Although sometimes they are known for being simple and boring, white button down shirts are also classic, elegant and timeless. They can be one of the most underestimated pieces in a woman’s closet. I’m here to show you that they can be the closet staple you were looking for. Today I’m very excited to share how to style a white shirt, 8 different things you can do with them and over 28 looks to inspire you to create some outfits of your own!
How to style a white shirt is actually super simple. Because white shirts are so simple and classic, there’s A LOT you can do with them and it is my hope today, that after you finish reading this blog post, you feel inspired to recreate some looks of your own and even better if you can do so with pieces you already have in your closet.
Ready to learn how to style a white shirt? Let’s do this!
Need to save some time? Jump straight to:
- My favorite brand for button down shirts
- Care instructions
- 8 things you can do with a button down shirt:
- Final thoughts
- Related posts you may also like
Estimated reading time: 14 minutes
My favorite white button down shirts
I only have one right now, but in these photos you’ll see 3 different ones (because the photos are form the past 5 years). One is from Loft, the other one from Forever 21 and the other one is from Grayson. Currently, I only rely on my Grayson white shirt. I love it so much! They are a little bit of a splurge, but they’ll will last you forever. Button down shirts are Grayson’s expertise and they do it right. It’s literally all they do.
Grayson is a pretty cool brand I came across a few months ago and even though they are a splurge, I recommend having at least one button down shirt as a part of your minimalist wardrobe. You’ll get so much use out of it. I only have one white button down shirt and I decided to get a linen one because you can really style them for the office as well as for the beach. I recommend this piece as a part of your Summer capsule wardrobe.
Sizing info: I’m wearing a size S. This is the exact one I have. They fit a little bit loose (which I recommend with this piece because it makes them more versatile). I know linen shirts can be a little bit pricey, so here are a couple of more affordable options:
- This one from Everlane ($80)
- If you are not interested in linen, here’s a classic cotton one from Lucky Brand ($44 on sale!)
Care instructions for a white button down shirt
As I recommend for every white top you have in your closet, use a stain remover every time you wash them if you sweat. No need to do this if you didn’t sweat. The reason why I recommend doing this, is to avoid the underarm area to get stained. I’ve been doing this for years, and it really helps to keep your white pieces in good shape. Basically what you are going to do is to spray the underarm area before you put it in the washer (even better if you let it soak for 10 mins).
Another thing I do sometimes is to add baking soda to my whites (1/4 cup). This is a cleaner way to keep your whites bright.
8 things you can do with a button down shirt
For this post I’m using a white button shirt (which are my favorite!), but feel free to recreate any of these looks with another color if white is not your thing. You can wear button down shirts with almost anything, they transition really good in between seasons and you can dress them up or down. Do I need to say more?
Notice that I try to use a lot of basic pieces with each outfit. I do this because A.) All I have are basic pieces and B.) Because I really want you to try to recreate these looks with things you already have in your closet.
Also, keep in mind that in this post I’m trying to teach you all the things you can do with a button shirt and not only how to style them, although I do share many outfits for inspiration. What I want is to help you think outside the box and see all the ways you could be wearing your button shirts and how to maximize the things you have in your closet.
#1 – Style them for the office:
This is the no-brainer and what most women wear a white shirt for. It looks great with pants, blazers, skirts, long vests, etc. Since white shirts are super classic, I always try to pair them with at least one bold piece. Even if you style it in a conservative way, do your hair different that day or add a bold lipstick or earrings. It makes all the difference.
Also consider adding a statement belt, a neck scarf, bold earrings, a printed jacket, etc. Just by doing something as small as adding a bold piece, it will elevate your look and your button down shirt won’t look plain at all!
How to style a white shirt for the office – Outfit Ideas
#2 – Dress it up! Have fun with the rest of the pieces you are wearing.
White shirts always look amazing with bold skirts. And if you have pearls, it’s a match made in heaven.
Other ways you can dress it up: with sequin pants or skirts, if you have a fancy jumpsuit and want to tone it down a little, you can tie the white shirt around your waist and it will look amazing (more on this style tip below). I used things I had in my closet, so I didn’t create many looks, but make sure to take out all your bold pieces and try to see if they would look good with a white shirt.
You can also make it look sexy! Say whaaaat!? Let me tell you, it’s possible. What I like to do is to unbutton them and wear a lace cami or bralette underneath. You can try this with jeans and high heels, OTK boots or a pencil skirt. It will look great every time and it’s a perfect date night look.
Also read: How to wear a long cardigan
How to dress up a white shirt – Outfit Ideas
#3 – Tie it, don’t button it!
This is one of my favorite ways to style a white shirt and I think it’s how I style them more often. It’s easy, and as I mention earlier, you can tie them over anything; skirts, dresses, jumpsuits, jeans. The sky is the limit.
This is a great tip to maximize every piece you have in your closet because by tying a button down shirt over a dress, you’ll make it look like a skirt! Seriously, try this over any sleeveless dress or jumpsuit you have! It’s such an easy outfit to put together with just 2 pieces.
How to tie a button up shirt – Outfit Ideas
PS: we are currently traveling the world full time! ** If interested in checking out my updated travel outfits (right now we’re in Mexico!) check out this link!** (I just travel with a small suitcase and create many many cute looks – and of course I have my Grayson white shirt with me!)
#4 – Wear it with shorts & mini skirts for Summer or as a cover-up:
White shirts look great with shorts and skirts, which makes them perfect for Summer. It will upgrade any plain Summer look in a second! Roll up your sleeves if it’s too hot and accessorize with a fun necklace, hats or espadrilles and you’ll look super chic. And remember, you can always throw it over your swimsuit at the beach or pool. There’s a reason why I added this closet staple to my Summer capsule wardrobe!
How to wear a white shirt for Summer – Outfit Ideas
# 5 – Layer it! Wear it all year round!
White shirts are super easy to layer, like most button down shirts. This is how I like to style them during the colder months of the year. You can layer it underneath a dress, with a denim jacket or a sweater. As you may have noticed, I love pairing my white shirt with a denim jacket.
All you have to do is to throw a sweater over or even wear it open OVER your sweaters and add an extra layer with a puffer vest of jacket.
How to style a white shirt for Fall & Winter – Outfit Ideas
# 6 – Wear it open with a t-shirt or white cami underneath
Remember you don’t always have to button up your white shirt (or any button down shirt). I love to layer it with a white cami or white t-shirt underneath. It makes it look so much different don’t you think?
It’s an easy way to add a light layer to any outfit. I like to do this if I’m going to be outside a lot and it’s hot and sunny. I use this style tip to protect my shoulder from the sun instead of wearing sunscreen every time. You can also throw it over a dress and it’s up to you if you roll up the sleeves or not (I usually roll them though).
How to wear a white shirt without buttoning it – Outfit Ideas
#7 – Plain with skinny jeans (it never fails!)
The most classic wear to style a white shirt; with heels and skinny jeans. Such a classic look and I love it so much! You can also wear white sneakers or flats and it will be a more casual look but still so chic. This look never fails and it’s good to have in mind for those days where you don’t know what to wear. A classic look will never go out of style.
Feel free to add a necklace or accessories like a hat, belt or even bold shoes. Since you are wearing 2 very basic pieces like jeans and a shirt, then you can really have fun with the rest!
How to style a white shirt with jeans – Outfit Ideas
#8 – Style it with Spanx leggings (or any leggings you have)
Don’t forget your leggings! I love my Spanxs (I wrote a Spanx leggings review here if you want to take a look). I love to style my white shirt with leggings for traveling. It’s such a comfy look! I obviously don’t have children, otherwise I would never wear a white shirt for traveling days LOL, so I understand these looks are not for everyone, but I still hope you like them.
Styling a white shirt with Spanx Leggings – Outfit Ideas
Also read: How to style an oversized sweater
Final thoughts on how to style a white shirt:
As you can see a white button down shirt is a very versatile piece that every girls needs in her closet in whatever version you choose to have it. You can style it all year round which is super important and wear it casually as well as to go out.
I think I wear my white shirt every week pretty much and I always style it differently. It’s part of my minimalist wardrobe and I will always have one in my closet. I hope you do the same, even if you choose a color different than white.
Having less things and learning how to really take advantage of the pieces I already have has been great. I never look at my closet and think ‘I have nothing to wear’ anymore and I rarely waste any time thinking about stuff like this any more. I cannot recommend it enough! I promise you will free up so much space from your mind and you will save time and money for things that actually matter.
So, any thoughts on white button down shirts? Do you have one? What are your favorite ways to style it? Let me know in the comments below! As you can see they are very versatile. Hope you understand why I freaking love white shirts so much!
If you don’t have one and are considering adding this closet staple to your capsule wardrobe, here are the best options out there (considering quality and price):
- Also, Jenni Kayne (an amazing sustainable brand) has a few excellent options (just keep in mind they are a little bit more expensive)
If you have any questions, feel free to DM me on Instagram or leave a comment below. I’m always here to help with any doubts, styling tips or questions you may have.
Thanks so much for stopping by. Hope you have a great weekend!
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Other classic style posts worth checking out too:
- How to build a minimalistic wardrobe – Step by step.
- How to wear a white Tshirt – 40 different looks
- How to create your own capsule wardrobe for Fall + outfit ideas
- Learn how to style your pajamas as daywear – 4 super cute Spring/Summer looks
- How to style a black dress
- 70+ outfits with a jean jacket for every season
- What to wear with leather leggings – 10 updated Spring looks
- Your ethical clothing brand shopping guide – Support sustainable clothing
- How to create a Summer capsule wardrobe
- Read this Spanx Leggings Review before you spend a dime
- How to Style a white blazer – 10 stylish white blazer outfits for you to recreate!