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8 Australian creatives show us how they style a skivvy

WORDS BY CAIT EMMA BURKE

The long-sleeved top that keeps on giving.

As someone famous and important has probably said before, one should never underestimate the power of a skivvy. Marlon Brando knew it, as did Andy Warhol, David Bowie, Mick Jagger and a bevy of other interesting and often incredibly hot men (as Esquire’s men wearing skivvies roundup can attest to).

What that roundup won’t show you is the array of women who have worn a skivvy like it’s their job to do so. This very important list here brings our attention to these women: Audrey Hepburn, Marilyn Monroe, Miranda Hobbes, Diane Keaton (particularly in Something’s Gotta Give), Kate Moss, Francoise Hardy, Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy, Linda Evangelista, Princess Diana – you get the picture.


For more fashion news, shoots, articles and features, head to our Fashion section.


And even though the fashion industry has applied some of my least favourite clothing descriptors to this item over the years – ‘chic’ and ‘must-have’ come to mind – hiding behind the simplicity of this garment is a somewhat radical history.

It was the uniform of the working-class man for many decades (fishermen and labourers often wore the garment due to its warmth and practicality) before it was adopted by the beatniks in the late ’50s with the release of Audrey Hepburn’s iconic film Funny Face.

In the ’70s it became a counter-cultural icon, worn by the feminist activist Gloria Steinem and political groups like the Black Panthers. Of course, Apple founder Steve Jobs infamously loved a skivvy too, which solidified its anti-establishment, maverick-like qualities for a new generation. After lingering around in the ’80s and ’90s (a good basic never truly dies) the skivvy made a fully-fledged return to popularity in the 2000s with the advent of normcore.

Impressive history aside, a skivvy is what I reach for whenever I’m faced with a wardrobe-related meltdown. It works on so many levels, especially for someone like me who has a penchant for layering things like boob tubes and T-shirts over top. Eager to see who else places the skivvy in such high esteem, I reached out to eight Australian creatives to see how they wear this wardrobe staple.

Allie King, content creator

I adore a good skivvy moment (I kinda suspect this may be a nostalgic thing – who else wore them under their school tunics on cold days?) I found this baby blue skivvy at an op shop four years ago and it’s the perfect versatile addition to my winter wardrobe.

Here I’ve styled it with the Ta Ta Bodice in Bad Baby Blue from Dyspnea, in the hopes of living out my regency core dreams. I completed my look with some strong monochromatic animal print vibes – dalmatian print pants from House of Sunny, cow print sunglasses and a zebra print bag, both by Poppy Lissiman. I think adding a corset to your skivvy takes it to the next level (and serves some Daphne Bridgerton realness).

@alliedaisyking

Annie Carroll, publicist and writer

There’s something about wearing a skivvy that reminds me of school: worn under a heavy wool tunic with a pocket full of tuckshop change and a backpack full of textbooks. I kind of love that scholastic vibe, only now I can trade in my itchy, school-sanctioned wool skivvy for this feather-soft American Vintage cotton knit.

I love how soft this skivvy is – there’s no time for uncomfortable fabrics in 2021 – stick with natural fibres where you can for both warmth and feel. This skivvy is a little bit sheer, which can be fun for nighttime, but today I have a few client meetings, so I layered it under this Christopher Kane tee and tucked both into this Sir skirt.

@anniecarrolll

Wintana Kidane, curator and podcaster

My black turtleneck is from Uniqlo. I like to stay cosy with my style and for me, nothing exudes cosy like a turtleneck. You can literally rock turtlenecks with anything and they’ll never go out of style. I like to pair my turtleneck with high waisted pants/jeans, sneakers and some cute gold accessories. If it’s cold I’ll chuck on a leather jacket or a trench coat. Definitely a necessity!

@win.tanaa

Prue Raisbeck, content creator


I’ve been wearing skivvies for as long as I can remember. They’re a staple in my mum’s cupboard, which ultimately means they are in mine as well. I love them because they’re so versatile and great for layering in the autumn and winter months – they just make every outfit look so chic.

I specifically love this skivvy from Nasty Gal because it’s a quality, thick fabric and has the cheeky twist of an open back! In this photo, I styled my skivvy with a Tigermist skort, a Commonry trench coat and some knee-high boots for the ultimate winter look.

@yourspruely

Mukisa Mbunsu, model

Turtlenecks, from being worn famously by Audrey Hepburn in the ’60s all the way to being worn by Quavo and Offset at award shows in the late 2010s, are a fashion staple that has managed to transcend decades. For me, the turtlenecks that stuck out were the ones worn by Black women in ’90s TV shows and films. In particular, I remember seeing Nia Long wearing turtlenecks as she played Lisa Wilkes in The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. They were always perfectly cropped and paired with baggy jeans.

This black turtleneck (which is actually a dress) I found thrift shopping back in Perth. I’ve tucked it into these ’90s-cut beige denim pants from ASOS – I aimed to recreate the iconic Nia Long look I was influenced by. Shows like The Fresh Prince and movies like Poetic Justice showed me how cool the turtleneck could be.

@kxsaa

Arielle Richards, journalist and content creator

A simple black turtleneck has always been a key staple in my winter wardrobe. Right now I’m really interested in the loose strings/exposed seams micro trend, so I made myself a couple of basic black turtlenecks with exposed brown overlocking to wear during winter! I made the sleeves and neck XXL for extra warmth (I’m very into the long sleeves microtrend too) and love how it turned out.

I’ve styled mine for a ‘going out look’ so it’s extra all the way, paired with a forthcoming Sexiaz Lingerie skirt, tights, platform loafers, my housemate’s mum’s Fendi and my omnipresent earmuffs. I wouldn’t usually wear a tight top with a tight skirt but the conservative coverage of the turtleneck inspired me to go all out. If this was a daytime outfit I’d probably just throw a sweater vest over and call it a look.

@rari.ferrarri

Carmen Azzopardi, content creator

When it comes to dressing during winter, I’m a total creature of comfort which means if I’m trying to look ‘cute’, layers are my best friend. My most favourite sweaters and skivvies have been fished out of vintage and thrift stores alike and this cobalt blue bad boy is no different.

Skivvies and layering go hand-in-hand and I like to mix my skivvies on top of button-ups, underneath oversized tees and sandwiched between thrifted sweaters and coats – the combos are truly limitless. Wearing bright colours makes me feel invincible so I can’t go past a tonal blue moment. I’ve paired my skivvy with a pair of vintage Escada jeans, thrifted sneakers and my absolute favourite bag to ever exist (from Staud).

@zigs_mom

Ruby Staley, journalist 

A good black skivvy is an absolute staple in my daily uniform and you’ll find me wearing some sort of high necked item at least 50 per cent of the week.

With over 20 black turtle neck options at my disposal, I chose this simple Kookai basic skivvy that’s super comfy and goes with anything and paired it with this cutesy thrifted dress. I topped the look off with black tights, socks, loafers and a shoulder bag – I took this fun ’fit out for drinks with friends in the sun.

@rubystaley_

For more on the history of the humble skivvy, try this.

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