4 Essential Ways to Wear a White Shirt


Struggling to wear a white shirt the right way? Here at Idle, we’ve done a bit of research to bring you this guide on four essential ways to wear a white shirt. So you’ll never have to struggle again.

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A white shirt is the ultimate classic to-go clothing piece for any season or occasion. Having been around for quite some time now, it’s a timeless wardrobe staple that deserves a place in every man’s arsenal and, safe to say, will never go out of style. If you are a man with a white shirt in his wardrobe, you are already half way there to nailing this effortless, all season style.

Date night? Match a white button up shirt with a neat pair of jeans, a stylish pair of boots and a black blazer. Looking to channel your inner rocker? Try James Dean’s classic look, with a plain white T-shirt, faded jeans, Dr Marten’s and a black biker jacket. The men’s white shirt is truly diverse, and is a great investment for the everyday man. Wondering how to get the most out of yours? Continue reading and we’ll outline four essential ways to style the humble white shirt.

How To Wear a White Shirt

Thanks to its versatile style, range of cuts, buttons and collars, the white shirt can be worn to any event or for any occasion. Here are the four essential ways to wear this shirt…

The Classic

Keep things simple and easy by teaming a white Oxford shirt with a black or grey tie and black suit trousers. This gives you a formal look without having to wear a full on suit. If you’re going for more of a smart casual look, you can roll up the sleeves and take off the tie. Knowing how to wear an Oxford shirt is something every business man should know so you can go from work to play with ease. Keep it simple and wear minimal accessories, for example a white shirt with cuff links, making the classic look ideal for both the summer and winter months.

The Casual Look

A great smart casual option, all you’ll need is a pair of quality jeans, a white short sleeve shirt (or casual long sleeves and rolled up) and a brown leather belt. Adding a pair of aviator sunglasses and a brown bag will complete the look. If you’re looking for the more exciting, bad boy look that women swoon over, you can always add a black leather jacket and work the Danny Zuko look.

A Formal White Shirt And Jeans

Smart Summer

When black tie attire and a white dress shirt is a little too much, and a casual white shirt with jeans ensemble may not make the cut, mix some smart trousers and a white shirt and your smart summer look is nailed. If you want to make a bold statement, choose some grey patterned trousers. Checks and pin stripes work well as they still keep the look fairly tailored. The white shirt will calm the trousers down and if paired with a pair of white trainers, the look is the perfect balance of smart casual.

Casual Summer

This look is perfect for those well-deserved summer holidays on the beach or a summer BBQ with mates. Match a white short sleeve shirt buttoned up to the top with a pair of dark navy shorts. Add a brown belt and matching brown boat shoes or flip-flops to finish this laid back look. If you feel like you want to mix up the white shirt, please don’t wear a white shirt with black buttons – instead add a watch or bracelet and a pair of sunglasses. Just remember to always keep the white shirt completely white as it keeps the summery feel to the outfit.

How A White Shirt Should Fit

Sometimes it’s challenging to find a shirt that fits you perfectly. You don’t want it too snug, but there’s also no worse look than an oversized, baggy shirt. The buttons should not bulge at your chest (also, you should give more than 3-4” of fabric, when the shirt is pulled away lightly from the body) and the collar should enable you to slide two fingers around it when closed.

The shoulder seam should meet at the corner of your shoulder bone and the armholes should be high enough without causing any restricted motion or movement. The sleeves should not be too tight or too billowy, but it should allow comfortable movement and should also not end where your palm meets your wrist, but preferably about 1” before your wrist bone.

white shirt black dickies converse-min
A white shirt can be worn casually with a pair of Dickies chinos

History of The White Shirt

The white shirt is one of the oldest garments worn by gentlemen. Since before the Middle Ages, the white shirt existed as a piece of clothing, but only in the form of underwear or as a night gown. These lighter options didn’t have a collar or cuffs, but rather a hem that could be tightened or buttoned. This garment was usually made out of silk or linen in the olden days, but from the 1950’s, the nylon shirt was introduced.

By the time the 1800’s rolled around, the shirt was not worn as underwear anymore. The collar grew excessively and was decorated with embroidery and lace, with a reference to Robin Hood or even Shakespeare and his fellow men.

It was only at the end of WWI that the modern shirt with buttons and all become popular, as the first buttoned shirt was certified by Brown Davies & Co in 1871. During WWII and the 1910s, Navy men wore the cotton jersey crewneck which was also a descendant from men’s undergarments.

In the 1930’s, the fixed collar was made anew, and has stayed with every man since then. In the 1950’s, the daring short sleeve shirt became famous and icons such as James Dean tested the social limits with his bold rock n’ roll look. The chest pocket was introduced in the 1960’s as the result of the vest under the suit jacket becoming more uncommon.

Today, the style and design variations of the modern white shirt are endless. The collar comes in a lot of different cuts and sizes and the fabric comes in many qualities and constructions.

4 Essential Ways to Wear a White Shirt

  • Classic: Team a buttoned white shirt with a black or grey tie, black suit trousers.
  • Casual: Mix blue jeans, white short sleeve shirt and a brown leather belt.
  • Smart Summer: Mix an off white evening suit with a white shirt, grey tie, and a brown belt.
  • Casual Summer: Match a white short sleeve shirt with navy shorts. Add a brown belt and brown boat shoe.
mens white shirt jeans desert boots sunglasses
Styling a white shirt is fairly simple

On That Note

Starting as only an undergarment and nightgown, the white shirt has revolutionised itself to become one of the most famous, timeless and perfect pieces of clothing known to man. Versatile in its various cuts, shapes and styles, it’s a ideal piece of clothing to own as it suits every style and body type. There are so many reasons to own more than one white shirt, after all, it wouldn’t have lasted for centuries otherwise.


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