Hit The White

The full low-down on summer fashion’s greatest staple— the white shirt — whether you’re a classic or an edgy, blue-jeans guy

By Dhara Vora Sabhnani

Read any actor/model/designer/ industrialist/whatchamacallit interview, and we guarantee that their answer to ‘What’s your wardrobe staple?’ is a button-down white shirt and blue jeans.

Whether it is real-life ambassadors — like Tom Ford, who is always seen in a button-down white shirt and black suit — or reel-style icons (who can forget Don Draper and his emergency drawer full of fresh, crisp white shirts in his office in Mad Men?), a white shirt will never go out of style. It looks good on everyone, there is a cut and style for all, and you can wear it to your office or a last- minute right-swipe date. In fact, it’s that one piece of clothing in your wardrobe that your date can borrow, wear the next morning, and still look fab in. In case you didn’t know, an oversized white shirt is a must-have in every cool girl’s wardrobe, too. A white dress shirt and a white shirt dress are just a wordplay away from each other. It comes close to what a little black dress (LBD) means to a woman.


Since 2020, working and surviving from home has made us lazy about dressing up. So much so that co-ord and pyjama sets are still in demand, with many high street and luxury options to buy. However luxe, sweatpants still belong to one end of the styling spectrum. And the other major style trend across men and womenswear in 2023 is stealth- wealth or understated luxury, where you don’t care about going maximal with your price tag, and occasionally, your style. This has brought back tailored pieces and classic silhouettes back in fashion. Sum it up to an ‘I-don’t-care’ attitude, as two years of being at home has pushed many of us towards a constant carpe-diem mood, as you never know if another lockdown beckons.

“Post the pandemic, the fashion market is moving towards the opposite ends of the spectrum. This has been seen in consumption patterns and with the trends. One set of buyers loves the athleisure and lounge sets. While so many of us missed the maximalist era of the red carpet during the pandemic, and once the world opened, we saw a couture resurgence, as everyone was excited to dress up and have fun with fashion,” comments celebrity and editorial stylist Divyak D’Souza. And a button-down white shirt fits snugly in both spaces. This means a Rs 80,000 Gucci shirt is something you can wear under a tux, or with a denim jacket and joggers for your coffee run.

“Since the pandemic, in addition to the relaxed or maximalist style, people have started believing in the serious investment of hardworking wardrobe staples and are building an enduring wardrobe that is seasonless and filled with classic and versatile pieces that can be repurposed and re-worn. Re-wearing is gaining momentum and the white shirt has reclaimed its space as the most enduring wardrobe staple,” says D’Souza.

Indian designers, too, are reimagining the white shirt in great ways, with Indian textile as well, for occasion wear, like designer Urvashi Kaur, says the stylist. “Maybe the silhouette is not still the shirt, but the original inspiration is from the blankness and tailoring of a white shirt. There is repeat value to it.”

Indie designers that D’Souza suggests you check include Sand by Shirin’s organic cotton and linen shirts with an off-centre band collar. Spacelines also has cool gender-neutral co-ord sets in cotton and poplin, which is D’Souza’s work wardrobe staple for shoots. Effortless and comfortable, a white shirt can be paired and accessorised to make it your own look.

“I recently bought a boxy crop women’s shirt from the JW Anderson and Uniqlo collaboration, and it works for men, too. The interpretations are different. For pop culture references, look at Diljit Dosanjh’s recent Coachella performance in a white lungi and a kurta which is true to his roots, but it is crisp white, and he accessorised it with cool streetwear brands. It is a take on the white shirt, crossing cultures, and easy to mix into a wardrobe that may be local,” D’Souza sums up. Regardless of your choice, the collar should sit well, the shirt shouldn’t be tight, but tailored, and playing with proportions is the easiest way to stand out in a room full of white shirts (think, baggy denim with an oversized white shirt).

Reproduced with permission from Mansworldindia.com

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