Having a Moment: Classic White Shirt

I consider the white button down a forgotten classic, something you know you should have in your closet but are reluctant to buy. You think what good can I do with just a plain white button down? Maybe images of you at your first job in an ill-fitting button down flashes through your mind, 23 years old in a full-on lady suit completed by a boring white button down and brown leather belt that could be mistaken for your dad’s. (Yes this happened and no photos were not taken although my mother did offer.) This is not what was intended for this classic piece, I promise you. Classic can so easily turn into boring, but more often it can be a piece that works overtime in your closet. Let’s take a look at some shining examples, shall we? 
how to wear a white button down
source: one / two
Love the mix of lady like and menswear with big full skirts and a tailored white blouse. I only wish I would have shown up to the office in this look. Le sigh. I also like the two different ways to wear the short sleeve button down — tied or tucked. Adorable, either way. 

white button down denim heels
sources, l to r: one / two / three / four
At first glance this collage maybe looks like 4 similar denim stylings, but if you look closer you’ll actually see 4 different types of denim here. Boyfriend jeans with nude accessories at the top left, light wash denim with a pop of red cross body, then below it’s high-waisted denim mixed with simple accessories and finally a pair of unexpected coated denim and printed heels. One shirt, but multiple opportunities here. 
white button down trench jacket
sources: one / two

When I’m in a pinch for a real good outfit, I typically go towards simple layers. Layering pieces just make an outfit feel more thought out even though sometimes it’s the complete opposite for me — I’m just grabbing things as I run out the door and hope they work. When you layer classic pieces (like on Julia and Kat, above) it’s hard to miss the target of looking pulled together. A good classic button down can also go from season to season. 
white shirt dress white button down
sources: one / two
One of the best cases I can make for the classic white shirt is the ability to change it with the addition or subtraction of accessories. Take each of these looks, for example, without the sunglasses, the clutch or the big hat, necklace, worn-in crossbody (alright and the perfectly messy boho hair) you would literally just have a white shirt. It’s a blank canvas for whatever look you are going for and it’s having it’s moment in the sun. 
Do you have this staple in your closet yet or do you have one you’ve invested in and love to live in? This Madewell one has been my staple from last fall. I’m almost brave enough to wear it without pants like Leandra above (that’s a joke. I’ve already worn it without pants.)
< white button-down round up from around the web > 

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45 Notes

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  1. Such a pretty round-up of looks using one item!

    Liz @ http://www.shoppingmycloset.com

    06.10.14 · Reply
  2. I just invested, well maybe testing one is a better way to say it since it was only $35. But yes it took sometime to find one that didn't remind me of my Catholic school days.
    xo Adri
    http://www.adrilately.blogspot.com

    06.10.14 · Reply
  3. Autumn says:

    Wow. This post really opened my eyes and now I wish I didn't give my white button down away. I really did think that white button downs were a useless classic. Thanks Kendi!!!
    Autumn Renee

    06.10.14 · Reply
  4. Allyn says:

    I need to find a shirt like that. I used to have a great one from Target with some fun detailing, but then I washed and dried it (oops), and… it definitely took on more of a Hooters look. Which is especially impressive for a pretty flat chested girl.
    I always have a hard time finding ones that aren't completely see through because sometimes I just don't want to have to wear a camisole over my bra.
    It's hard being a girl.

    06.10.14 · Reply
  5. I just stole my bf's, indefinitely. it was a bit too small for him, and therefore slightly over-sized but perfect for me! I'm determined to wear it once a week. thanks for all the ideas!!

    β™₯ perfectly Priya

    06.10.14 · Reply
  6. I love love love this post! White shirts are so cool and your pics are inspiring, especially the first one.

    x Nina

    PS. Amazing Luisaviaroma.com $500 Gift Card Giveaway

    06.10.14 · Reply
  7. Sarah says:

    You have been hitting it out of the park with your posts lately, Kendi! Loving this roundup. Now I need to get myself a classic white button-down…

    06.10.14 · Reply
  8. Sallykawai says:

    I have a few white shirts, some with beading detail and some clean cuts. It's my go to item when I feel lazy and in a rush, because it goes with everything πŸ™‚

    http://www.mylattedays.com

    06.10.14 · Reply
  9. I have quite many white shirts. They are perfect for everything – when you want to be classy, or casual, or just throw on an oversized one and look effortless and chic. I especially like the dress shirts at the moment πŸ™‚ Very inspirational post!
    http://www.maggiecallife.com

    06.10.14 · Reply
  10. H says:

    Brooks Brothers makes a great button down – not at all older society lady as most of their clothes read. It has the perfect amount of stretch and is a bit fitted, plus you can wash and dry and wear (without ironing!).

    06.10.14 · Reply
  11. Kendi Lea says:

    That's a great suggestion! I never think to look there, but I have a friend who also swears by their tops. Here is the link to one I found: http://bit.ly/1oR8R1R

    06.10.14 · Reply
  12. nikki says:

    i love this!! i'm definitely in need of a good white button down for work this summer! thanks for the round-up!

    xxoo,
    nikki

    http://www.dreaminneon.blogspot.com

    06.10.14 · Reply
  13. Geraldine says:

    Love ALL of the outfits!!!

    xx,

    G
    http://www.prince-and-sullivan.com

    06.10.14 · Reply
  14. Stessy Mezeu says:

    What a perfect piece for summer -both simple and chic!

    06.10.14 · Reply
  15. I love those outfits, especially the last one!

    06.10.14 · Reply
  16. Royal Wang says:

    This is so inspritional ,so into those style

    http://www.fashionculturediary.blogspot.it/

    06.10.14 · Reply
  17. Ila says:

    I love the first two outfits with the white shirt and the midi skirt, so cute πŸ™‚

    Ila x

    http://cleanserblog.blogspot.co.uk/

    06.10.14 · Reply
  18. Love all these outfits! There isn't one I wouldn't wear.

    http://www.eyelikefashion.com

    06.10.14 · Reply
  19. Chic & classy. Can't go wrong with white. :] // itsCarmen.com ☼

    06.10.14 · Reply
  20. Dearest Darling says:

    At least half of these are on my inspiration Pinboard, lol. What can I say, I'm a sucker for the classics!

    -Lindsay from Dearest Darling

    06.10.14 · Reply
  21. Sylv says:

    Love this!! Now I want to buy a slew of white button downs!!

    06.10.14 · Reply
  22. rhiannon says:

    LOVE it! so many gorgeous ways to style.

    http://modernsuburbanites.blogspot.com/2014/06/through-lens.html

    06.10.14 · Reply
  23. I love white button ups but need a new one…

    06.10.14 · Reply
  24. Rebecca says:

    Thanks for reminding me how much I need a white button up!

    06.10.14 · Reply
  25. suziew says:

    You're so right, Kendi. I need to bust out my button down. I have a fresh new one purchased in August from J. Crew, and it STILL has the tags on it! The horror. But it is a go-to, for reals. I also feel this way about white ribbed tanks. I am a white tank whore. LOL.

    06.10.14 · Reply
  26. Francisca says:

    Totally!! Funny you should mention that, seeing as I'm obsessed with simplicity lately, especially a white shirt with simple jeans. Perfection!

    xxoo
    ~ franciscamay.blogspot.com

    06.10.14 · Reply
  27. Chantele says:

    I need more white shirts!!

    Two Hearts One Roof

    06.11.14 · Reply
  28. Nothing I love more than a good white shirt!

    Xo
    Peyton

    perfectlytayloredblog.com

    06.11.14 · Reply
  29. Reina says:

    Love me a great classic! It's replaced my chambray button down for the summer.

    Reina
    http://www.adornedwithblessings.com

    06.11.14 · Reply
  30. Yes I have to agree that nothing is as classic as a nice white shirt, and yes everytime I think of a white shirt it reminds me of what I wore on the first day of work at my last job!

    Cheresa
    http://www.misshotcouture.blogspot.com

    06.11.14 · Reply
  31. Greta Gale says:

    I adore white button-down shirts too – I love stealing my boyfriends for a really relaxed look!

    Love, Greta

    flourish-blog.blogspot.com

    06.11.14 · Reply
  32. Miss J. says:

    Perfect inspo!

    XO

    Jeanne

    http://fashionmusingsdiary.blogspot.fr

    06.11.14 · Reply
  33. Sasa Zoe says:

    White shirt! Must-haves:)

    http://www.shallwesasa.com

    06.11.14 · Reply
  34. Kat Tanita says:

    Thanks for including me in this roundup!! xx

    06.11.14 · Reply
  35. Agi says:

    You can never go wrong with a white button shirt!!!!

    Agi:)

    vodkainfusedlemonade.com

    06.11.14 · Reply
  36. Kendi Lea says:

    Mine, too. Mine, too. I think it's because these styles seem so do-able and approachable! It's nice to pin styles you can actually wear πŸ˜‰

    06.11.14 · Reply
  37. Tara CW44 says:

    Pretty sure I've styled my white button every way you mentioned, minus the no-pants look, I'm not brave enough for that. Love this post! <3

    -Tara
    http://threewishesstyle.com/

    06.11.14 · Reply
  38. Liz says:

    i love these combinations, they'll never go out of style!

    xo, Liz
    http://oyouclassy.com
    http://oyouclassy.com

    06.11.14 · Reply
  39. Elizabeth Hawn says:

    love a classic white shirt!

    http://www.atlantastateofmind.blogspot.com

    06.11.14 · Reply
  40. rhn says:

    I've bought two in the last six months, but clearly have not been wearing them to their full potential.

    06.12.14 · Reply
  41. Erin says:

    Everything about this post is wonderful. Simplicity always wins in my book!

    06.12.14 · Reply
  42. SO in love with the shirt meets skirt looks! So classic. So lovely.

    xx Katie
    lovely letters

    06.13.14 · Reply
  43. Accademia di Moda says:

    We completely agree! The classic white button-down is an absolute essential in every girls arsenal! It's so easy to pair with denim, trousers or a great skirt! Thanks for sharing!

    06.13.14 · Reply
  44. Tracey O'Dowd says:

    I found my perfect white button down at Goodwill…and originally from American Eagle (I NEVER shop there) but it fit like a glove for $3. Who would've guessed.

    06.15.14 · Reply
  45. White shirt is no longer a boring classic item! It can be so interesting and refreshing now!

    http://fashionpeekaboo.com

    06.15.14 · Reply