Different By Design

Why You Need a White Shirt 

by Lani Kim


By Kim Izzo

Now that we are slowly emerging from the pandemic woes, many of us are returning to the office, or if not, we’re going out to socialize once again. There is one feminine wardrobe staple that if you don’t already own, you should: the white shirt.  

“For me, a white shirt is a must-have in every wardrobe because of its versatility. It suits everyone and comes in so many varieties. Stiff cottons, linens, silks, puff sleeves, exaggerated collars; you can wear them in an abundance of ways. Dress up, dress down, with high-waisted trousers or skirts, a French tuck into casual jeans or even layered under a dress,” says Harper’s Bazaar fashion editor, Tilly Wheating.  

This timeless classic has stood the test of time, according to Vogue UK, “Marie Antoinette caused a scandal all the way back in the 18th century when she wore a white blouse in a portrait painted by her favored artist, Élisabeth Vigée Le Brun. By the 1920s, Coco Chanel revolutionized women’s wardrobes by incorporating tailoring and menswear-inspired shirting into her collections.”  

Such style setters who embraced the white shirt also include old Hollywood stars like Katharine Hepburn, Marlene Dietrich, and Audrey Hepburn. Movies in the 1990s also showcased female characters wearing the look, Uma Thurman in Pulp Fiction, Diane Keaton in Annie Hall, and Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman. Not to be outdone, new Hollywood has also coopted the trend for themselves, with many female celebs making headlines during the 2022 Oscars by donning a white shirt on the red carpet. Look no further than Zendaya, Kirsten Stewart, Uma Thurman, and Wanda Sykes, who all rocked various versions of white shirts. Need we say more? 

We can! There is a white shirt for every taste, body type, and budget. In fact, the white shirt is so versatile you can find it in practically every silhouette and fabrication. Here are three of our faves for 2022. 

The White Blouse 

The tried-and-true uniform for the working woman is the classic white blouse. Indeed, the bouse was originally a garment worn by the working class, peasants, and artists, due to its loose, relaxed fit. But as the world entered the 20th Century, it became a favorite for urban secretaries and wives to add elegance to their daily wardrobes.

Now, blouses are a softer, and more feminine way to dress for formal, or business occasions. Design details like, dramatic sleeves, sheer or lace sleeves and overlays, smocking to create a figure-flattering look, or a drawstring neckline, all create visual interest.  Of course, the simple lines of a relaxed fit white shirt never goes out of style either, letting you make the statement. 

The White Poplin Shirt 

Crisp, cool, cotton poplin has been a beloved textile for centuries. Created in 15th Century France, the word “poplin” comes from the word “papelaine” which was came from the French town of Avignon. Originally, poplin was made from silk and wool and was a standard fabric for winter wear. Fast-forward and now poplin, especially cotton poplin, is used for clothing for all seasons. 

The fabric is treasured for both its durability and its subtle luster. In fact, poplin is a simple way to add luxury to your wardrobe because of its texture and sheen. Especially when you can find a selection of poplin shirts with such attention to style details as tie-waists that create instant glamour. Other designs like statement sleeves ramp up the red carpet look, or wear with denim for a dramatic mix.   

The White Tee 

When we think of white t-shirts, often the first image that I think of is Marlon Brando playing Stanley Kowalksi in Tennessee Williams’s A Streetcar Named Desire (1951). That uber masculine take on the white tee has been usurped by the decades of women who came later and took the classic look and made it their own.

In 2022, spring and summer wouldn’t be complete without pulling on the iconic white tee. Fitted, relaxed, or dolman sleeved, the white tee never, ever, goes wrong. Wear it under a blazer, with jeans, for an edgy “but I mean business” vibe. Or go weekend warrior and pair it with shorts and denim.

For the ultimate summer look, go bold and wear head to toe white: coated denim moto, jeans, and shirt, and see heads turn. 

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