The term "effortlessly chic" gets thrown around a lot in fashion. In reality, these two words are rarely applicable. But when it comes to the white shirt? Absolutely. No matter what sort of budget you have or what kind of sense of style, the white shirt is the ultimate wardrobe staple. Is there anything so simple yet so chic? It's so easy to wear at the weekend and for the office. Perfect for a night out but also a night in watching Netflix. It's the ultimate classic to have in one's arsenal, and whether it's oversized or fitted, linen or poplin, there are endless ways this classic piece appeals and can be rendered.
The white shirt even has its own icons. Old Hollywood stars such as Audrey Hepburn and Grace Kelly wore them loose with capri pants or tucked into pencil skirts. Another recognizable look comes from Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman, in which she wore a white shirt tied at the waist and a miniskirt.
Modern-day white-shirt muses, however, include the likes of Jenna Lyons, former creative director of J.Crew (after all, she reconfigured how we view this humble item). But perhaps our favorite go-to celebrity for white-shirt styling inspiration is Victoria Beckham, whose insouciant way of rolling up her sleeves has us wanting to do the same.
But whatever your preference, one thing's for certain: Finding the one that fits you is like finding the fashion holy grail. It needs to fit just right, and not gape at the chest or be so huge you look pregnant (unless you actually are, of course). It needs to weather a coffee spill (because it will happen), and it needs to be long-lasting because when you find the ultimate one, you'll never get rid of it.
To get the definitive guide to the best white shirts for women, I put the question to our 2000-member Facebook group, So... Should I Should Buy This?, asking them where they've found their best-ever white shirts. I also asked all the editors at Who What Wear which brands they rated. I had plenty of responses, and some labels clearly stood out, but what was evident was that no matter the price, people were willing to pay for more if a genuinely perfect fit was on offer.
Of all the brands that came out on top, there were two winners: COS was the most popular in general, as well as Gap. But there were so many more that were recommended—from Madewell's relaxed-fitting silhouettes to Theory's great quality fabrics that will last you a lifetime. Ready to discover your favorite white shirt? Keep scrolling for our edit, and then see how to style yours.
H&M wasn't mentioned in the group discussion, but I've had a white shirt from the brand for about five years, and it hasn't let me down. Great for a cover-up on the beach, but also smart enough for work.