Style + Item of the Week

Item of the Week: A Simple White Button Up

The classic white shirt is a staple piece for any woman.  It can be worn for almost any occasion, like with a ball gown skirt or over a swimsuit.  But finding the right one can be tricky.

If your style is casual, you can pair it with distressed denim and killer loafers.  If your style is contemporary, how about some culottes and hoop earrings.  If your style tilts toward corporate, a pencil skirt and a chunky necklace.  Whatever your style, you can make a white shirt work for you.

My favorite white shirts come from Banana Republic.  Their Riley Fit shirt ($68) has a classic, slightly tailored fit.  If you prefer something more relaxed in a tunic length, try this Parker Fit tunic ($78).  Many of their styles also come in petite and tall sizes.  For plus-size ladies, I’ve heard good things about the Foxcroft non-iron shirts at Nordstrom ($108).

To get the perfect fit for you, I recommend sizing up and tailoring down.  Is it more work?  Yes.  Is it worth the $30-$40 and extra week of your time?  Oh my gosh, yes.

I am usually a size 2-4 on top depending on the brand.  I buy size 6 or sometimes 8 button up shirts so that they can be taken in to fit perfectly.  This process prevents gaping at the buttons, bunching under the sleeves, and a host of other issues.  It feels like the shirt was made for me, because it basically was.

If you have serious problems with gaping at the bust, several brands now make shirts designed to fix the issue.  M&S makes fuller bust shirts with more room in the chest and a different button design.  And there’s always “The Shirt” by Rochelle Behrens that features a double placket to keep gaps from happening.

What’s your favorite white shirt or your favorite way to wear it?

[featured image from Vogue magazine 1988]



  1. thb says:

    It’s a go to for everything and good choice on the BR Riley. It fits great and wears even better.

    August 7, 2017/Reply
  2. Sadie says:

    My go-to is the Perfect Shirt from Ann Taylor. I have 2 or 3 white ones so I always have a clean one to wear. No matter how much color I have in my closet, a crisp white shirt looks good with everything!

    August 7, 2017/Reply
  3. Valerie says:

    Love the site redesign and the new content! Looking forward to reading more.

    August 7, 2017/Reply
  4. Vanna says:

    I like the idea of having shirts taken in to fit perfectly. I haven’t had any luck with tailors in the D.C. area but would LOVE recommendations.

    August 7, 2017/Reply
    • Belle says:

      I used to go to Cheryl Lofton on T Street. She tailored probably 80 pieces for me, I was unhappy with one of them. That’s a pretty good ratio.

      August 7, 2017/Reply
  5. Monica T says:

    I tailor all of my button ups and I would say get the correct size for your largest measurement rather than sizing up. I have broad shoulders, but if I go too big in the shoulders then no amount of tailoring makes it look right. It always looks kind of blousy around my upper back since that’s a tough place to narrow.

    August 7, 2017/Reply
  6. aLYSSA says:

    To prevent gapping, I’ve also had the placket stitched closed. Make sure you can get the shirt over your head first! A good seamstress can match the stitches in the placket.

    August 7, 2017/Reply
  7. CE says:

    34DDD and I miss as the easy yet professional look of button up shirts (which I wore pre-kids, 10 lbs ago and 2 cup sizes ago). Anyplace that I can buy a white button up by cup size?

    August 7, 2017/Reply
  8. IshT says:

    I have repeatedly bought both – the banana shirt featured here and the Ann Taylor Perfect shirt. The BR shirt has a look and feel thats more expensive than the AT shirt. Can be worn to work for the crisp office look and even ith jeans or black pants in the evening. Very chic.

    August 8, 2017/Reply
  9. Jennie says:

    Absolutely love the new design!

    More corporate, but I swear by Brooks Brothers Non-Iron shirts for &98. You can machine wash, roll and pack in a suitcase and they hardly wrinkle at all. Sometimes you can find them on sale or in their outlet stores and they come in Petite sizes. They are so easy to throw on in the morning with a pencil skirt, pants or under a dress. I have a few different colors, but my white one gets the most wear.

    August 8, 2017/Reply
  10. J says:

    I’ve had good luck with the Portofino shirts at Express. Cursed with the perennial opacity (or lack thereof) problem, the white one still makes up for it in my book with its sleeves that are long enough for a 5’10” frame, washable-ness, and wrinkle-resistance. Solid quality, especially for the price.

    August 8, 2017/Reply
  11. Anne says:

    Just received the BR Parker fit tunic — think I like even more than my staple AT Perfect Shirt. The fabric is a bit more substantial and the hem is more suited to wearing it as a tunic.

    August 11, 2017/Reply
    • Belle says:


      August 11, 2017/Reply
  12. Carrie says:

    Every year at Brooks Brothers I buy two non-iron white shirts in the slim fit — one in a smaller fit size for under sweaters/dresses, one a bit larger, take them to the tailor and have them sew up the center. That’s right. about an inch from the bottom for that natural flair and then all the way up to leave an opening for my head. No gaping whatsover at the bust or the belly. Game changer. I wear them to death.

    August 18, 2017/Reply