How to wear the essentials: white shirt

by 40+Style

How to wear a white shirt

Sometimes the nicest clothes are the most simple. The white shirt is a classic item that will never go out of style. It is a must-have for every woman.

I have recently fallen in love with the white shirt again. I featured it this Monday and will feature it again next week.

Here are just some of the advantages of a nice white blouse

  • It gives you a clean crisp look.
  • It combines with every other color you have.
  • It is a perfect background for your fabulous accessories like jewelry and scarves.
  • It is perfect to wear with all the printed trousers that are so fashionable now.
  • You can wear them in so many different ways.
    – Tuck them in.
    – Wear with a bult
    – Semi tuck
    – Wear them lose over a singlet
    – Tie a knot in front
    – Wear to the Oscars with a formal long skirt (remember Sharon Stone!)

There are a few drawbacks as well

  • It can make you look a bit washed out (adding accessories can help with this)
  • They get dirty really quickly (Getting the right product for washing can help. Heather recently published tips on keeping whites white and she currently has a giveaway of her favorite whitening product. Be sure to check that out!)

With those points in mind let’s have a look at some fabulous examples of women wearing the white blouse in style! Although all these examples are from young women, it will serve as great inspiration for us women over 40 as well.

With pants

how to wear white shirt with pants

With Skirts

how to wear white blouse with skirt

Here are some more ideas and examples of white shirts that you can buy in stores right now.

How do you feel about the white blouse? Is it an essential for you? How do you wear it?


Images via Pinterest: top: black pants, yellow pants, Pants red pants, green pants, blue pants, blue skirt, grey skirt, pink skirt (please note that I will always try to credit the original creator of the image. Unfortunately, not all photos contained links to the original source. If one of these belongs to you, please let me know and I will add your link).

1 Rita

I like to have a white blouse and several white tee’s on hand for layering. I don’t care for the semi-tucked, just got out of bed look, and I would not wear one unbuttoned down to my naval.

2 Sylvia

No I think few of us would wear it that far buttoned down. But I did like that photo and if you imagine the blouse a bit more buttoned up with the simplicity of the black and gold jewellery, I think it would be a great look for many women over 40.

3 Renae

Not a fan of the semi-tucked look either. As for the unbuttoned look, it is hard to maintain that crispness through a day but it is wearable with a pale neutral or white under it. Think cami with lace or tank. I love white shirts, I have way too many of them.

4 Lorraine

Semi-tucked would look sloppy rather than chic if I did it!

5 cabellin

That’s one of the best basics. I’m a fan of white shirts, I have several, cotton, knitted, sheer , long sleeves, 3/4 etc, etc
Perfect with blue jeans, black pants and skirts, and printed pants

6 Sylvia

Yes I think so too. It’s perfect for the very popular printed pants now and that’s exactly how I’ve recently worn it!

7 Greetje

I love and hate them. I love the look but they are dangerous for my figure. Never fit across the chest. When I wear them tucked in, I become very broad at the top and tiny around the hips. Like a man. So it is quite a hassle to make a white shirt work for me.
I will keep on trying though as I like the crispy look. Especially in summer when I am more tanned.

8 Sylvia

I have always liked white, but it can be a bit pale against my skin. I’m sure I’d wore them all the time if I was able to wear more jackets…

9 Marie S

I am eating my lunch at my desk at work and wearing a white shirt right now! Yes I do like them and would like another one.

10 Sylvia

Nice that my blog can be your lunch companion Marie!

11 valentine

One of my basics, I wear them with silk scarves in the summer and under coats the rest of the year.

12 Sylvia

Yes, they are perfect to combine with scarves!

13 Meggen

I just purchased a cute twin set from Lilla P. It is a great knit tank and cropped knit sweater in white. I also have about 4 really well made white cotton blouses and a couple of off white silk tops. Big collars help to add interest. French cuffs or smart buttons can make a white blouse much more interesting.
Banana Republic has great oxford cloth right now. Good pricing.
I love piling necklaces, scarves… anything.

14 Sylvia

Yes you can be more creative with jewellery with white. I love big collars too but for some reasons all my current white shirts are now without it.. Thanks for the shopping tip!

15 Mrs C

The button down on the model on the left is super gorgeous! I want a pair please.. do you happened to know who made that piece?


16 Sylvia

Unfortunately I don’t have any info on the blouses featured in the images…

17 Lorraine

I haven’t worn conventional long-sleeved blouses for some years but have various white tops for summer. White t-shirts are a must have item to wear under cardis and jackets. White is not great next to my face unless I have a tan though.

18 Sylvia

They are not the perfect color for me either, but I wear them any way…. Conventional white shirts look great with scarves. Perhaps give that a try?

19 Christina

I bought my very first white shirt last fall – only because Tim Gunn recommends it as a wardrobe staple. I’d never considered it before! So, I bought a very simple, medium quality white shirt. Kendall Farr says there are countless shades of white, and you need to get in natural light to determine if you have one that works with your complexion. A starting point would be to determine if you need a warm or cool shade of white. I was surprised to discover a cool, bright white worked better for me – not what I would have expected! She advises not removing tags until you are 100% sure you’ve purchased the right white shirt for your colouring.
I’ve come to appreciate my white shirt for it’s classic simplicity. I usually wear it with a black skirt, so it is super simple basic look, but feels elegant and understated at the same time.

20 Sylvia

Funny. I don’t think I have ever not had a white blouse. I like its simplicity and to wear it with one other color.
Here is Singapore though my conventional long sleeved shirt with collar does not get a lot of wear. I miss it. I’m sure I would wear it a lot more with jackets if I lived in a colder climate.

21 dan

…in my opinion there are just a few things more elegant of a white shirt. It goes with almost everything and make you look great!

22 Ofelia

I own an extra large men Geoffrey Beene white shirt that I wear all the time with jeans, skirts and capris.

23 Becca

Thanks for this post Sylvia, I’m a huge white shirt fan, but always struggle with that yellow, dingy ring around the collar. I find the upkeep on them is a pain, but have some tips in a post I wrote about white shirts. Lemon juice and shampoo!

love your blog.


24 Teresa Freeland

I love a white shirt and always have at least two or three different versions on hand. As mentioned, white shirts are like a woman’s canvas, we can paint any picture we want when we wear one. I alluded to the white shirt and Sharon Stone in my blog post under Donuts and Wine – the post was Sharon, Emma, and Me.

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