The White Shirt

May 1, 2013

When I consult with clients or speak to groups about building a wardrobe, I always mention my top ten wardrobe essentials. At the top of this list, is a the timeless favourite, a classic white shirt. This piece can be worn to possibly every outing and event you can imagine. It can be paired with skirts, shorts, jeans, trousers, you name it! It is a beautiful layering piece. It can be a cover-up for your bikini! How many other pieces can be both a part of your work wardrobe and your beachwear look?




I call these garments that are able to transcend your daily routine, your investment pieces. These are the clothes you should be spending real money on. Think of your clothing in terms of value and not price. You determine the value when you divide the cost by how many times you are likely to wear it in its lifespan. If that number is small, then you are getting a whole lot of value for your money!


I remember my first real white shirt. I had been in a Fort Lauderdale mall, skimming the racks at Marciano for something that excited me. On a mannequin at the centre of the display was a simple white shirt, but tied in such a stunning way. They took it down to show me that it was just a manipulation and that the shirt was a regular cut. There was just one left and in my size. I guessed that I could buy it and try to tie it all sorts of cool ways like they did. In the dressing room I stumbled upon the price tag; US$149! I was not used to spending that on my basics! I decided not to even try it on. I was shopping with my dad. (The man can dress. Only wears the best and boy does he know what looks good.) He seemed confused when I came out of the room without the shirt on. I explained that I found the price to be ridiculous for a wardrobe basic. He insisted that I try it on. Voila! It fit so well! No gaps in the buttons like I had grown accustomed to seeing. The cotton was richly woven and it felt strong but soft at the same time. I loved it. Feeling almost guilty, I purchased it.


This story takes place about 5 years ago. I have worn this shirt up to last week. I have worn it countless times. It washes beautifully and only becomes more comfortable and more useful to me. The value? Priceless. I have bought other white shirts since then, ones with special details, but all as well made and from breathable fabrics.



This is how I encourage you to shop. If I had decided to buy a lesser quality white shirt for say US$25, 5 years later I probably would have been through 10 like it. These types of garment are literal investments. It definitely means you can't go on shopping sprees and get 50 pieces at a time, but it does mean that when you shop, as infrequently as that may be now, you will be getting clothing that makes you feel and look special for a long time to come.


Below I am wearing a white double sided button up from Meiling's "Borrowed from the Boys" collection. It was honestly some of the best money I ever spent. I had gone to her store at 6 Carlos Street in Woodbrook one day, just for an errand. The collection had just launched and the designer herself, Meiling Esau, tempted me to go inside to explore the pieces I had seen at the show just a few days before. She held up this shirt, that buttoned up the back and the front! She said it reminded her of me, so you know I had to try it on. When your country's major fashion legend tells you that one of their designs has your name on it, you at least try it on! It was a tad big on me, so two skillful ladies walked in and pinned me to perfection. I'm quite petite so everything from the sides to the sleeves had to be altered. Basically they sewed me a whole new shirt so it would fit perfectly.


I have been able to wear this so many ways and so many times! It is from a cotton with a little stretch, so tying it is easy and even allows it to hug my curves when I do so. The very quirky and clever feature that has buttons running down the back always has heads turning. People need to do a double-take! They think I'm wearing my shirt backward!

I was able to create the wide V neckline with the shirt because of the subtle stretch and because I could button down a couple holes at the back. One of your regular shirts might not allow you to take it down like this, but a men's shirt that is oversized for you would!


My Look:

Sunglasses: Handpainted Sanianitos Sunnies from her latest collection on 

Shirt: Meiling

Jeans: Banana Republic

Bracelets: Miu Miu

Acrylic floral print Bow Ring: Forever21

Shoes: JustFab

Belt: I got at the CLD (by Charu Lochan Dass) boutique







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