The Most Flattering White Shirts

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Lara Stone by Angelo Pennetta for T Magazine Fall 2011
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Christy Turlington
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James Dean, Rebel Without A Cause
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Tyra Banks, 1997
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Lauren Hutton
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Marlon Brando, Streetcar Named Desire
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Johnny Depp and Kate Moss
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Emily DiDonato by Lachlan Bailey for Vogue Paris September 2013
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Leonardo DiCaprio
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Gisele Bundchen by Peter Lindbergh for Harper's Bazaar 2009
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James Perse Cotton T-Shirt
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T by Alexander Wang Classic Jersey Racer-Back Tank
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Brooks Brothers Regular Fit Dress Shirt
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Velvet Vintage Shrunken Sweatshirt
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J.Crew Carrie Cami

Not all fashion has to be cutting edge. Sure, we fantasize over a closet full of pink Stella coat dresses and pleated Dior skirts with hip cutouts, but we need those basic wardrobe staples. Today, I’m talking the white shirt. It’s the perfect “I hate everything in my closet,” “all my clothes are making me look fat,” “why have I not bought anything since college,” go-to fix. It's easy. It's dependable. It's available in a variety of cuts and fabrics to cater to each and every one of your specific needs. From a trip to the bodega or a day of meetings at the office, your white shirt has your back (pun semi-intended). But which of the billion variations should you choose? My picks below:

1. James Perse Cotton T-Shirt: This cotton top is universally flattering and is the perfect outfit addition when you start looking like you're trying too hard. Just add a push-up bra to take advantage of the deep scoop neck, and you’ll find yourself the female equivalent of a Rebel Without a Cause.

2. T by Alexander Wang Classic Jersey Racer-Back Tank: He may be the designer of a major French fashion label, but Mr. Wang knows his way around a good t-shirt. The loose fit, low-slung arm holes, and longer 'boy' cut make this the best, “Oh, this old thing? I just grabbed it from the floor of my boyfriend’s place,” type of tank—because, you know, all men wear racerback tanks.

3. Brooks Brothers Regular Fit Dress Shirt: Everyone should have a proper crisp white button-down in their closets. It's not only for ‘80s hearththrobs in tighty-whitey dance montages and J.P. Morgan summer interns—a simple, clean dress shirt is also the easiest way to look put-together without much effort. Go all-American and pair it with jeans, or add a bit of edge and wear it with leather (skirts, pants, shorts, chaps, whatever).

4. Velvet Vintage Shrunken Sweatshirt: Crop tops are the best. They expose your body where us ladies are naturally the narrowest, and they pair well with high-waisted pants or skirts, which is an art form in and of itself. This long-sleeve, roomier jumper plays well against an exposed midriff, leaving you with just a hint of sexiness.

5. J.Crew Carrie Cami: Try introducing a more femme option to your white shirt game. This silk top works just as well under a blazer as it does with a pair of black jeans, as a going-out top. Because going-out tops are back.

—Elizabeth Brockway

Let’s Talk About It! JOIN IN
  • Kate

    I'm actually really disappointed that the white t-shirt link isn't the one in the green picture - because I'm looking for THAT t-shirt. 80% of women* will probably tell you that they hate their upper arms so why is nearly every woman's t-shirt cut with those stupid cap sleeves that look good on nobody except people with biceps as big around as my wrists?

    Anyway. Still seeking the most flattering white t-shirt - which is one with SHORT sleeves (not ballet, not elbow, not 3/4) that COVER MY BICEP.

    *unscientific estimate, unscientifically raised to 90% among women over 35

    • http://taliashulze.com/ Talia

      Doublju tees are nice and not too expensive at all, I'm not a fan of cap sleeves either, I feel like these are fitted and nice enough to wear to the office though: http://www.amazon.com/Doublju-Basic-Knit-T-shirt-Sleeve/dp/B00B14MZJS

    • http://www.thefashioninformer.com/ The Fashion Informer

      Kate, try Lilla P. She makes a ton of tees with elbow-length short sleeves or 3/4 sleeves. http://www.lillap.com/Shop/34-Sleeves

    • Eliza

      Thank you, words can't even express how much I detest cap sleeves...and I like my arms! They just have this horrendous effect--I buy men's tees for this exact reason.

    • malteseproverb

      ugh, fashion retailers please: LISTEN TO THIS LADY!!

      Also, most people responding to you are linking to legit 3/4 sleeve shirts which just shows the lack of this ideal Lara Stone white tee in the market. Also also, I want that cropped velvet sweatshirt but for $15.

    • Stella

      According to picture two in this article, its from the GAP.

      http://tmagazine.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/09/23/little-dutch-girl/?_php=true&_type=blogs&_r=0

      • ITGElizabeth

        I've bought a few men's undershirts from GAP-- three to a pack for something like $20 and they cover my arm a bit more than the traditional T. I even cut a few to use as crop tops. I love GAP (#normcore)

    • Lilli

      Not sure if you have ever heard of Bassike. It's an Australian brand and I swear to Ryan Gosling that they make THE best cotton tees in every way, shape and form!

    • Kate Flint
    • Katy

      I just picked up a couple of H&M ts that have sleeves that are a bit longer! Super cheap and they have a long torso!

    • JR

      YES! Women's shirts not only have those sleeves that are only flattering on model types, but they are nipped at the waist. They are also often made with polyester (sweat inducing!) Men's T shirts are always good, you just have to find the right brand, and don't shy away from checking out Walmart or Target.

    • kim11
  • Fashion Follows Her

    The perfect white shirt is so tricky... why are they always see through too!!

  • http://beautytimebreak.blogspot.com The Beauty Break

    yes, yes and yes! I live in white shirts but can never seem to find the perfect one!

    The Beauty Break

  • KIRSTEN

    PENCEY STANDARD!!!

  • graceyu

    I swear by Everlane v-necks. They're my favorite!

  • hclsaltaicd

    I love the classic brooks brothers shirts! And my favorite white tee is from j crew. For some reasons, white tees never last longer than six months until they have holes, so I'm not willing to spend a fortune on them.

    • ITGElizabeth

      There are always those holes right around the top of your jeans-- it's so annoying! I try to keep one or two "nicer" white Ts just in case I want to pair one with a slightly fancier skirt or pants, but I agree, for the most part, it's about 6 months before my Ts become gym wear.

      • hclsaltaicd

        Haha exactly! I might invest in a James Perse t shirt at some point, they do have the perfect cut!

    • 2ManyKinks2ManyKoils

      I LOVE the Brooks Brothers Shirts, too! Especially the white French cuff shirts! Just purchased one today! :)

  • Kate

    Kate,
    Emily of cupcakes and cashmere did a whole comparison of white tees. It was great! Check it out. I agree 100% about the upper arm comment.

PRODUCTS MENTIONED

james perse
James Perse Cotton T-Shirt
T by Alexander Wang
T by Alexander Wang Classic Jersey Racer-Back Tank
Brooks Brothers
Brooks Brothers Regular Fit Dress Shirt
Velvet
Velvet Vintage Shrunken Sweatshirt
J.Crew
J.Crew Carrie Cami
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