Fashion: the perfect white shirt

An antique lace-style white top looks equally lovely with jeans, smart trousers or a pencil skirt. Lovely!
Women’s Jenny Shirt from Crew Clothing – This shaped, longer line style is so wearable. It looks great with smarter trousers too.

Women’s Jenny Shirt from Crew Clothing – This shaped, longer line style is so wearable. It looks great with smarter trousers too.

Fashion Ed Heather praises the classic white shirt

I was in London last week, which I always find exciting (as if I am a visiting teenager all over again), and I had an hour to spare between day and evening appointments. I spent that hour very wisely, in the beautiful House of Fraser store at Monument trying on clothes, having already bought some life-enhancing Laura Mercier eye makeup – the pencil transforms my barely-there eyes into something more defined, and it lasts all day!

I found myself in the Mango concession once again, looking at their beautiful tailored dresses that are more like very fine coats, and their sweaters and straight-legged jeans.

And I was definitely not going to try anything on. Definitely not. Because I am on an economy drive due to the revamp of our bathroom…

But I did.

I tried on a beautiful figure-hugging black knitted dress with a scoop neck, which was so perfect I had to have it for £24.99. Then I tried on the white shirt. Actually I tried to try it on, but the size was so snug it would not meet in the middle, and they did not have the size up.

A classic combination – jeans and a white shirt. Only wear one with breast pockets if you are modestly endowed.

A classic combination – jeans and a white shirt. Only wear one with breast pockets if you are modestly endowed.

Then the assistant had a brainwave. She would look at the one on the mannequin. And guess what? It was for me – a perfect fit and a perfect white shirt. Really white, shaped and slightly longer, so that you could wear it out over trousers or tucked in, and with some super cuffs and a matching embossed collar. All for only £19.99.

And because I have a thing for white shirts, I had to buy it. Of course I did. Because a good white shirt is essential – absolutely essential – for the wardrobe. In fact, at a party this Saturday I noticed two of the best dressed women (one my own sister) were wearing white shirts. Impeccably white. For that is crucial.

White does not mean slightly yellowy, faintly grey or even a blue white. It means a true white – so white it dazzles. And that is how it needs to stay, helped along by all those wonderful powders and sachets you can buy to pop in the wash these days to keep your whites oh-so-white.

I wore my new white shirt yesterday for the first time, with some grey cigarette pants and a pair of loafers and a fitted, short corduroy jacket and scarf. I felt great.

The white shirt effect…

Another shell top – again this would look perfect underneath a jacket or loose cardigan – but neatly covers the shoulder and upper arm area if you get a bit hot.

Another shell top – again this would look perfect underneath a jacket or loose cardigan – but neatly covers the shoulder and upper arm area if you get a bit hot.

Buttoning up your shirt can look a little severe, but with a pencil skirt the whole effect is extremely smart.

Buttoning up your shirt can look a little severe, but with a pencil skirt the whole effect is extremely smart.

An antique lace-style white top looks equally lovely with jeans, smart trousers or a pencil skirt. Lovely!

An antique lace-style white top looks equally lovely with jeans, smart trousers or a pencil skirt. Lovely!

I know this is rather summery, but it would look great under a jacket or cardi. You can get similar tops in Mango and Primark.

I know this is rather summery, but it would look great under a jacket or cardi. You can get similar tops in Mango and Primark.


Heather Boal-Russell

About Heather Boal-Russell

Like many women of my age (52 – just), I have had several careers, including lawyer, sales manager and teacher. I am also a wife and the mother of three daughters, and recently added grandmother (of the wonderful Alettia) to my list of accomplishments. Having grown up in Northern Ireland, my heart is still drawn to the sea but I now live in beautiful rural Sussex - ideally placed for Gatwick Airport (travel definitely broadens the mind) and those inspirational shopping (and, of course, cultural) trips to London.

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