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Classic White Shirt
Fashion

The Power of the Classic White Shirt

In a closet full of season-specific trends, the classic white dress shirt is the great equalizer, the bottom line, the very definition of a wardrobe staple. At times the personality of a white shirt seems virtually infinite. Paired easily with anything from boyfriend jeans to printed trousers or a ball skirt, it instantly adds a touch of cool masculinity. A classic cotton shirt can look crisp and tailored. Change the fabric to silk or sheer organza and the look is instantly dressier, sexier – a menswear inspired fashion at its most feminine.

It is a timeless, ageless piece that gives a woman that chic masculine/feminine vibe that has proven to be irresistible. The classic white shirt became a trend in the Forties thanks to the stars of Hollywood: in 1938 Kathryn Hepburn wore it in Holiday; Ava Gardner wore a short-sleeved model with wide shorts and lipstick followed by Lauren Bacall in Key Largo in 1948. In the Fifties, it took Audrey Hepburn to make the shirt with rolled sleeves and lifted collar iconic: she was a princess hanging around with Gregory Peck, those were her Roman Holidays.

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Styling your white shirt is easy – loose shirts can be worn over an undershirt or a camisole, in lieu of a jacket. Untucked, they can hide a bulky waistline, or give modesty and shelter from the sun to a skimpy bathing suit. Tucked in or worn under a jacket, they take a back seat to the perfect suit.

When is a shirt not a shirt? When it’s too pretty or feminine to betray much of its historical roots as men’s clothing – in other words, when it’s a blouse.

 

Shop the Look

    A longer, belted version of the Classic White Shirt

Beatrice B High-Low Poplin Blouse, $255

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Finley, Kaylynn Tunic, $165

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What Ann Taylor calls the Perfect classic white Shirt

Ann Taylor Perfect Shirt, $70

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Eileen Fisher's Classic White Shirt

Eileen Fisher Long Boxy Stretch Organic Cotton Shirt, $218 

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A classic white shirt by Karl Lagerfield

Karl Lagerfeld Paris Oversize Cotton Tunic, $80

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The White shirt gets a twist with front pleats

Anthropologie Isabel Woven Tunic, $78

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>READ: FASHION FAVORITES: TOP 5 WHITE BLOUSES

>READ: THE BEST WHITE JEANS FOR WOMEN

>READ: WEARING WHITE AFTER LABOR DAY AND OTHER FASHION RULES TO BREAK

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