worker-frustration and give into the feeling of simply wishing to tear up one’s business shirt!

Dearest BusiChic,

Have you ever wanted to tear up your work top as Michael Jackson did over and over the course of his music career?

I can’t say that I’ve really wanted to myself, however after coming across this photo of Bento designer, Samantha Hardman; well, I became fixated with the thought of finding a business shirt to tear up!

Samantha Hardman of Bento at Spirit of the Black Dress earlier this year. She wears a long-sleeved LBD with a detachable collar that she fashioned from a man’s shirt; the inspiration for this week’s styling! Photo: Kellie Dene

So one day in my lunchbreak, I popped into an opportunity shop where I came found a work shirt in my size. Note that Samantha used a man’s business shirt to create her collar but I was only able to find a shirt in my size which ended up working out quite well, I think!

I picked up this shirt from my local Salvos op shop. When paying at the counter, I found out that it was half price all orange tag items so I paid $2.99 for this easy lunchtime DIY job!

Back in the office, I had time to lay the shirt flat and make a snip at the bottom, on either side of the buttoned-up shirt; then I tore things up! Being a cotton shirt, I was able to tear up the shirt, then make a little snip to help guide the tear around the back of the collar. As a result I had two pieces: the collar and attached buttoned-up strip which I believe is referred to as the “placket” and the rest of the shirt. This means that I had a highly therapeutic lunchtime and that I am now able to wear the one shirt with my work dress to create at least three different styles, as follows:

Week 34 Look 1:  Tear up a work shirt to separate the collar and placket from the rest of the shirt to create this edgy styling of a little black dress for work.

Week 34 Look 2: Don’t like shirts because of the collar? This DIY creates a collarless option which I’ve chosen to belt up using a belt I stole from Mum’s wardrobe, years ago. Thanks Mum! After thought: I wonder what this would look like if I’d worn the shirt UNDER the dress. Another look I’ll have to try!

Week 34 Look 3: Heating up? Loose the shirt and simply wear the detached collar and placket. That said, I could have sought to recreate Samantha Hardman’s style by adding a long-sleeve merino wool top!

In addition to my Bento LBD and customised shirt from the Salvation Army (“Salvos”), I’m wearing black pearl studs I bought in Shanghai (part of a set, necklace featured in Week 21), a nameplate necklace that I bought from diament designs on etsy, opaque stockings from either CLiO or Target and brogue ankle boots that fit my orthotics (but truth be told, which I still think are a little too high and narrow to be good for my feet!) from ziera.

To wear torn or to make neat? I simply tucked in these loose ends, however when I’ve time in future, I’ll be neatening the look and sewing to hide all tears.

What do you think of my DIY effort? I did it pretty quickly and have already thought of ways that I could improve it; especially if I find a peter-pan-collar shirt that I’d like to try this with. Essentially all BusiChics know that it’s a real no-no to wear torn clothes at work; it’s not a professional look. While I had fun tearing the shirt and thought that Vivienne Westwood (doyenne of punk-inspired clothing) would appreciate my  purposely rebellious tearing up of a classic item; my boss thought the tear in my shirt placket was hilarious. Not ideal. As such, next time I’ll make time to tear more carefully then handstitch (or at least safety pin!) to hide all rough edges!

A shortcoming of the way I tore the collar: a gape. I’ll need to sew on some fabric so that I can wear my hair up when wearing the collar.

The second thing that I’ll need to improve is the gape that’s created when I wear the collar. If I wear my hair down, we don’t see the gap and Look 2 works because the shirt is largely intact. However I think the overall look is improved when I have my hair up, so I’ll need to do a bit more Frankenstein-ing to get the balance of edgy and work-appropriate right in this DIY effort!
I’d love to hear your thoughts on today’s post. I’ve found that in doing this challenge of styling a Little Black Dress in 52 different ways for work, I’ve increasingly felt that I’d like to make and customise my own tweaks. So far I knitted a scarf with Popcraft in Week 19 and now, torn up a shirt! What do you think of the styles I’ve shared and do you have any more thoughts on other things that I could make or customise to accessorise my LBD for the office? Like this post or please talk to me via the comments below!

Looking for other ways to style a Little Black Dress for work? < Click that way!


  1. What a fun DIY! I like that you can use the entire shirt as well as the collar to create different looks 🙂


  2. I think I’m going to have to hunt down hubby’s old shirts and take the collars off for this one. The shirt bit…you can add a trim to hide the jagged edges for a slightly more polished/cleaner look for work if you like. 😉

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