White Collar Job

Fashion journalists love to use the word ‘workhorse’ when describing a wardrobe staple that gets a lot of use in one’s closet. While this word can sometimes be overused, one item that unequivocally fits the bill is a great white shirt. How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.

We are all familiar with the magic of a great white shirt. It’s a year round wardrobe staple that goes from day to night and instantly makes everything you’re wearing look better. I especially love a good, stiff white collar because of the chic, chaste, formal correctness it immediately imparts and I am not alone; Karl Lagerfeld is similarly besotted. Those crisp, starched white shirts with the high collar that Karl is always wearing?

They all come from the famed Paris shirt maker, Hilditch & Key, located at 252 Rue de Rivoli (he reportedly has over 1,000 of them). As he once told Elle Magazine, “We can’t count the number of models of shirts and collars that this wonderful house has done for me. I am more than loyal. This is my madness. I am a “shirt freak.” They also make my night shirts and my white quilted kimonos to draw at home. The perfection! I don’t’ know better.”

With that in mind, I wanted to do a roundup of some great white shirts, from the pure and classic to variations on the theme, that are accessible on this side of the Atlantic. I included separate bibs and collars because very often, it’s not the whole shirt, but the collar, that can easily do the trick and they can give you the look without the bulk. Genius!

These are some of my favorites:

Anne Fontaine Armantine Blouse

Anne Fontaine Armantine T-Blouse with jersey pima front and back, poplin pima collar and sleeves, $250.  More info/purchase

Anne Fontaine Clodie blouse in jersey pima cotton with a Swiss style pleated shirtfront, poplin collar, buttoned placket and cuffs (fitted but relaxed), $250. More info/purchase

Anne Fontaine Patsy ruffle collar jersey shirt with cotton double collar, organza sleeves, embellished double ruffle down mid center placket, $295. More info/purchase

Rag & Bone Calder reversible white poplin shirt with shirttail hem, button-down back with tie ends, $375. More info/purchase

Karl Lagerfeld tuxedo style bib from Plastron tunic shirt, $102.96. More info/purchase

Michael Kors Collection white cotton poplin bib, $341. More info/purchase

Anne Fontaine Biba white poplin Peter Pan collar, $100. More info/purchase

Anne Fontaine Tara white poplin collar with braided accents, $285. More info/purchase

Anne Fontaine Taho shirtfront adorned with insertion of openwork trim enhanced with black velvet pleats at the collar and along the shirtfront sides. It can be worn alone or layered and fastens at the back by a knotted belt, $795. More info/purchase

What goes best with a white shirt? A black tie of course. Whether classic and simple (which is perfectly in step with the boy meets girl thing that could not be more on point) or more fanciful, they add a touch of careful stylishness:

Anne Fontaine Sinatra black chiffon and lace scarf, $250. More info/purchase

Anne Fontaine Terry removable tie in black poplin, which is reminiscent of 19th century dandy style, $115. More info/purchase

Mignonne Gavigan adjustable black silk chiffon tie with beads and pearls, $395 More info/purchase

Mignonne Gavigan Amber neck scarf in hand-dyed black charmeuse trimmed on the edges with tiny pearls, $64. More info/purchase

– Marilyn Kirschner

Marilyn Kirschner

I am a long time fashion editor with 40+ years of experience. As senior market of Harper's Bazaar for 21 years I met and worked with every major fashion designer in the world and covered all of the collections in Paris, London, Milan and New York. I was responsible for overall content, finding and pulling in the best clothes out there, and for formulating ideas and stories.

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