December 15, 2008

The Perfect White Shirt: How To Find One On A Budget

I got a query last week from an Anonymous reader (*sigh*...but I was still excited) about a white collared shirt that I was wearing in a picture of myself that I posted last week. If I were so talented, I would certainly write an ode to the White Shirt. A wardrobe staple with exponential possibilities, the White Shirt is just like the 1st and the 15th, it's always on time.

So to answer the reader's query: I bought the shirt from Target last summer. Since it's beginning to lose its bright white luster, it will soon be retired and I'll be on the hunt for its replacement.

First of all (and if you didn't know it and it's OK if you'd didn't, because you have TBS:-)), you should definitely have a white collared shirt in your wardrobe. No matter your size, it will function as one of the cornerstone of your closet. Next, find the best quality and texture that you can afford. While the one the picture was from Tar-zhay, I also have a back-up that came from Land's End. Land's End is a great source for a novice shopper or those who are minding budgets. You'll want to be sure that the shirt is form-fitting but not too tight. It should be comfortable enough should you decide to layer it under a blazer, cardigan or v-neck sweater.

Once you're comfortable with the basics, you might also graduate to textures. Textures typically come with a slightly more pricey tag, but watch for sales. Think mens' shirt textures such as pinpoint and herringbone and how polished they appear. Outfitters such as Thomas Pink (which is usually very pricey) offer sales after the Christmas Holiday (and in January) and around June (to tap into the Father's Day shopper market). If you sign up for Thomas Pink's email service, you should receive notifications.

I recommend that you only dry clean your white shirt and only wear it once for the best appearance. For a signature look, ask the dry cleaner to starch your collar up (thanks for the tip, Monica!). If you do not prefer to "pop" your collar, a little height still looks great and medium starch should do you. To the contrary, do not allow your perfect White Shirt to overstay its welcome. It, unfortunately, will not last forever. Do begin shopping when it begins to look (dare I say?) jaundiced. A "yellow" White Shirt is not an ideal look. Go with me on this!
Is there a collared white shirt in your wardrobe? Where do you usually buy them?Any preservation tips to share?
Photo credit:Talbots


  1. I don't like to have anything white dry cleaned unless I know for sure that they change the cleaning fluid regularly. Dry cleaning is hard on your clothes, and that dinginess can be avoided with careful laundering. I prefer to launder my own shirts putting a little bluing in the water to brighten it. Baking soda is fabulous for perspiration stains, while a little Palmolive dish soap does wonders for ring around the collar.

    I like to put a little liquid starch in the final rinse, and only dry it to dampness. That way when I press it, I get a crisp finish.

  2. It is time for me to have another white shirt (or three lol) but it is one of my sewing goals to make one this year.

  3. Why do I now want Roslyn to launder all of my white shirts for me? LOL

    I love a crisp wite shirt. I have several. Plain, tuxedo.

    Jeans and a white shirt are my basics. You can always dress them up with accesories and bags/shoes.

    Great post.

  4. @roslynholcomb: how environmentally friendly, safe and seemingly less expensive than the cleaners! We might need a virtual tutorial...seriously.

  5. I love white shirts! It's about time for me to make a few more! I plan to do one with french cuffs, tuxedo style and a short sleeve for warm weather.

  6. Yall know I'm QUEEN of the crisp white shirt. I ain't saying where I get em though. :)

  7. I always have several white shirts on hand. I don't spend a lot of time deciding what to wear so most days my outfits consist of a shirt with slacks or jeans.

    Roslyn that's exactly how I wash my shirts except for the bluing. My mother uses the bluing and I complete forgot about it, thanks for the reminder.

  8. Oops...and for preservation I have several and never wear them more than a few times.;l.. a year. And I never, ever, EVER wear them between washings more than once. I don't let them hang in the closet on wire hangers either and I use cotton shoulder covers so dust doesn't get on the shoulders between uses.

    Yeah...I'm a bit obsessed with my white shirts. LOL!

  9. I just purchase a new one each season. I have bought them from Target and NY & Co. Oh and I wash them and hang them to dry.


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