Dress for Success: The White Shirt

When it comes to shopping I have certain weaknesses. My closet has more coats than winter has days and nothing interrupts my train of thought faster than the sight of a jewel toned hidden platform pump. While both of these items hold large places in my heart (and my closet) there is one item that trumps them both-the white shirt. Whether it’s the classic button up or a slub knit tee, nothing is more refreshing and versatile than a crisp white shirt. While the possibilities of white shirts are endless, every woman should own a white (not ivory, not off-white, not ecru, white) button up in a classic cut that fits them like a glove. My personal favorite is the Non-Iron Tailored Fit Shirt from Brooks Brothers. While it is a bit pricier than your average shirt it is made well, has a wonderful fit, and is easy to maintain. The shirt will last for years it is worth the investment.

One of my favorite looks pairs the classic button down with a camel pencil skirt. White with camel is clean, professional, and timeless. The key to keeping this look current and exciting is in the accessorizing. Adding a long but slightly delicate necklace keeps things classic but still fun. A dark burgundy heel adds a pop of color without losing sophistication. When the weather gets cooler add a pair of brown tights, either textured or flat.

(I hope it’s obvious that you’ll want the WHITE version of the shirts in this post. –Ed.)

Another easy way to wear your button up is by putting it under a shift dress. The shift dress is another staple piece that has a plethora of styling options (another post on the wonders of the shift dress later) and pairing it with the shirt creates a sophisticated look. The neutral shirt allows almost any color or patterned shift dress to be layered on top.

It is worth taking the time to try on a variety of different white shirts to see which fits best and what feels most comfortable. Look for a classic cut in a nice fabric, thinner whites can look cheap. You want the shirt to give you enough room across your shoulders to move around while also not pulling across the bust. This may take a few trips to various stores but it is worth investing the time and the money for a classic piece.


  1. Avatar Wade Coye says:

    I love these “dressing for success” pieces. Often we remember to coach our clients on how to present themselves in court, but forget that our professional look can carry even more weight. I agree 100% – a classic and crisp white shirt is hard to beat.

  2. Avatar Rachael says:

    White is incredibly unflattering on many people. In this day and age, with so many more choices, I don’t think the nod to tradition is worth the pasty complexion. A crisp shirt in pink, blue or even red is just as professional as white, but will make YOU look so much better.

Leave a Reply