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How to wear a white shirt and not look basic

— by Alyson Walsh

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Linda Evangelista photo: Peter Lindbergh for Vogue Italia

I’ve never been able to get excited about the white shirt. It was part of my school uniform and frankly looked best after the class had signed their names all over it, on the last day of term. Remember that? Then as a fashion editor, the white shirt became one of the items ‘every woman should own’, and I didn’t. To me, the Lovely Blue Shirt with its complexion-enhancing properties has always had the edge. But, recently, I’ve changed my tune. First step: blue and white stripes for summer (courtesy of Banana Republic’s Dillon stripe shirt, HERE) and then the transition to plain white is a doddle.

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Photo: Peter Lindbergh

I’ve been wearing Hobbs’ Maddie shirt (it’s a bit like a men’s dress shirt with a pique bib at the front, available HERE) with my old denim jacket and cut-off jeans. Though I do like the ain’t-broke-don’t-fix-it appeal of a white shirt and Levi’s 501s.

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On the Ageless Style tour, I opted for the Courtroom Nigella vibe and wore the white shirt under a smart black coat/dress. Hobbs also has a couple of longer-line styles (available HERE), while Jaeger has a neat tunic style with a stepped hem (available HERE) and J.Crew’s Thomas Mason collection is ace.

Here’s how to wear a white shirt and not look basic (Tip: under a denim jacket so there’s still a lovely blue element):

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Accessorize like Alice Carey. Photo: Ari Seth Cohen

Patti Smith 1975 Robert Mapplethorpe 1946-1989 ARTIST ROOMS  Acquired jointly with the National Galleries of Scotland through The d'Offay Donation with assistance from the National Heritage Memorial Fund and the Art Fund 2008 http://www.tate.org.uk/art/work/AR00185

Make like Patti Smith and add a black tie or bow

How do you wear a white shirt?

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I’ve never been able to get excited about the white shirt. It was part of my school uniform and frankly looked best after the class had signed their names all over it, on the last day of term.