In the world of timeless fashion, the little black dress gets all the hype. Turn on any style show, open any magazine, and you'll hear a million fashion editors singing its praises. It's a shame that the classic white shirt plays second fiddle to the LBD these days. Chances are, unless you go out on the town 5 nights a week, you'll have many more opportunities to wear a crisp white shirt than an LBD! The perfect white shirt can take you from an important work meeting on Monday to a swank dinner on Tuesday, not to mention a lazy day of shopping on Saturday then curling up with the paper on Sunday. It's feminine, yet authoritative, polished, yet sexy. You can go oversized or tailored, tucked or untucked, depending on the occasion. But don't just take our word for it! The pictures don't lie...
Everything's just right about this picture, starting with Audrey herself, of course. But the striped daybed, stack of bangles, relaxed pose, and of course, the white shirt, make this picture positively timeless and relaxed.
Katherine Hepburn always managed to turn her white shirt into a bit more powerful statement. Maybe it's the pocket and the trousers? In any case, we love it!
How positively feminine and exhuberant is this white shirt in Roman Holiday? Admittedly, the little knotted scarf would look a bit dated today- we'd go for an oversized one! But we'll definitely take the Vespa!
We love Gwynnie's wardrobe in The Talented Mr. Ripley. A white shirt cinched at the waist with a fuller skirt has its origins in the 50's, but still works today.
And of course, how can we extol the virtues of the white shirt without mentioning Sharon Stone's head turning outfit at the Oscars all those years ago? Her husband's white shirt with a feminine lilac ball skirt is just as memorable as her Gap turtleneck! Is that shirt even buttoned at all??? Like the icons of the 50's and 60's, Carolina Herrera shows us all how it's really done in her white shirt. We love the purple scarf and leopard belt. On paper this combination sounds a little questionable, but done Herrera-style, it's the epitome of stylish, elegant dressing. The proof is in the pictures!
Even the oft-ragamuffin-looking Ashley (or is that Mary Kate?) Olsen is the picture of casual elegance in her oversized white shirt. We love how the shield glasses make the look modern and youthful.
We looooove a crisp white shirt with jeans. We'd trade Emmanuelle Chiquri's twee-looking clutch purse for a bold, colorful crocodile clutch (something by Nancy Gonzalez would be perfect here), but we do give her points for the popped collar!
If you're looking to add to your collection of white shirts, we have a few favorites to recommend:
For a bargain, check out this three-quarter sleeve stretch shirt from JCrew. $40. This looks just as great with cotton shorts as it would with a suit. And a white shirt is like a blank canvas for your oversized statement necklaces!
For a fun twist on the classic white blouse, we love this silk garland top from JCrew. $60
Every woman should have at least one Brooks Brothers non-iron white shirt ($89.50) in her wardrobe. We definitely recommend the slim fit version. They're perfect for work- no more hurried ironing sessions in the morning when you're trying to get out the door!
And of course, you can never go wrong with Theory's white shirts. They always fit just perfectly! This short-sleeved version is perfect for summer, don't you think? Theory tops are a little on the pricey side from Neiman Marcus ($190), but here's a little secret: we see them all the time at Filene's Basement and even TJ Maxx for less than 1/2 the price!
The only downside to the white shirt? It's tricky to keep them looking like new. They need a lot of love and attention! Extend the lifespan of your favorite white shirt with a little TLC as follows:
Undo the buttons before washing to minimize strain on the stitches holding the button on.
Only wash whites with whites! Adding any other colors will make your shirt look dingy.
Cold or warm machine wash. I like to do the gentle cycle just to be safe.
For ultimate crispness, iron while the shirt is still damp on a medium to hot setting.
After ironing, place the shirt on a hanger to air, with the top button fastened.