today, we’re going back to our roots. this blog was built on classic style. a trusted look that is timeless and traditional but with flair. investing in clothing and accessories that you can mix and match is key to achieving classic style. a list of favorites includes a trenchcoat, little black dress, turtleneck, and a white button-up. but today, it’s all about the classic white shirt styled 5 ways because a white shirt works 365 days a year.
a classic white shirt is always office-appropriate and perfect for a nine-to-five look. have you ever wondered how this iconic classic earned the nickname white-collar in reference to social class? it all started in the early nineteenth century or what is commonly called the Victorian Era. way back then, the working class could not afford to have their clothes laundered as often as the upper class. it was a saturday chore for most, and we all know a white shirt needs frequent washing to keep it in pristine condition. but a blue collared shirt more readily hides stains. these social conditions led to a distinction between the upper class and working class-based solely on their apparel. the terms white collar and blue collar were born.
by the end of the nineteenth century, the white dress shirt with its stiff collar and fitted shape began to evolve and became more affordable. men were seen everywhere from church to the promenade sporting a classic white shirt. early in the twentieth century, the Prince of Wales(a fashion icon) exchanged white shirts in favor of fluid colored ones. now the simple white shirt was used less to distinguish class and began to take on a symbol of masculinity, power, and respectability. businesses like IBM mandated a dress code for their employees and utilized white shirts. but with better manufacturing techniques, the stiff collar was replaced with a relaxed fit, and the fit began to change yet again.
it wasn’t long before movie stars and musicians began to interpret the white shirt. anyone remember the Beatles wearing a black suit, white button-down, and tie? but how, exactly, did women begin to incorporate this classic into their wardrobe? again, we have coco chanel to thank when she combined an iconic menswear staple with one of her jersey suits. the difference this time was the collar was unbuttoned. the white shirt was now a fashion statement for women. in the fifties, screen actresses like Audrey Hepburn, Grace Kelly, and Marilyn Monroe repurposed the classic white shirt, wearing their own versions and catapulting a simple button-down into an iconic classic.
pants | shirt | shoes | similar handbag | similar necklace
denim skirt | shirt | similar cardigan | belt | similar shoes | necklace
shorts | shirt | blazer | similar shoes
denim | shirt | similar jacket | similar scarf | handbag | belt | shoes
similar pants | shirt | similar vest | similar blazer | shoes
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is the Founder and CEO of Style at a Certain Age. She writes Sundays-Fridays on all topics ranging from fashion, health, wellness, home design and more.
She’s 63, 5’8, and size 8.
Great looks, Beth. When I was young, my favorite way to dress was with a white shirt, blue jeans, red belt, small red scarf tied to the side of my neck and black flats. Funny how we Remember those things. I think it would still look good today.
outfits always have a way of conjuring memories!
Love reading the story of the classic white shirt. I love learning something new, or being reminded of something once again after a long time. Thank you! Enjoyed reading Blog Sister Eve’s comment of a yesteryear look with the classic white shirt. Lastly, want to share that the Pumpkin Spice Cake from Friday’s post was a big hit in SS class this morning!~
i’m always fascinated how clothes came into being especially iconic pieces like the white button up. glad to hear
you enjoyed reading the post!
Love all the black & white outfits. So classy and so comfortable looking. Sharp, sharp sharp. 🥰🥰
thanks, lorraine! black and white is a timeless and classic color combo that never gets old.
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