The Classic White Shirt

Ah, the classic white shirt. It’s versatile, wearable, and flattering. It might have long sleeves or no sleeves. It could be full and boxy, long and flowing, or slim and fitted but it always includes a collar and some buttons. It is usually made of cotton but there are versions in linen, silk or rayon. No matter what the shape, style or fabrication the white shirt is always chic. You can wear one to almost any occasion, be it for work or play. I have yet to see a wardrobe “must have” list without a mention of a classic fitted white blouse.

Personally I have half a dozen white shirts in various shapes and sizes. One day last week I wore my oversized version with a denim mini, chunky black sandals and an armful of bracelets but I’ve also worn it as a cover up to the beach. My more dainty white shirts have been paired with everything from jeans or shorts to flirty skirts. Usually I wear them simply with a skirt or trousers, but I’ve seen them layered under a strapless prom dress or worn, uniform style, under a romper. No matter how sexy or eclectic the rest of outfit is this classic white shirt lends a feeling of simplicity and respectability. They harmonize with just about everything.

One of the best things about a classic white shirt is that they are very affordable. Thrift stores overflow with white shirts. If you prefer your shirts new you can always head to the men’s or boy’s department for a deal even at full price. If your taste runs to the expensive there are plenty of designer versions too. In addition to being affordable they also never really go out of fashion. So if you do invest a chunk of money in a high quality garment you will have a white blouse to wear for many, many years.

There are drawbacks to the classic white shirt however. Although all of mine are machine washable they must be ironed to look their best. Sending them out to be pressed can get expensive so I iron mine at home when I have time.  I know many people don’t like to iron, or they simply don’t have the equipment or the space. And then of course there’s the color. White seems like it should look good on everyone, but some people find it washes them out. I really have no solutions for these issues but I would suggest trying out a white shirt anyway. The one I’m wearing in these photos cost less than $5 at the Goodwill. At that price why not add a classic white shirt to your closet and see how you like it?


  • Shirt – The Gap via The Goodwill
  • Skirt – The Gap
  • Purse – Nordstroms
  • Sandals – Kenneth Cole Sole My Heart
  • Watch – Target
  • Chain bracelet – Forever 21 (or was it Wet Seal?)

Do you have a classic white shirt? What do you think of them? Are they a closet necessity or just really boring?

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24 Responses to The Classic White Shirt

  1. Pam
    September 10, 2012 at 8:28 am #

    I have to be careful…I have too many white shirts because I love them. I think I will try one with my denim skirt like you did. I also love them with leggings. You did a great look here and I always enjoy your pictures.
    Pam recently posted..Runway Inspiration…Visibility That’s Black & BlueMy Profile

    • Heather Fonseca September 10, 2012 at 9:10 pm #

      Can you ever have too many of your favorite things? I don’t think so. But like you I tend to buy a lot of what I love, and sometimes have to step back and remind myself I already have a lot.

  2. Alexis Grace September 10, 2012 at 9:59 am #

    I definitely think a white shirt belongs in everyone’s wardrobe! It is such an easy staple- available in so many forms, I truly believe there is one out there for everyone.
    Alexis Grace recently posted..Jill Stuart S/S 2013 CollectionMy Profile

    • Heather Fonseca September 10, 2012 at 9:09 pm #

      I agree Alexis! Sometimes you just have to look a lot. Finding a bunch at the Goodwill really opened the door for me on the classic white shirt. Now I wonder how I ever lived without them.

  3. Playing With Scarves September 10, 2012 at 5:31 pm #

    I don’t have one white shirt in my closet, I have tens – that I wear on a pair of jeans, a pencil skirt or on a dress. In addition to that, I dteal my husband’s shirts (which drives him nuts but I don’t care!!!)
    To me it’s more than a basic. It’s a must have. It can both casual or elegant (a pair of jeans, a white shirt, and a silk scarf… Done).
    Love your whole outfit. Very stylish. And your purse is just adorable.
    Thanks for sharing 🙂

    • Heather Fonseca September 10, 2012 at 9:08 pm #

      I agree! They’re so great and look good with so many things. Thank you so much for the nice compliments!

  4. Marti September 11, 2012 at 12:14 pm #

    I’m one of those who gets washed out when wearing white.
    But love the way it looks

    • Heather Fonseca September 12, 2012 at 5:40 pm #

      White can be a difficult color. Difficult to keep clean and it doesn’t look great on everyone. Maybe try off-white?

  5. Rachel
    September 11, 2012 at 4:39 pm #

    I love white shirts. I’ve been sort of living in a silky one for months, can’t seem to get enough of it. It is actually a soft ivory color, so not solid white, and maybe that is why it works with everything, in a subtle way. I do love white shirts too though, the problem is they get so dirty because I would wear it on the farm. Great photos as usual!

    • Heather Fonseca September 12, 2012 at 5:39 pm #

      Well, no farm near me, so all I have to worry about with my white shirts is coffee! I like the idea of a silky off white one. I don’t have that, and I think it might be missing from my wardrobe.

  6. Jeannie
    September 11, 2012 at 5:03 pm #

    I whole heartily agree with you! Although, I just might have one too many…
    Love the simple look! Gorgeous as always!
    Jeannie recently posted..A weekend in Big Orange Country and the winner is….My Profile

    • Heather Fonseca September 12, 2012 at 5:38 pm #

      You can never have too many good things in life Jeannie. Whats important is the appreciation, and I have a feeling you appreciate every shirt. (:

  7. SACRAMENTO September 12, 2012 at 1:41 am #

    I steel them from my husband, lol
    Thank you, my dear, Heather.
    SACRAMENTO recently posted..My BirthdayMy Profile

    • Heather Fonseca September 12, 2012 at 5:38 pm #

      Welcome my dear! Many kisses to you too and happy birthday.

  8. Shanti September 12, 2012 at 6:16 am #

    love those shoes!! Another set of beautiful photos, a classy outfit on a classy lady! Was looking at your doll drawings today, wow, amazing!

    • Heather Fonseca September 12, 2012 at 5:37 pm #

      Thank you Shanti. Believe it or not I do those drawings for a living. I can’t put any of my new designs up because of client confidentiality, but I do them all the time.

  9. Stacey - Total City Girl
    September 12, 2012 at 9:02 am #

    I do have a white button down shirt that I really love. Hadn’t worn it in ages and then finally broke it out of my closet this summer to wear casually – similar to how you are wearing it. I did notice however on the sleeves it was starting to yellow. I hate that about white clothes!! Not sure what to do about that. Any suggestions?
    Stacey – Total City Girl recently posted..9th Birthday Celebration – The Family DinnerMy Profile

    • Heather Fonseca September 12, 2012 at 5:35 pm #

      OH, the yellow staining is hard. Bleach doesn’t help, in fact it will probably make it worse. You might want to dry some of that oxy stuff, and then let it sit out in the sun. I’ve heard that soaking the stain in lemon juice helps as well.

  10. Sylvia
    September 12, 2012 at 9:21 pm #

    I used to really like the white shirt, but they have fallen out of favour a bit as they look a bit pale on me and i can’t seem to keep them clean. In my recent wardrobe editing another went away, so should really buy a good new one. But a nice white shirt always looks fresh and so it does on you. I’m also really loving your shoes! They look comfortable too!
    Sylvia recently posted..The best tops to hide your tummy in stores nowMy Profile

    • Heather Fonseca September 13, 2012 at 8:44 am #

      The shoes are super-comfortable. They’re new, purchased on sale, and I just love them. As for the white shirts they are a pain to keep clean, though I have a harder time keeping white t-shirts clean honestly.

  11. DressCode:HighFashion
    September 14, 2012 at 2:10 am #

    Hey dear,

    I love love love the first picture – so relaxed, clear & resting in yourself. Truly a zen-mood.

    You`re right, the classic white shirt is an eternal must have and will never disapear. It`s only weakness is that it`s a seasonal piece for spring & summer only. (Maybe you have enough sunshine in L.A. to wear it all wear long but I could never imagine it in our grey european winter, which lasts from september til march).

    Have a nice weekend, Jen

    PS: Why have you given up on IFB? I had the impression you got lots of positive response there!
    DressCode:HighFashion recently posted..Links a la Mode (september 13th) – this week`s 20 best posts voted by the Independent Fashion BloggersMy Profile

    • Heather Fonseca September 14, 2012 at 10:41 am #

      Yeah, a white shirt is a year-round piece here in sunny L.A. I wish we had more seasonal weather honestly! Glad you like the photos. It was a fun shoot.
      As for IFB, I feel like they’re only catering to a certain kind of blogger that doesn’t include me. I’ll probably go back to submitting my posts to IFB, but it irks me that a lot of the people who are chosen don’t put the links up. There are other irks too, but like I said I’ll probably return eventually.

  12. Gina
    September 15, 2012 at 8:15 pm #

    You look so lovely and relaxed in the first photo. Are you dying in this heat like I am. When will it stop? We haven’t taken pictures for a week because every time I step out of the house I melt.
    Gina recently posted..BluesMy Profile

    • Heather Fonseca September 16, 2012 at 10:41 am #

      Yes, I’m dying of the heat too. I try not to go on about it but I’ll start talking about it soon because it’s been hard as heck to take photos in this heat. It’s hard to even get dressed in this heat! Looking chic is darn near impossible.