If someone were to ask me which five pieces of clothing in my closet I would choose to wear for the rest of my life, a white button-down shirt would be at the very top of my list.
“What?” you might say. “Like the boring old button-down I’m stuck wearing every day with my suit pants?” Yes, exactly. Contrary to popular belief, a white button-down is not a dull inevitability in your wardrobe, but rather a classic that will pull together many outfits and save you time and time again when you have no clue what to wear.
Not sure how to liven up your button-down? Read on for some fresh ideas for how to keep this staple in your wardrobe rotation without getting bored.
1. Under a Sleeveless Dress
Take that go-to sleeveless dress and pop a silk button-down under it to give it a whole new silhouette for work. Choosing silk over cotton or synthetic material in this case is key, as it’s much lighter and won’t add any unflattering bulk to your figure. Come fall, try putting on an edgy leather jacket for the commute, or try a bomber jacket to add a little more fun to this somewhat conservative combination.
2. Under a Sweatshirt
Bet you didn’t think you could pull off your favorite graphic sweatshirt at work! But by pairing it with that white button-down and a sleek pencil skirt (or even a dress), you’ve got an interesting new outfit. The collar peeking out of the sweatshirt adds a level of surprise, and the sleek skirt or dress juxtaposed with the slouchy sweatshirt makes this outfit work-appropriate and fashion-forward all at once.
3. With a Fancy Skirt
One way to dress down an otherwise too-formal-for-work skirt is to wear it with your white button-down. I’m loving metallic pencil skirts this season, but you can also try something that has a little more sparkle (like sequins) if you’re feeling brave. Make sure you choose a lighter cotton material (silk would be a little too formal for this look), and tuck your shirt in to give yourself a waistline. A higher-waisted skirt works best to really accentuate your curves.
4. In a Monochrome Ensemble
Just because it’s fall doesn’t mean you can’t wear white! As far as I’m concerned, white jeans are in season year-round, so pair them with your white button-down and a cream blazer for an almost-monotone effect that breaks up starkness of the brighter whites. You’ll look fresh and modern and, if you leave your shirt untucked, add a little casual flair to an otherwise structured look.
5. With Patches
If you have an oversized white button-down lying around that you don’t know what to do with, find some vintage patches at a flea market or secondhand store and adhere them in a cluster to the front of your shirt. The more you add, the bigger a statement you’ll make! Then, wear your shirt open with black skinny pants and a black top—it will look like a modern twist on a traditional army jacket. Tip: Try a shirt in a thicker, heavier cotton weave so it holds its structure and looks more like jacket than a flowy white top.