Capsule Wardrobe Essentials: The White Shirt

It’s a classic for a reason

Whenever you read one of those ‘10 ITEMS YOU NEED IN YOUR CAPSULE WARDROBE‘ articles you can pretty much bet that along with a pair of black pointy toe court shoes, a leather jacket, jeans and a blazer, that a white shirt will be on there. It will most probably be accompanied by the line ‘It’s a classic for a reason and can be worn in so many different ways’ which is both nauseatingly cliche and true at the same time.

I’ll be honest here. A crisp white cotton shirt has never previously been a win for me. They’ve always been too tight on the arm, too workwear feeling, too formal for me. I’d just never found the right one. A slinky white silk shirt? Sure, the Equipment Silk Shirt has been a non-negotiable in my wardrobe for a couple of years now and it’s something that I get a lot of use out of, but until this & Other Stories Oversized Cotton Shirt made it’s way into my wardrobe I just never got what all the fuss is about. Now I’ve found ‘it’, I get it. I am fully on the white shirt rave train about five years later than everyone else. It’s so multi-tasking! It’s chic! It’s a classic! Count me in. I’m armed with all the cliches. If you’ve been struggling to pin down this simple, but oddly elusive capsule wardrobe basic too, then this post goes out to you…

Here’s where I went wrong before. I previously bought shirts that were too fitted and looked like something I would have worn in the early 2000’s to channel the Britney and Christina school-girl trend. You remember those shirts that had about a million eyelet fastenings down the front? Yeah those. Not only did they take about twenty minutes to do up, they were also just a little too tight around the arms and the torso and that’s not really the vibe here. If you’re going for a silk skirt then a slim fit that’s still a little roomy is perfect. You’ve got plenty of fabric to tuck in if you want to, or just let it drape over your waistline if that’s more your style. However if it’s a cotton shirt that you’re eyeing up then make sure that it has some extra fabric cut around the top of the arms and the chest area, so that it doesn’t sit too close to the body and gives more of an oversized feel. Don’t worry about the arms either because it’s a fact that a sleeve looks chicer scrunched up, so don’t panic if you have a lot of excess fabric there. Basically, if you’re ever in doubt – size up – then scrunch, tuck and unbutton and see what you’re working with.

I have Lizzy to thank for this one again, because she has been singing the & Other Stories Oversized Shirt’s praises for yonks and as always, she’s bloody right. Whereas I’d usually recommend sizing up when it comes to cotton shirts to get that ‘stolen from my boyfriend’ effect, & Other Stories have already accommodated for that, so actually I’d go against my word and size down with this one. Other ones that have caught my eye and are actually about a third of the price thanks to the summer sales – WHOOP – include the Mango Oversize Cotton Blouse. It looks very similar and the styling is phwoor on the model, but it does only have buttons down to the chest so perhaps isn’t the one for you if you wish to do the whole crop top thang. The Mango Concealed Button Shirt looks like it has a bit more bagginess to it and buttons that go all the way down. If you fancy treating yourself then this KOWTOW Classic Organic Shirt looks perfectly cut and is made from sustainable and ethically sourced fabric, so you can do your good deed of the day too. If you type ‘white shirt’ into any of your favourite shops online you’re going to be faced with an absolute shedload of results and it’s hard to know how to start sifting through. I’d recommend reading the size and fit information and make a click whenever you see the word ‘oversized’ and if you can, buy a couple to try on and return the rest so you can really test out the different cuts and fits available.


The heatwave has actually been a great testing ground for my white shirt experiment, as it’s really demoed the full range of outfit possibilities that you can pair it with. In a move that makes me feel a little like I should be in Grease, I button it hallway down and then knot it at the bottom, tucking the two loose ends in and making it into a billowing crop shirt. With the sleeves rolled up and left untucked it looks nice and casual paired with some straight leg jeans and slides. I’ve enjoyed wearing it tucked in at the front with denim shorts – ‘French Tuck‘ Tan France style. Or it’s a great faux-jacket to have handy when it’s too hot to actually wear a jacket, but you know it’s going to get a little chillier in the evening, so I wear it over a vest top and jeans if I’m going out, or take it down the beach with me as a cover up. If you’re a dress lover you could wear it tied up over a dress to turn it into a skirt, or worn in the same way over a jumpsuit. See? They ain’t lying when they say that it’s multi-tasking. You’ve just got to find ‘the one‘…

Photos by Emma Croman

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