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A white button-down shirt is a wardrobe staple—an item that’s both versatile and timeless. Like a great pair of jeans, a classic sneaker, or a neutral T-shirt, a white button-down is easy to mix and match with other items and pulls your look together in a snap.
Meet the Expert
Paired with virtually any bottom and shoes, it can make any outfit, be it for the office, running errands, or a night out, feel cohesive and polished. For the days you can’t manage to balance a look, consider one of these trusty white shirts, as well as advice on exactly how to wear (and care for) them by celebrity stylist Mickey Freeman and stylist and former Global Style Director for Yoox NET-A-PORTER Group, Emily Barnes.
Read on for the best white shirts for women.
Best Overall: Anine Bing Mika Shirt
Material: 100% cotton | Size Range: XXS-XL | Care: Dry clean only
You can never have too many white shirts, as a good basic is always a good thing, but if we were to just choose one to cover all of our bases, we’d pick Anine Bing’s Mika shirt. The crisp white shirt has a higher front length and longer backside, an oversized fit that’s just right, and thick cotton material to keep its tailored structure. Perhaps these are just a few reasons why many reviewers have coined it “the perfect white shirt.”
Best Classic: Kule The Hutton Oversized Shirt
Material: 100% cotton | Size Range: XS-XL | Care: Machine wash
Search and find Lauren Hutton on the cover of American Vogue in 1973, and tell us you’re not left wanting to wear a breezy white button-down shirt. This 100-percent cotton version by Kule was inspired by that exact feeling and can be easily dressed up or down, and features the iconic Kule red-and-blue brand taping on the side seam.
Best Value: Madewell Shrunken Button-Down Oxford Shirt
Material: Cotton | Size Range: XXS-4X | Care: Machine wash
We can always rely on Madewell for a great value, and this one rivals more expensive, designer versions in terms of shape, which is slightly oversized. Because it’s somewhat sheer, we wouldn’t recommend it for the office on its own. Rather, we love it as a layering piece (wear in the fall under a statement sweater) or on its own (for running errands or attending a dinner with friends).
Best Designer: Valentino Camicia Oversize Button-Down Cotton Shirt
Material: Cotton | Size Range: 36-48 IT | Care: Dry clean only
If you’re looking for a well-tailored style by a classic designer, we’d suggest Valentino’s Camicia shirt—one that “brings sublime comfort and head-turning style,” according to Freeman. It’s one of his top picks of white shirts because it’s “the perfect balance of feminine and masculine.” We agree. Pair this with some tailored slacks and loafers, and the confidence will follow.
Best Cropped: Alexander Wang Twist-Front Cropped Shirt
Material: 96% cotton, 4% elastane | Size Range: 0-10 | Care: Dry clean only
Here’s a cropped style, but with a twist. This cotton-blend poplin shirt by Alexander Wang is designed with a unique twist-front and row of buttons that allows wearers to make adjustments based on their shape. The ruched cuffs create an illusion of rolled-up sleeves, which we love because, in reality, it allows for less fuss. To complete the look, style it with high-waisted jeans or trousers.
Best Fitted: Mango Essential Cotton-Blend Shirt
Material: 60% cotton, 37% lyocell, 3% elastane | Size Range: 0-22 | Care: Machine washable; hang dry
For a fitted look, Mango has you covered. The brand’s Essential Cotton-Blend style is one you’ll wear again and again, as its design is pared down to complement, rather than distract, from anything you wear with it. Another plus: it's part of Committed, the brand’s sustainable garment collection, meaning it's been produced using sustainable fibers and/or processes.
Best Oversized: Nili Lotan Yorke Shirt
Material: 100% cotton | Size Range: XS-XL | Care: Dry clean only
When it comes to designer Nili Lotan’s wardrobe, the Yorke shirt—an oversized silhouette with clean lines—is a staple. The style is slightly longer in the back and has no topstitching for a tailored yet minimalist approach to white shirting. The fabric is lightweight to keep you cool despite the extra amount of fabric that makes it oversized. It looks great both tucked or untucked, so anything goes, really.
Best Short Sleeve: Tekla Poplin Short Sleeve Shirt
Material: 100% cotton | Size Range: XXS-XL | Care: Wash warm with like colors; hang dry
For a perfect spread collar and loose silhouette, Barnes recommends Tekla’s pajama styles. This short-sleeve version is a unisex fit in crisp poplin, or cotton, weave. Wear it to lounge at home or over a tank top for casual dress outdoors. It's been lightly stonewashed for added softness, so you won't need to wear it in.
Best Silk: L’Agence Dani Blouse
Material: 100% silk | Size Range: XXS-XXL | Care: Dry clean only
L’Agence makes a classic button-down blouse softer and slicker than any other number on this list because it’s crafted from charmeuse silk. The three-quarter length sleeves and relaxed open collar make the style fuss-free. Pair it with jeans, trousers, or a midi skirt of your choosing, and prepare for instant elevation.
Best Blouse: CO Back Pleat Blouse
Material: 63% cotton, 37% nylon | Size Range: XS-XXL | Care: Dry clean only
CO’s white shirts are having a moment, so it’s only fitting that we include this billowy V-front version. We love its shell buttons, extra-wide cuffs, and inverted pleat detail at the back body—all of which make this blouse unique. While it costs a pretty penny, you'll find endless ways to style this piece—making it a staple worthy of your wardrobe for, well, a very long time.
Best Detailed: Nili Lotan Thea Shirt
Material: 100% cotton | Size Range: XS-XL | Care: Machine wash
The beauty of Nili Lotan’s Thea shirt is all in the details. The style features scalloped broderie anglaise trims, pintucks (or very narrow tucks of fabrics), and herringbone stripes to create layers of texture and a vintage feel. For a balanced look, we’d love to see her tucked into a pair of true blue high-rise jeans.
Best Linen: Asceno Milan Shirt
Material: 100% organic linen | Size Range: XS-XL | Care: Hand wash cold
Asceno easily makes the best linen shirts, says Barnes, because it perfects a relaxed yet effortless silhouette. The brand’s Milan Shirt is loose-fitting enough to be a great piece of loungewear (especially when paired with the matching linen bottoms) but refined enough to style with jeans or trousers. It doesn't hurt that it's crafted from organic and sustainable lightweight linen. In the cooler months, wear under a cashmere sweater so you can benefit from this breathable shirt any month out of the year.
Best Men’s Style: J.Crew Stretch Secret Wash Shirt
Material: Organic cotton and elastane | Size Range: XS-XXXL | Care: Machine wash
For a laid-back look, consider a more boxy silhouette borrowed from the boys, like J.Crew’s Stretch Secret Wash Shirt. Comfy and versatile, you can layer it seamlessly under chunky knits in the winter and wear it open as a swim cover-up, in the summer. If you're feeling extra fancy, personalize it with your monogram for only $10.
Best Sleeveless: Lafayette 148 Siona Top
Material: 72% cotton, 23% polyamide, 5% Lycra | Size Range: XS-XL | Care: Dry clean only
Lafayette 148 has a talent for capturing East Coast sensibility—that’s clear if not only based on this tailored sleeveless style called Siona. It’s made from crisp cotton-blend poplin, with a subtle A-line silhouette and details like a front please and a smart notched collar that reminds us of something Jacqueline Kennedy would wear in her years as First Lady.
Best Budget: Uniqlo Rayon Long-Sleeve Blouse
Material: 76% rayon, 24% polyester | Size Range: XXS-XXL | Care: Machine wash cold on delicate
When it comes to shirting, Uniqlo offers the best bang for your buck at just under $30—with a wide array of sizing available. Reviewers, who have given it an average of 4.7 stars, love its simple design, softness, versatility, and wrinkle resistance. It's machine washable, too, so consider all the money you'll save not having to take it to the dry cleaners.
Best Splurge: Bottega Veneta Cutout Cotton-Poplin Top
Material: 100% cotton | Size Range: 38-46 IT | Care: Hand wash
For a white shirt that’s extra indulgent, look no further than Bottega Veneta’s Cutout Cotton-Poplin style. It’s rich with innovative details to transform conventional white shirting—the cap sleeve is architectural and dramatic, while the cutout at the back is subtle but unexpected. And from a material perspective, its stiff cotton-blend poplin sculpts the silhouette, making the nips at the waist that much more noticeable, and the silver-tone buttons are distinctive, or different from what you’d find on most other white shirts, and elegant.
Best Buttonless: Cinq à Sept Mckenna Top
Material: 93% polyester, 7% polyurethane | Size Range: XXS-XL | Care: Dry clean only
For a shirt with structure, definition, and detail and without buttons, try Cinq à Sept’s Mckenna, which comes in both a long and short sleeve version (view at Saks). It's a top pick for Freeman for its elegant shape and versatility. "This style, like all great white shirts, demonstrates that good design and tailoring ultimately determine what looks good," he says. "The shape and proportions create a feminine silhouette perfect for both work or a night out.”
Best Oxford: Thakoon Classic Oxford Shirt
Material: 100% cotton | Size Range: XS-XL | Care: Machine wash cold on delicate; tumble dry low; dry clean
Get office-ready with Thakoon’s classic oxford shirt. Crafted entirely from cotton, this wardrobe staple style is best known for its stiff structure made from basketweave fabric. But perhaps what we love most about it is its small but significant design elements, like its slightly oversized silhouette, curved hem, and left chest pocket.
Best ¾ Sleeve: CO Button Down Shirt Tunic
Material: 63% cotton, 37% nylon | Size Range: XS-XL | Care: Dry clean only
Fan of three-quarter sleeves? So are we, especially on CO’s tunic style in cotton. The blousy three-quarter sleeve button-down is full of unique details, like a hidden placket, side slits, and a fishtail hem. It’s also oversized, so if you’re looking for such a silhouette but don’t want to fuss with a full sleeve, this style could be for you. It is a bit sheer, however, so keep this in mind if you are looking for an option more office-friendly.
Best Mandarin Collar: Pangaia Women’s Oversized Shirt
Material: 100% organic cotton | Size Range: US 2-12 | Care: Machine wash cold, inside out; hang dry
If you’re not much into collared shirts but like the look and versatility of a button-down, Pangaia has a relaxed fit with a mandarin collar that might just be made for you. In terms of material, we love this one because it’s made with sustainability in mind, entirely made from organic cotton, and treated with anti-odor properties to keep it fresher for longer, which saves water, energy, and time.
Best Stretch Cotton: LAUREN Ralph Lauren Easy Care Stretch Cotton Shirt
Material: Cotton and elastane | Size Range: XS-XL | Care: Machine wash
Per the name, this style is a crisp classic with a little bit of give in the material, since it’s made partly with elastane. It’s easy to tuck in and looks good with virtually anything, from jeans and flats to trousers, heels, and a blazer, when necessary. The modest price tag enables you to invest in a few as well, so you can always count on having a clean one on hand.
Best A-line: CO A-line Button Down Shirt
Material: 100% cotton | Size Range: XS-L | Care: Dry clean only
CO takes a unique approach to shirting with this A-line style—a silhouette that’s naturally dramatic thanks to its volume—in crisp cotton-blend poplin. But what we love about this style is that the shirt becomes the focus, particularly when it’s paired with a simple pair of trousers and sandals. It’s also nice that it’s versatile and wearable throughout life’s stages; the A-line style can be worn for several months during pregnancy.
What to Look for in a White Shirt
White shirts are generally made from some form of cotton, rayon, linen, or silk. Different materials cater to different needs, so keep this in mind as you shop for the perfect white shirt—whatever that means to you. If you want something breathable, perhaps look at linen options. For something stiff or structural, cotton blends are best. Or if you’d like something very soft, to lounge or be comfortable throughout the day, check out linen, stonewashed cotton, or silk—the first of which softens with each additional wash and the third with which we associate luxurious comfort above all else.
White shirts aren’t created equal, and by that, we mean that you should consider the structure and the lines of each shirt in question to be sure that it suits your needs and body type. Are you more comfortable in a fitted shirt or an oversized one? If you plan to wear the shirt mainly with leggings, then perhaps a roomier style that’s longer in the back would suit you best. With anything high-waisted, you’ll want a cropped white shirt. At the very least you should know, do you like a standard collar, a V-neck, or a mandarin collar? No matter your preference, there are options out there.
How do you get a stain out of a white shirt?
“The most effective and efficient way to spot clean a white shirt is to mix one part each of baking soda and benzoyl peroxide in small amount,” explains Freeman. “You will know the mix is right when the consistency of the solution is a somewhat loose paste. Use a soft toothbrush to gently work it in and you will see results almost instantly. This solution is especially great for wine and coffee.”
Rather than using a common yet harsh chemical like bleach, Barnes says it’s best to treat stains with a stain remover, then washing on a cold cycle. She recommends Ecover Stain Remover, which uses biodegradable and plant-derived ingredients, to target tough stains without contaminating aquatic ecosystems.
What color bra should you wear under a white shirt?
“I love a minimal triangle bra under a white shirt,” Barnes says. If you don't want it to show underneath your white shirt, wear a bra in similar color to your skin tone.
How do you style a white shirt?
This advice depends on the look you’re trying to achieve. For a more feminine silhouette, Freeman says you can’t go wrong with a white long sleeve button-up shirt, jean shorts, and platform heels, à la Beyoncé. Or you can “add a bit of edge by cutting a fitted white T-shirt or white long sleeve button-up shirt with scissors, creating a DIY cropped top. Pair with Dr. Martin high-heeled combat boots.”
And of course, buttoning is key. The sweet spot? “Two or three down, just at the breast bone,” Barnes says.
Why Trust Byrdie?
This shopping guide was written by Byrdie contributor Hayley Prokos. A seasoned commerce writer and editor, she’s constantly on the hunt for classic and versatile pieces. Her work has appeared in SELF Magazine, Newsweek, and the daily Greek newspaper Ekathimerini, and she holds a Master of Arts in Journalism from Northwestern University.