THERE’S something so effortlessly stylish about a white shirt.
Buttoned-up but alluring, easy but smart, timeless but modern at the same time, it’s a staple that every woman should have in her wardrobe.
It’s the sheer simplicity of a white shirt that makes it so striking…and sexy, depending on what you style it with.
Holly Willoughby shows us that demure can be daring when you amp up the attitude – try spicing up your work wardrobe by swapping a classic pencil skirt for a vinyl version.
Kourtney Kardashian recently rocked a cropped version by Off-White with a pair of tailored trousers on a night out in LA; the look was low-key and almost ladylike, but the sliver of midriff added just the right amount of sex appeal.
Last year at the CFDA Vogue Fashion fund event, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley championed new brand on the block Monse and showed us that a white shirt looks sassier when slipped off of one shoulder.
Audrey Hepburn’s character Holly Golightly wears a white shirt to bed in Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961)[/caption]
It’s that sense of subversion that makes the white shirt so alluring – its borrowed-from-the-boys feel always seemed sexier than clingy dresses and the shaking up of a traditional workwear staple feels rebellious somehow.
Sarah Jessica Parker’s character Carrie Bradshaw did the walk of shame in one – admittedly, with an Hermes belt around her waist – in the Season 3 finale of Sex and the City.
And even earlier in the 1961 film Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Audrey Hepburn’s Holly Golightly famously wore a white tuxedo shirt to bed with a silk eye mask.
Whether you’re shopping for a special date, keeping it classic at the office or need something smart post-pregnancy, look no further than the white shirt.
With its cropped hem and wide cuffs, Monki’s shirt strikes the perfect balance between modern and classic.
The hem hits just above the hip, so you can still tuck it in to high-waisted work trousers and skirt.
What makes this shirt so versatile though, is the subtle zip at the back – so you can streamline the waist and create a crop top.
- Zipped shirt, £55 from Monki at ASOS – buy here
Best longline shirt
Sometimes a cropped shirt just doesn’t cut it and you need a longline style that’s easier to tuck into trousers and skirts.
Marks & Spencer’s has all those menswear vibes that make a good quality shirt – longer cuffs, curved hems, crisp cotton-poplin.
Wear it to work or on the weekend, slightly unbuttoned with statement earrings.
- Cotton-poplin shirt, £39.50 from Marks & Spencer – buy here
You can always rely on H&M for good value for money basics.
This button-through shirt is un-tailored (if you’ve got a bigger bust, size up) and a neat collar.
It’s cut from a very lightweight cotton that is great for trans-seasonal styling, but you may want to underpin it with a tank top at work.
- Cotton shirt, £8.99 from H&M – buy here
Best for breasteeding
Ok so it’s not exactly a shirt, but who wants to be buttoned up when their breasteeding anyway?
With its wide sleeves and knotted front, Topshop’s blouse has on-trend kimono vibes and is smart enough to wear to the office or formal events.
The cotton-jersey feels super comfortable and roomy to wear (perfect for accommodating a shrinking bump) and simply un-ties at the front for easy access during feeds.
- Nursing blouse, £32 from Topshop – buy here
Best for fuller bust
The daily struggles of a gaping button holes is all too familiar for most women.
Tailored shirts tend to be better the more expensive they get but for cheaper options, bookmark ASOS and Marks & Spencer.
This version is woven with a hint of stretch and deftly darted to accommodate a bigger bust.
- Stretch-cotton shirt, £18 from ASOS – buy here
Best cropped shirt
Channel your best Kourtney Kardashian in a cropped white shirt when you’re next out – it exudes nonchalance like no party dress can.
This ASOS version is pleated to create pretty peplum cuffs and a streamlined waist that doesn’t ride up.
Wear it with everything from this season’s pleated midi to a pair of paper-bag waist trousers.
- Cropped shirt, £45 from ASOS – buy here
Best shirt dress
As Carrie Bradshaw taught us, every woman needs a white shirt dress in her wardrobe.
With its classic collar and cuffs, this ASOS version has all the right borrowed-from-the-boys vibes.
Wear it on a night out with a waist belt, as a coverup on the beach or to sleep in à la Holly Golightly in Breakfast at Tiffany’s.
- Shirt dress, £20 from ASOS – buy here
Best satin shirt
When made up in lustrous satin, the white shirt goes from boardroom to boudoir in a split second.
Mango’s blouse is cut in an oversized shape and has pretty bow fastenings at the cuff.
The most modern way to wear it? With tailored trousers and flats.
- Satin shirt, £29.99 from Mango – buy here
Best short sleeve shirt
The short sleeve shirt can be a more relaxed alternative for the office.
Made from a lightweight crepe, this ASOS version has a neat collar, boxy silhouette and concealed button plaquet.
Wear yours with oversized earrings and red lippy to shake off any schoolboy vibes.
- Short sleeve shirt, £25 from ASOS – buy here
Best wrap shirt
There’s nothing high fashion loves more than a subverted white shirt.
Luckily, you don’t have to pay luxury prices to achieve the look.
Boohoo’s version puts a feminine spin on the traditional piece with an open collar, wrap front and tie waist.
- Wrap shirt, £16 from Boohoo – buy here
best weekend shirt
Sometimes the simplicity of a white shirt is all you need on casual weekends.
This Uniqlo version is made from ultra soft and comfortable cotton-flannel and has pleats at the back to create a relaxed silhouette.
The rounded hem makes it easier to tuck into skirts, but we like it best worn open over a T-shirt or Breton top.
- Flannel shirt, £24.90 from Uniqlo – buy her
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Make sure to underpin your white shirt with a well-fitting nude bra – here’s how to find the perfect fit.
Looking for a T-shirt instead? These are the best styles that suit every shape and size.
The rench coat is another staple every woman should have in her wardrobe – see how to style it here.