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All hail the classic white shirt

All hail the classic white shirt

The Summary

The white shirt is often heralded as the ultimate staple of your wardrobe. It’s for good reason. It really is one of the most versatile pieces: it dresses up, dresses down, and is the - literal - blank canvas around which you can build any outfit.

The Sustainability

There are some things to consider from an environmental impact standpoint when buying your white shirt. Look out for and try to steer away from synthetic fibres. Slowly infiltrating the clothing industry for the last 60 years, they bring more chemicals, cheaper items, and faster fashion. Don’t fancy wearing clothing made from petroleum? Me neither. So let’s take a look at some of the stylish options made from natural fibre alternatives: think silk, linen, and 100% cotton.

The Styling

1. The Classic Button Up

Personally, I love this style, as pictured below on Em. A timeless essential, it can be worn with every bottom in your wardrobe from denim right through to tailoring.

Em’s wearing: Bassike 100% linen shirt, Nagnata Rydell Runner Short.

My pick is the Maggie Marilyn 01 Shirt from the Somewhere Collection. This collection has been consciously designed with the ability to be recycled, allowing materials to be kept within a closed-loop system to be used again and again. Put simply, if your love for the shirt ends, Maggie Marilyn will take it back and give it new life. Incredible!

2. The Silk Blouse

Silk is a beautiful, refined, and delicate fabric, making it the perfect option for elevating your look with a premium feel. Invest in a high-quality basic shirt with clean lines for a piece you can wear for years to come. You can dress it down or wear buttoned up and tucked into a trouser as a go-to for meetings - virtual or otherwise! The made-to-order blouse from Natalija, seen below, is my pick for a modern take on a classic. This exact version is no longer available but the brand has just released a cotton and silk blend in the same cut and we are huge fans.

Hannah wears: Natalija 100% silk shirt, Nagnata Avika Rib Tank, J-Brand 1212 Runway High Rise slim straight leg jean.

How to find the right white shirt style for you.

I like to think of a white shirt in the same way as a pair of jeans: you need to sort through the noise and try on different styles until you find the one that works for you. I highly recommend trying at least three styles and/or different fabrications. If you don’t like a collar or button up, go for a blouse style, such as the Bassike cotton balloon sleeve, Wynn Hamlyn’s Moon Blouse , or the Frame silk Billow Sleeve. Tip: When buying your white shirt, take note of where the seam on the shoulder is located. A drop shoulder can look gorgeous particularly when oversized but can also make you look bigger especially if you have broad shoulders. The same goes for jumpers and jackets. I love a fresh and bright white shirt. Proving just how versatile it can be, Em wears the Lillian Khallouf Huda Blouse below in three different ways.

Em wears: Lillian Khallouf Huda Blouse and JBrand 1212 Runway Slim Straight Leg Jean.

However, I will say that the bright white colour can wash you out if you have a fair complexion. You can either go for a bit of fake tan as Em has or opt for a more antique white or cream coloured shirt.

Styling your white shirt in seconds.

If you find yourself in a rush before work or to a meeting and you don’t know what to wear, here’s our foolproof go-to: a black trouser or your fave jeans, your white shirt, and your favourite heels. It’s a failsafe combination that will always have you looking chic. The white shirt is also a great layering piece. Pop a knit, denim jacket, trench coat, or leather jacket over the top and you’re ready to go in the cooler months. Want to add some instant fun to your outfit? Try a statement earring or gold necklace. It’s not always necessary, but always an option to brighten your ensemble. Oh! And it’s more than okay to have more than one white shirt in your wardrobe…just ask Em! She may or may not reveal how many she owns...

How to wear your white shirt confidently

A question as old as time - what should I wear under my white shirt? The key to feeling comfortable in your favourite white shirt is finding the right undergarment, whether it’s a nude bra, camisole or playful bralette. I tend to wear a seamless nude or white bra, depending on the type of fabrication and whether it’s sheer or of a thicker quality. While a nude bra is an obvious choice to wear under your white shirt, it’s important to find one that matches your skin tone. If you’re wearing a paler nude and have a darker complexion, or visa versa, your bra will not be transparent. The one undergarment you can find trailblazing that trend time and time again - bralettes. Choose either a black or subtler colours one and let it peek through by unbuttoning the top buttons of your white shirt.

Styling your white shirt from day to night.

Think of your white shirt as a building block. The beauty of this versatile piece is that you can take it from day to night by simply switching up the bottom half of your outfit. One of my favourite ways to style a white shirt for a fool-proof daytime look is with a high-waisted, rigid denim, mid-blue jean - tucking the shirt loosely at the front and letting the rest of the shirt hang, or layer it over your favourite slip dress for any day-time occasion. Take note, both these looks can be worn with a white sneaker or barely-there sandal. For night, I switch out my jeans for either a high-waist, wide-leg trouser or a printed or plain midi skirt and tuck the shirt in to win all the style points.

Pairing your white shirt with a pop of colour.

If you've ever wondered how to pair your white shirt with a complementary colour, your safest bet is block colours. For a more adventurous look, I am loving citrus colours for this coming summer - think lemon, peach and apricot. However, it's important to be mindful to always balance out your outfit when you're working with block colours. For example, while you can certainly pair your white shirt with a black jean and white shoe, I generally recommend going for a strappy white sandal with some detailing like The Row's barely-there sandal. Aversatile item that will ensure you're never left wondering what to wear again, the white is a must-have item in every woman's wardrobe.


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