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Business, but Make It Risky: The 12 Best White Button-Downs In Town

Summary

In June, I announced my discovery of the best-ever white button-down. To this day, it’s still my go-to white shirt (even though I actually accidentally washed it with a tie-dye sock and now it’s more pink-ish, but that’s another story). […]

In June, I announced my discovery of the best-ever white button-down. To this day, it’s still my go-to white shirt (even though I actually accidentally washed it with a tie-dye sock and now it’s more pink-ish, but that’s another story). Since then, a lot of people have come to me with specific white-shirt requests: larger collars, no collar, sleeve details, slim-cut. Lo, I have returned to take a deep dive into the wider world of exemplary white shirts.

I’ve personally had the pleasure of getting to feel and see most of the picks below in person, and I am excited to announce that they are all, indeed, fantastic options. It just depends on what style you’re going for!

These are my favorites—now it’s time for you to choose which one is right for you.

The Japanese Oxford Square Shirt from Everlane has maintained its position as my favorite white shirt. You’re welcome to read my extremely detailed story about it here, but I’ll quickly break it down for you: It’s the perfect weight, so it’s not see-through; it’s structured, not flimsy. It has a boxy cut, which is perfect for leaving untucked or front-tucked (your call). It’s the right shade of white, and it’s very easy to wash, as long as you don’t accidentally throw it in with a tie-dye sock. I’ve convinced many others to get their own, and the feedback has been uniformly positive. I personally went up a size for an oversized look.

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I do not own this shirt from Entireworld, but I sure would like to. I would perhaps style it with boxer shorts and white tube socks à la Tom Cruise, and I’d most definitely wear it with leggings and ballet flats. It’s 100% organic cotton, oversized, soft, and sturdy. Because it’s fairly thick, it’s made to wear unbuttoned, “jacket style,” on days that have just a teeny bit of chill. This is a white shirt story… but I do need to mention that I love the black.

My partner first had this Polo Ralph Lauren oxford in denim, and I found myself wearing it multiple times a week (thanks, Mikey!). I decided to get us (lol) the white version—and it turns out that we wear it just as much as the denim one. It’s a men’s style, so size accordingly. I purchased the medium (so we could share it, obviously)—I usually wear it with the sleeves cuffed and boxy or tied in front. Since it’s as easy to wash as a T-shirt, it’ll probably become an everyday staple for you, too.

There are times when you cannot sub an oversized white shirt (though I do love them) in place of a slim-fit one. If you’re wearing a blazer or trousers, a slim fit is a much better option for sleeve layering or tucking. This 100% cotton poplin shirt by Alex Mill is machine washable and stays crisp with a quick steam or iron. 

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I purchased a large-collared shirt—the one shown above—a couple of years ago and still wear it frequently. It was $35 and vintage from the ’80s. While there are very few contemporary options that are fully white (though I do love this one by Ganni), there are tons of well-priced vintage options. When you dig through the internet, I recommend looking at material: Look for cotton rather than polyester—and ideally the shirt will have cool, old-school details. I love wearing a statement collar shirt under a collarless jacket, with the shirt’s collar folded over. 

There is, of course, the other collar extreme: no collar at all! This cotton one from COS is sleek and modern, with a giant pocket on one side of the chest. I also love the cut: It swings out a bit like the aforementioned Everlane style but is a little dressier, with concealed front buttons. I would most definitely wear this shirt with just the very top button done—and the rest of it loose, flowing out to my sides like a beetle’s wings—over a knit set or jumpsuit.

This shirt from Madewell stands out because of three distinct elements: the symmetrical breast pockets that give it a utility-minded flair, the lightweight fabric, and the triple-split back yoke (a very cool detail). I find this shirt easy to layer under sweaters or layered over tees and turtlenecks, making it extremely versatile.

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I’ve had my eyes on this shirt in the cropped version since its launch. It has snap front buttons and could absolutely double as a lightweight jacket. (It also comes in an oversized version.) It’s technically denim, which also means it’s 100% cotton, and therefore qualifies as the thickest white shirt option here (and the one most coveted by moi). 

I love a tuxedo shirt to specifically wear under a jacket, with a short chain necklace or two. This everyday-casual one is on sale at Lucky Brand for $13.99—or consider this dressier, investment-level option from Wardrobe.NYC. I love the bib detail of a tuxedo shirt—it’s a great way to instantly inject your outfit with a degree of classiness.

Talk about details! This shirt from Angela Brito has a very cool opening at the back that’s cinched with elastic and covered by a flap. Unlike the staple pieces above, this is a statement shirt. It’s also top quality—100% cotton and handmade in Brazil.

Do you have a favorite white shirt I’m missing? Let me know so I can add it to my repertoire!

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