The 5 C's of The Classic White Shirt
A classic white, collared shirt is a must have in any woman’s wardrobe, in my humble opinion, however there are white shirts and there are WHITE SHIRTS *the sun’s rays gleam down and the choir sings*!
Here are five characteristics to look for when searching for the perfect white shirt:
The fabric is important. Look for a cotton, poly-cotton or cotton/elastane blend. You want the garment to hold form yet drape nicely over your curves, so the weight of the fabric is important too. Anything too thin and light (such as a super fine linen) will be limp, hang from your shoulders and be less likely to look structured and groomed. A fabric that is too heavy (think heavy linens) will appear boxy, stiff and uncomfortable. In our climate it will also likely be too warm for summer wearing. It will look and feel hot.
You only have to walk into a paint store to see the spectrum of shades of white that exist. Fifty shades of white and then some…it’s mind-blowing. Only the crispest of whites will do when it comes to a white shirt earning its place in my wardrobe, though, it’s often hard to find! There are plenty of whites that throw yellowish or grey tones and before you’ve even cut the price tag off, it looks tired and pre-loved.
Cut is important and can be a personal thing. Ideally, it needs to fit across the shoulders nicely i.e. the shoulder seam on the very edge of your shoulders and not be too taught across the bust or back. A tapering in at the side seams, to the natural waist, will do the right thing to create a desirable shape. The length will be an important consideration especially if you wish to tuck (I do love a tucked white shirt with a mid to high-waisted pant!). If you plan to wear it out or untucked, opt for a shaped hemline rather than straight hem that will form an unflattering horizontal line across the hip area, especially if it’s an area you don’t wish to draw attention to or accentuate broadness.
Opting for a full sleeve instead of ¾ sleeve will give you flexibility to wear full length or roll up to ¾ or elbow. Personally, I love a sleeve rolled to the elbow, with a nice statement cuff showing - a la Meghan Markle’s character, Rachel, in Suits. A French cuff is as elegant as it gets and allows you to have some fun with cuff links. I’m sorry, but who says they’re just for men?
For the sheer luxury of it, I love a good starchy, stiff collar with decent depth when folded down. It needs to be able to hold its form when popped (with the back of the collar partially or fully extended up towards the hairline), rather than turned down. Popping the collar nicely elongates the neckline and is fabulously stylish too. Well-defined points on the collar add polish and drama. Consider whether you would also like the ability to wear your shirt buttoned to the collar for a sophisticated look. Add a short statement necklace, scarf tied into a bow or even a men’s tie if you’re brave enough to rock one under the collar the to express your sensational fashion flair.
So where do you find such a big ask of a shirt? Trust me, I’ve been on the hunt for the perfect white shirt to cycle out my old one for a while now and I’m loving the options and detail I’m finding online at Hawes & Curtis.
When you find and fall in love with the shirt for you, my advice? Buy two! They never go out of fashion and if you care for them as per the care instruction label, they will love you back for seasons to come.
Louise has worked in the business of styling and fashion for over 10 years, styling individual clients, media personalities, fashion events and photographic shoots as well as presenting workshops in the corporate and retail sectors. Her approach is to firstly educate women on dressing for their body shape, to empower them to feel confident when shopping for clothes and navigating new season trends. Louise works to find her clients’ personal style while considering their lifestyle, budget and existing wardrobe. Among her talents is the art of creating unique style and outfit combinations and inspiring clients to think outside the box when it comes to creating their look