The White Blouse – Version 2.0
Read any article on wardrobe “must-haves” and the white blouse tops the list every time. It’s no wonder as its use-value is immeasurable. Here’s why. 1) It pairs back to absolutely everything you own. 2) It easily transitions the seasons – especially those blouses with a ¾ or long sleeve. 3) It does double-duty from work to weekend. 4) It is literally a blank canvas and can be styled any number of ways with any number of accessories for any number of occasions. (Do you remember way back when Sharon Stone wore her Gap white blouse to the Oscars? To say she looked amazing is an understatement!)
Still there are some that say the white blouse is a bit too basic to get excited about. To that would offer that this very feeling of utility is part of its charm. Contrary to popular belief, looking smart and chic does not have to be difficult. And fewer pieces worn with greater frequency can be quite liberating! What’s more, this season the white blouse has been given a bit of a makeover with new silhouettes, lengths, cutouts and twists. So if you’ve opted out of the white blouse thinking basic = boring, there’s no better time than now to revisit this wardrobe essential. Check out some of my favorite finds of the season.
A Cut Above.
Updated for the season, what’s not to love about this crisp, white blouse? The cutout detail is not only so on trend for spring, it’s also a wee bit sexy – not to mention seasonally appropriate. (Let’s face it, in the next few months, we’ll welcome any kind of ventilation!) The twist-tie at the waist feminizes the fit, while the length makes it a winner for leggings and wide pants alike. Added bonus: the longer sleeve gives you flexibility to wear it straight into the fall. (Available online at Saks.com)
If ever there was a time to show your shoulders, the time is now. Seen on runways and street corner alike, it’s a style that’s universally appealing and easy-to-wear. (While some women I work with take issue with certain body parts, I have yet to hear anyone say “I hate my shoulders.”) Since this blouse exposes some skin on the top, it pairs well back to the more covered, traditionally difficult-to-style, midi and maxi skirts. In addition the open top leaves plenty of room for accessorizing! (Say hello to a chandelier earring or statement necklace.) And for those of us that don’t like to show our arms, it gives us a seasonally chic, yet appropriately-covered option. (Available online at Nodrstrom)
Tie One On.
Fashion is embracing its feminine side but don’t think you have to look all girly to embrace a touch of this trend. Case in point: this bow tie blouse. It slightly sweet, yes, but with a modern and sophisticated spin. And even though there’s quite a bit of volume on top, this shirt is surprisingly flattering, creating balance to a wider hip. If you tuck this blouse into the waistband of your favorite pencil skirt, gaucho pant or high-waisted trouser, the volume on top with make your waist look smaller by comparison. For some clients, I’ve recommended shortening the sleeves to visually lengthen the arm. Yes, it’s an added expense but the good news is that at $49.99 there’s probably room in the budget. (Available online at H&M.)
Wear these options – or any of your favorite white shirts – dressed up or down, tucked in or out, paired under a jacket or over a tank. The possibilities are endless! But before buying a new BSF (best shirt forever), you should consider the following:
- Read the care instructions – carefully. Some fabrics require more maintenance than others. Make sure the care of the fabric is consistent with the amount of care you are willing and able to give it.
- Don’t overspend. In general the shelf life of a white blouse is shorter than that of other colored blouses, so carefully consider the price. The good news is that because the white blouse is such a must-have item this season, we’re seeing sophisticated cuts, styles and silhouettes across all price points.
- Focus on fit. A white button-down can feel a bit more masculine so make sure that it showcases your shape in the best possible way. While the avant-garde silhouettes this season, make sure to balance any volume on top with a slimmer silhouette on bottom. Conversely, a fitted shirt wants to fit well at the shoulders, honor the sides of your body and be well-fitted at the waist. For more feminine appeal, consider a ¾ or shorter sleeve (or roll up long sleeves) to show a bit more skin.
Truth be told, there are a dizzying array of choices this season which means there’s a shape and style for everyone. For more options, please check out my curated collection. One thing is for sure…This season the basic white blouse is anything but basic.
Carol Davidson is an image consultant and style strategist whose caters to Tomatoes. She can help you make smarter clothing choices and eliminate the frustration that comes from pieces you don’t wear or don’t work with anything else you own. She can help you achieve “wardrobe bliss” with clothes that fit and flatter YOU, making getting dressed each morning, packing for a trip or getting ready for a special occasion, a pleasure! To learn more about her color, wardrobe and shopping services or how you can work with her either virtually or in person, please reach out to her at firstname.lastname@example.org or 646.230.1152. For more style tips n’ shopping picks, please visit Carol on FB: /StyleworksofUnionSquare and follow her on Twitter @CarolDavidson.