The Art of Wearing the White Shirt
Not only do I love a white shirt, but one could say I basically live in a white shirt. At least I live in a white shirt 4 out of 7 days a week. Not always the same shirt, of course, as I have more than I can count, but some are very similar…So, I was delighted to hear that the real Fashionista’s (not just me pretending) are indicating that this Spring, the White Shirt is all the rage! I am so ready for this spring trend!
This spring, the white shirt will be more than just a wardrobe staple. The white shirt. A total classic, whether you are dressing for a business occasion or for the weekend, everyone needs to have one (or many) in their closet. You can dress it up. Dress it down. Wear it for Business. Wear it for a casual date with friends and family. Wear it to an elegant affair. The white shirt is where it’s at!
This recent article by Christina Binkley in Wall Street Journal, indicates such…(Excerpts from the article shown below in italics. Full article is provided at link at end of blog):
Quite a few runway collections for spring included notable shirts with enough character to stand apart from the sea of white button-downs. Rather than playing a supporting role, these shirts stand as stars on their own.
Crisp and Cool | A slightly cropped length, smooth bib and long cuffs elevate Peter Som’s tuxedo shirt.
Simple and Sleeveless | At Hermès, a finely woven blouse is paired with a bright skirt for spring.
Evening Glamour | Carolina Herrera sent a sharply detailed white shirt down the runway with a floor-length skirt.
Clean-Cropped | Alexander Wang’s youthful take had voluminous sleeves and a cropped A-line shape.
White shirts have long been a wardrobe building block, ever since women first borrowed the look from the classic man’s shirt. But they often require dressing up with scarves, jackets, or jewelry. Many of the latest versions, by contrast, go well beyond their menswear origins and cross the tricky border from wardrobe essential into high fashion.
Shirts from the spring 2014 collections will begin showing up in stores in another month or so. On the runways last fall in New York and Europe, more than two dozen major collections included great, fashion-forward white shirts.
Many were inspired by menswear looks, but their designs took artful dodges this way and that. Bold enough to be the statement piece of an outfit, these shirts aren’t meant to disappear under a jacket. They should be worn untucked and easy, though of course nicely pressed.
Of course, you can’t have the magic of a white shirt without some extra care. Keeping a white shirt white is challenging. Most of these shirts require ironing (the crisp look is part of the appeal), and shirts that are washed and ironed at home are likely to have a longer life than those sent to a laundry or dry cleaner.
When caring for a good white blouse, less is more. Cotton should be laundered, not dry-cleaned, says Susan McManigal, owner of the century-old French Hand Laundry and Dry Cleaning in Pasadena, Calif. At home, use pure soap such as Ivory or Dreft, not detergents, which have harsh chemicals that can cause discoloration and damage fabrics. Ms. McManigal has her water softened and filtered with charcoal—at the laundry and at her home—to help the pure soaps work better.
The attraction of these is the gender-bending play between masculine and feminine. They are sexy clothes, but not overtly so, because they are loose, and cover up the skin.
“The crisp freshness of white cotton just adds a great note of modest formality,” says designer Rick Owens who brought his cool minimalism to tunics and dresses in the fabric. Mr. Owens wryly notes that a brilliant white shirt can make whites around it look dim. “You just have to be careful,” he says, that “you have beautifully colored teeth to wear it.”
Different Ways to Rock the White Shirt/Blouse
Work. Fitted, the look is crisp, clean, and tucked in. Can button a button down, all way to top.
Flirty. silk, looser, soft to touch. Pair with skirt.
Cool, Casual it’s the Weekend. Oversized, “half-tuck”, casual, cool and comfortable. Pair with a clean skinny jean or shorts or shorter skirt. Clearly my favorite look, as the plethora of pics will show.
Special Occasion. Tucked in neatly with elegant skirt. Or paired with sequins.
1. The biggest mistake women make with white is what they wear underneath it. When wearing white, it’s critical to wear lingerie that is as close as possible to the color of your skin. Don’t wear white undies because every line will show. Don’t wear colored undies unless you are trying to make a statement.
2. Does white work for you? It works for many women, but not everyone. If you have a great tan or naturally dark skin, it’s beautiful. Warm skin tones go well with white. If it washes you out, forget about it.
3. For the “Half Tuck” look, grab a few inches in front, tuck in, leave the rest loosely hanging out.
4. The hottest way to wear white this season is head-to-toe. It can be really flattering if the proportions and the fit are just right. White jeans and a v-neck T-shirt or crisp button-down tailored shirt are great looks. A crisp white pencil skirt with a classic white top can be fabulous. Be sure everything is slim but not tight. White can be unforgiving. As for jeans, make sure they are not cropped or they can make your legs look shorter.
5. When shopping for white clothes, opt for natural fibers, especially linen or cotton, which are beautiful in white. Avoid white satin or polyester. Ugh. They really look cheap.
6. Beware of cling when wearing white. White doesn’t take well to being too tight or showing bra or panty lines. Dresses that flow gently past the curves look best. Some flowing and billowing sundresses or flirty tops can be lovely in white as well, especially when paired with a narrow silhouette such as a skinny jean or leggings.
7. Avoid white for photos or TV. While it may look lovely in person, it can, sadly, add pounds when worn on TV or captured in photos.
8. When buying something white, especially a dress or pants, it’s important to make sure it’s opaque or solid and not too see-through. Try holding the dress up so the light shines through it. Put your hand behind or inside it. If you can see the form of your hand, you can be sure it will show everything. You will either need a full slip, pants liner or something layered under it to avoid a peep show.
9. White strappy sandals can be cute with a white outfit but never ever wear white pumps…any time, for any reason.
10. Metallic sandals and handbags look fabulous with white, as do brights such as coral or turquoise. A dark, heavy leather bag can bring down the look. A great look is a simple straw bag with a scarf tied around the handle. You can change the scarf to match your mood – and your outfit.
Here are just some of the advantages of a nice white blouse/shirt
It gives you a clean crisp look.
It combines with every other color you have.
It is a perfect background for your fabulous accessories like jewelry and scarves.
It is perfect to wear with all the printed trousers that are so fashionable now.
You can wear them in so many different ways.
- Tuck them in.
- Wear with a belt
- Semi tuck
- Wear them lose over a singlet
- Tie a knot in front
- Wear to the Oscars with a formal long skirt (remember Sharon Stone!)
There are a few drawbacks as well
It can make you look a bit washed out (adding accessories can help with this)
They get dirty really quickly
Can make teeth that aren’t “pearly white” look beige or yellow. :(
You need to properly know how to care for your shirt, to keep it looking crisp and white.
Tip 1. With white cotton shirts – NEVER dryclean. There is essentially a coating on white poplin that keeps the white white. Drycleaning chemicals essential strip this finish from the fabric revealing the griege fabric underneath (greige is a raw fabric, ready to be dyed or finished). This dulls the white and makes it look sad. Instead, we recommend professional wet-wash. All GOOD drycleaners offer a wetwashing service which is basically when you are too lazy to hand wash your clothes or press 30 degrees on the washing machine. They will wash and iron the shirts properly for you. It is definitely recommended to get someone else to iron your shirts for you, as this is a very tedious process.
Tip 2. If you do have the desire to iron your own shirts, to minimize the amount of effort required, when the shirt is wet from the wash, put it straight onto a hanger and tug out the creases/wrinkles as much as possible. Cotton has a memory and if you leave the shirts in a heap or over a clothes dryer, all of the creases that are in the shirt from washing will be a pain to get out.
Tip 3. Always press your shirt when damp. This will make it much easier and will give a crisp result. If its not straight from the wash then use a spray bottle and mist it with water to dampen it slightly, making it more moist where creases are worse. Start with the cuff and sleeves, then the back yoke. Next the collar, then the back of the shirt and finally the two fronts – ending on the right hand side ,so that the top button-stand is the last thing pressed. (This is how to achieve the best results). Use a little starch on the cuffs and collar
Tip 4. When pressing a collar always do so from the underside of the collar, press from the outside tips towards the center, this keeps your collar balanced, as over pressing in the wrong direction will warp the collar over time.
Tip 5. If you travel and need a cost effective wrinkle releaser – mix a tsp of fabric conditioner with a cup of water in a light spritzer. Hang the shirt on a hanger and spritz the wrinkles. Tug and smooth over with your hand to release the wrinkles. It’s also a good tip to keep this spritzer mix in your office drawer as it is a quick way to smooth out wrinkles in your outfit before meetings.
Tip 6. While heavy steaming a shirt may get the wrinkles out, more often than not, the steam tightens the seams and leaves a slight puckering effect – always press without steam where possible, if you need additional help use a spritz bottle to dampen the fabric.
Great White Shirt Looks
White Shirt Looks for Men
To further my point, that I basically don’t go anywhere, without a white shirt/blouse…Here is a sampling of what I wore the past year…and while these blouses may look the similar, I try to pair them with or under different pieces. Plus, when I find a white blouse that I absolutely love, I usually buy 2 of the same. Most of these photos have already been featured in previous blogs, just going to show you that there aren’t that many pics of me floating around…and I do NOT do selfies, either!
Back to reality after 6, was supposed to be 5, days out of town doing college visits (Patrick not I, but am thinking I may join him ;)) but due to bad weather in Chi-town, we got to spend another day in paradise…How luck were we? Incredibly so! And here, Paddy and I, are loving life in San Clemente (Thanks Jay for the great day) and I am wearing yet another White Blouse! Again, it all comes full circle. Rocking the best year ever in my favorite wardrobe staple…the white blouse!
Song of the Day: Bruce Hornsby, Valley Road…Heard this while lounging at the pool at the Beverly Hilton (honestly, not nearly as nice as one would think, and they don’t serve Stella…but had fabulous time anyway, and luckily Kevin and I were able to make due with a variety of other cocktails, pool-side) and could NOT get it out of my head. Hence, I immediately downloaded it onto my iPhone, and I’ve been listening to it, non-stop, ever since. Because that’s how I roll.
Best line of the Olympics. Matt Lauer to Bob Costas: ”Bob, you taking the red eye home”? Zing! LOL!!
White Shirts go from supporting player to star