It is rightly said that a good white shirt is a man’s greatest sartorial tool. Simple, versatile and the epitome of gentlemanly elegance, this wardrobe mainstay will take you from the office to drinks and back again, if you know how to style it in multiple ways.

Historically, a symbol of wealth and distinction (‘white collar’ doesn’t come from just anywhere) white shirts still hold much of their premium appeal, particularly when worn the right way. But whereas once color alone was enough to separate you from the masses, the ubiquity of the white shirt today means you need to up the ante when it comes to standing out in this classic piece.


White shirt with a pair of dark blue denim

Pretty much the oldest trick in the book, jeans with a white shirt straddle that fine line between sophistication and cool like nothing else. And whether you’ve gone for a pair of distressed skinny legs or you’re wearing a slightly more polished iteration of the look with an indigo denim boot cut, this is a combination guaranteed to work.

As is often the case with simplicity, the devil is in the details. Choosing the right style shirt is of utmost importance and it all comes down to occasion. If you’re simply updating your regular T-shirt and jeans, more casual shirts are a great option. I’d opt for a chambray or a plain poplin – preferably with a button-down collar. This will stop the collar from slouching around your neck and help the shirt sit across your shoulders.

On the flipside, if you’re scaling up your jeans for a nice dinner, opt for a fitted shirt with a dense weave. The starchiness will help elevate the denim and give the illusion of some serious effort – even if you’ve done nothing of the sort.


White Shirt with A Suit

It takes a lot for me to stray from a white shirt when suiting up. It’s the perfect blank canvas for a tie and pocket square and is pretty much universally flattering. For the day to day, nothing beats a dark navy or grey two piece with a white satin finish shirt.

But where to start? Sometimes buying a white business shirt can feel like finding a needle in a haystack, the sheer number of options overwhelming. However, there are a few key parameters that can make the experience a little less daunting (and will impress every salesperson you meet).

First and foremost, know what cut you’re after. Any good outfitter should fit you properly, starting with a measurement of the neck and then moving to the torso. Next, think about what cuff and collar you’d like. My personal preference is a French cuff (the one that requires cuff links) and a semi-cut away collar. Wherever possible, also go for a concealed placard. They’re small details but make a world of difference, particularly if you’re trying to get ahead in the rat race.


White Shirt with Chinos & Linen

A shirt with chinos is just about one of the dullest looks you can describe. And yet, adding a white shirt into the mix can make a world of difference, taking an otherwise workaday ensemble and turning it into something special. Pair a white Oxford with olive colored, tab waisted linen trousers to give your regular kit some serious style punch.

Alternatively, the simplicity of a white shirt offers limitless opportunity in terms of trouser styles and patterns. Why not use this as an opportunity to try out a print like a pinstripe or dabble with something bolder? The gent below makes a strong case for taking an otherwise classic look and pushing it the extra mile with cropped black and white striped chinos.