Trends come and they go, but the white shirt perseveres in our wardrobes for reasons about as varied as the button-down styles that came to describe what timeless elegance is all about. Truth is, we all have one in our closets, perhaps the silky kind fit for the everyday, the crisp kind that lands ultimate polish to office attire, or the boyfriend kind, perfect to throw on with a pair of jeans, or to lounge in around the house when in search of supreme coziness.

In spring 2016, the white button-down is anything but the plain silhouette you associate with your first job interview, as the classic staple gets reinvented yet again.

Revived, refreshed, reimagined, here’s your ultimate guide to wearing the white shirt now.

White shirt: the timeless look

The white blouse can be light and floating, impeccable and austere, sumptuous and all-enveloping, tight and close-fitting. It rises up to frame the face. It sculpts the body by transforming itself into a second skin. Imputed with glamour and poetry, freedom and impetuousness, the prim white shirt turns out to have a thousand identities…” And in spring 2016, we’re ready to make room for some more.

White shirt: key looks.

Needless to say, the ways to wear a white button-down are countless, going from pure preppy to utter sophisticated, but a glance out on the streets just about reveals the key looks to sport now, inspired by blogger’s favourite ways to keep the wardrobe essential on-trend:

  • off-duty chic = crisp white shirt with extra long sleeves + pair of cuffed jeans + all black accessories (sunnies, bag, pumps);
  • office ready = silky white button-down with a relaxed fit + a tailored pair of flares (or pencil skirt) + pointy flats + delicate jewellery;

ultimate guide wearing the white shirt
Photos via Victoria Tornegren & The Golden Diamonds.

  • daytime dressing = a statement white shirt (try one with an open back, cut-outs, ruffles etc.) + on trend ‘70s skirt + lace-up sandals (flats, oxfords, heels);
  • cool & slouchy = crisp white shirt with oversized sleeves + slouchy pants + a pair of white sneakers;

ultimate guide wearing the white shirt
Photos via Ohh Couture & Modern Legacy.

  • minimal luxe = a white shirt redux + a pair of crisp white pants + statement lace-ups +/- chic cardigan worn over the shoulders;
  • evening luxe = a silky white shirt with a pussy bow (or one with embellished cuffs & collar) + full skirt + statement heels + blazer.

ultimate guide wearing the white shirt
Photos via Bittersweet Colors and Me & Margo.

Classic shirt, cool new ways to wear it.

From the DIY to the deconstructed, the classic white shirt embraces brand new silhouettes in 2016, the more unique the better. If you like your looks unconventional, you can either seek the white shirt redux in stores, try to make one for yourself, or search for the most creative ways to wear it now. Amongst them:

  • off-the-shoulders: which requires you to unbutton the first few buttons (three to five), slide the shirt off the shoulders, and either pop the collar out, or tuck it underneath.
  • strapless: which you do by unbuttoning half the up buttons, taking off the sleeves and tying them at the front, whichever creative way you like best.

ultimate guide wearing the white shirt
White shirt redux at Zac Posen and Joseph, S/S ’16

  • bow-effect: which you can achieve by unbuttoning a few buttons, taking off both sleeves, bringing them to the front and tying them together (you can use the same steps to create a one shoulder top by bringing one sleeve to the front, and the other sleeve to the back, and tying them together at the front).
  • button-up skirt: easy to recreate, the button-up skirt requires you to unbutton the first buttons, place the shirt so it sits on your waist – making sure the buttons are at the side, tie the sleeves around the waist. Unbutton more buttons from the bottom to create the desired slit.

ultimate guide wearing the white shirt
White shirt redux at Del Pozo and Altuzarra, S/S ’16

Spring 2016 revival.

New lengths.

We all know that the perfect shirt length is the one that allows you to tuck, or half-tuck, the button-down inside your pants or skirt, but when it comes to wearing the staple completely untucked, spring 2016 has you covered with its freshly imagined silhouettes.

The new lengths of the white shirt span in between cropped and cool, a silhouette rendered whole with scalloped hems and a boxier fit, and extra long and flowy, the high-low cut accompanied by breezy fabrics and simple lines.

Style the new classics with black separates, and do try an overall dress over the cropped white shirt, and a pair of relaxed tailored pants with the long, airy one.

ultimate guide wearing a white shirt
White shirts at Diesel Black Gold and Amanda Wakeley, S/S ’16

Fresh textures.

The white shirt is no longer just about crisp fabrics and perfect lines, and in 2016 it can be imbued with as much attitude as you feel comfortable carrying so, if you like your looks to bear a little more texture, do try:

  • a laser cut white shirt, for the perfect blend of classic and modern, girly but edgy, and wear it with equal statement skirts or pants.
  • a sheer white shirt, layering the see-through silhouette on top of an either sporty, or lacy bralette, but making sure its fit reads cool and relaxed.

ultimate guide wearing the white shirt
White shirts at No.21 and Vera Wang, S/S ’16

Voluminous sleeves.

Influenced by the new Victoriana, it’s no wonder the spring 2016 runways are all about sleeves and all about volume. To marry the best of two worlds, try a crisp white shirt with extra puffy sleeves this spring. Balance it out with flirty and feminine full skirts plus classy heels, or go opposite direction with a high-waisted pant silhouettes and eye-catching accessories.

ultimate guide wearing the white shirt
White shirts at Michael Kors & Fendi, S/S ’16


As the seasons change, so do the ruffles, that gain more and more exposure on the runway, and more and more attitude off the runway. In spring 2016, they even mark their way adorning the classic white shirt, thus adding to the closet staple’s countless makeovers.

Toe be included on your list of essentials for the warm season:

  • a white shirt adorned with 1970s inspired ruffles, to be worn with metallic separates and retro accessories;
  • a white shirt sexified with voluminous ruffles and a plunging neckline, to be polished off with classic separates and chic accessories.

ultimate guide wearing the white shirt
White shirts at No.21 and Tome, S/S ’16

Evening statements.

That the timeless white shirt entered evening territory is by no means something new, the fact that in 2016 it helps make even more of a statement after dark is however noteworthy.

To sport your favorite white shirt for a night out, you can either go with:

  • a simple, chic but boxier white button-down that you can dress up with a pair of shimmery shorts and metallic heels for the ultimate sophisticated boyish look;
  • a cropped white shirt that ties at the waist and leaves plenty of skin on show, styling the sexy but elegant look with floor-sweeping skirts and layered necklaces.

ultimate guide wearing the white shirt
White shirts at Tibi and Jenny Packham, S/S ’16

Shop the look.


ultimate guide wearing the white shirt
1. Marques’ Almeida Open-back ruffled poplin shirt at
2. Co Ruffled cotton-poplin shirt at
3. 3.1 Phillip Lim Draped Cotton Blouse at
4. Michael Kors Collection Cotton shirt at

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