Jazzing Up The Classic White Shirt
The virtues of the classic white shirt cannot be extolled enough. Its simplicity means quick mixing and matching, its pristineness makes it a snap to dress up and its versatility allows for it to be worn as a base or top layer. Small wonder then that it is tirelessly recommended as a staple in every wardrobe.
In fact, Jennie Geisker of The Shirt Muse says that white is the only colour she stocks all year around because it sells five times more than shirts of any other colour option. And she, like most other white shirt fans, attributes is popularity to its longevity.
“You can buy a white shirt today and it will still be as relevant and stylish in five years. And the style possibilities are endless. Every woman should own at least one. You can never have too many!”
However the devotion to the white shirt is not unanimous. Some women fear white would make them look washed out while others deem it a boring basic. But like everything else, there are ways around these grouses.
While it is true that bright white does not flatter every skin tone, there are many other shades of white that will make you look radiant. So your version of the classic white shirt might be in a shade of soft white, ivory, bone, vanilla or cream. And if a classic white shirt feels a little too masculine for your taste, then choose a style based on your personality.
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A shirt with ruffles and lace will make you fall in love. Jil Sander’s (left) sleeveless ruffled cotton-poplin shirt features a cascade of ruffles down its front while still retaining the classic collar. Or flaunt your femininity in Anne Fontaine’s (right) delicate Parisian shirt with its intricate detail and cuff sleeves.
A soft, flowy fabric like silk is perfect for hitting that balance between laidback and chic. Roberto Cavalli’s (left) silk-satin shirt has a slightly loose but flattering fit, and bell sleeves that complete the look. Or try Boutique Moschino’s (right) silk crepe de chine shirt with black piping for an edgy yet polished vibe.
Hunt down a shirt with a bold, standout element. The Shirt Muse’s (left) Ice-Cream shirt has leopard print buttons and a long point collar for understated elegance. Monse’s (middle) asymmetric stretch-cotton twill shirt, meanwhile, wraps your body in rows of buttons and pleats. And Donna Karan New York’s (right) contemporary wrap shirt draws the eye to the smallest part of your frame.
How To Pick Your Perfect White Shirt
A collared white shirt works best in poplin or twill. Both fabrics will give it structure and are not too sheer. Otherwise, stretch cotton is a great alternative. Aside from adding that little stretch, it will not wrinkle and is extremely comfortable for all-day wear.
Seams & Darts
A tailored shirt is always more flattering than a boxy or billowy one. For starters, make sure the shoulder seams end at the edge of your shoulder bone so that the rest of the shirt hangs beautifully on your body.
Darting ensures smooth, long lines that allow the shirt to skim the body in all the right places regardless of body shape. Choose shirts with vertical darts below the bust for a polished look and shirts with horizontal darts to the side of the bust to accentuate curves.
A shirt collar brightens the face and adds a refined finish. Choose shirts with sturdy collars that will not flop but beware collars that are too tall or too stiff. Not only will they look awkward but they will also chaff against your neck.
French cuffs add flair but make sure they do not fall past your wrist bone.
A hem that stops an inch below the waistline looks best. A rounded shirttail hem reduces bulk when tucking in and draws attention to your center instead of your hips when worn out.
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