It’s a kind of sartorial miracle when the same piece worn by the likes of Angelina Jolie and Gwyneth Paltrow is also worn by your dad at every wedding he’s ever attended (and every member of the wait staff, too). That, my friends, is a testament to the unparalleled versatility and unisex power a white shirt holds.
I use the phrase ‘simple yet effective’ far too often, but the white shirt is perhaps the item that most warrants the application of it. It’s so classic and enduring that it’s easy to overlook. Case in point: I’m a huge shirt person – can’t get enough of them – but I have a wardrobe packed full of striped button-ups, with no white shirt in sight.
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I intend on remedying this situation as soon as I find that elusive white shirt I fantasise about: a collar that’s crisp but not stiff, a masculine silhouette, but without gigantic sleeves and it looking like a shirt dress on me, and the right thickness that means it’s lightweight but not see-through (did I mention I’m a fussy dresser?)
To provide me with the motivation I need to fast track this search, I reached out to six Australian creatives, to see how they style this classic to end all classics.
Vy T, owner of Lune Selects?
White shirts are such classic forever pieces. I don’t believe in ‘the one’. I’ve accumulated quite a few favourites over the years – they’re hard to walk away from when the fit is right. All of mine are vintage, as I rarely buy anything new.
This is one of my faves that has been residing in my wardrobe for a few years now. I bought it at a vintage store in San Fran after falling in love with the unique cut, subtly frayed finish and covered buttons. It’s a great layering piece – the dramatic sleeve and pointy collar are perfect with this vintage vest. I love that this piece is wearable year-round, it works well as a lightweight jacket in the warmer months too.
Bemi Bedlu, bartender and content creator
I got this tapered fit men’s linen shirt from a sample box at work. It just sat in the back of my wardrobe for ages until I decided to crop it and give it new life. It definitely worked because it’s now my favourite top!
I’m a big fan of oversized shirts, but I find myself gravitating towards this one way more. I like styling it under cropped tank tops with high waisted pants in winter, or I’ll wear it in summer with a cheeky underboob moment – because why not? When in doubt, crop it.
Neo Frost, creative director of Die Horny
I am wearing the A Biography of Seduction shirt by my label Die Horny. It’s an up-cycled blank white cotton shirt with oversized cuffs and we’ve added ties, black line embroidery, loose frayed hems and ruching. It’s also printed with a hand-written excerpt from the poem Figs by D.H. Lawrence. It’s my take on the classic white shirt, with a little added seduction.
The shirt is so timeless – it’s versatile, looks great on everyone and is such a staple in the wardrobe.?Here I’ve gone for a very classic black and white look. I’ve paired the shirt with a black ankle-length skirt and white chunky Birkenstocks. I love to wear oversized shirts over skirts, it just flows so nicely.
Ginger and Carman, content creators and slow fashion advocates
Anything frilly is not a style usually found in Carman’s wardrobe, but this circa ’90s Ralph Lauren white ruffled shirt – with its voluminous folds and crisp white cotton – is a definite staple. “It elevates any of my tailored jackets and gives a kind of contrasting romantic vibe”, she says.
My fave white shirt is a rockin’ fitted number from Saba and an excellent Vinnies find. I rarely have formal looks in my wardrobe, but this had enough edge, style and integrity to be an exception. Both of us are pairing the shirts with golden finds from Paris and London flea markets.
Carman can’t resist the military look with brass buttoning and I’ve got a classic pinstripe belted coat. Although we love scouring for vintage, both of us are wearing newly bought pants. Carman’s wearing black Penny Sage flares and I’ve got my Karen Walker linen checks. Original ’70s belts seal the deal!
Aleiya Blake, model and content creator?
This white shirt dress from Sabo Skirt is such a staple in my wardrobe. I can wear the top on its own as a dress, or add the tassel skirt for a bit of fun (both are from Sabo!) I love how feminine this outfit makes me feel and it was only right to add the tiniest shoulder bag I own.
For tips on how to make your clothing last longer, try this.