Is a Blue Shirt the New White Shirt?

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Is there any fashion item that’s more lauded than the simple white shirt? Probably not. It’s on every “must-have list” of “wardrobe staples” I’ve ever read. You know, those fashion items we’re told every girl or woman needs in their closet. Right up there with a great pair of jeans. The white shirt has been on the cover of fashion magazines like Vogue countless times. Even on their famous 100th Anniversary issue in April 1992. By the way if you want to get your hands on a copy of this so-called “iconic” issue…. there’s one for sale on Kijiji for only $50.00. Seriously.

I’m not disputing the value of a great white shirt. Or blouse. I always have a couple in my closet. Right now I own a classic, white, button down shirt. As well as a tuxedo-style one with ruffles down the front. It looks great under a mannish tweed jacket for fall.   Some women just have the knack of looking fabulous in a white shirt. Lauren Bacall. Audrey Hepburn. Ines de la Fressange. And Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy. She had great style, didn’t she?

Carolyn Bessette Kennedy at the Annual Fundraising Gala at the Whitney Museum of American Art March 9, 1999 in New York City. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Getty Images)

I’ve noticed that the rumpled white shirt is big this season. I’m too much of a neat freak, and I like ironing too much to sport that look.

But even though the white shirt, however you wear it, rumpled or pressed, is still the reigning queen, fashion does seem to be having a blue shirt moment. I loved this blue shirt when I saw it in a post by Alyson Walsh on her blog That’s Not My Age. She talks about how this cover for the July issue of British Vogue garnered all kinds of on-line yammering… mostly negative. You can read Alyson’s post here. But despite the slings and arrows hurled at Vogue about this cover, I agree with Alyson… Stella Tennant looks wonderful. The very epitome of “ageless style” at only forty-four. I might be biased, though. After all her grandmother was a Mitford.

Jenna Lyons, creative director and president of J. Crew, also sports a blue shirt with pizzazz.

So is the blue shirt becoming the new white shirt? Ines de la Fressange says it is. She thinks it’s a “wardrobe staple,” clean and crisp and not as boring as a white shirt.

And now I am joining the ranks of blue shirt owners. So exciting. This is my new, blue, going-into-fall shirt. I bought this blue Equipment shirt at the Nordstrom Anniversary sale. I like the shirt-tail hem, and the generous cut. And I love it with these Paige high-rise, skinny jeans. And my Stuart Weitzman loafers. I’ll probably add my blue Smythe blazer in the fall. Or I have a longer (mid-thigh length) black, Elie Tahari jacket that might be even better. Fall outfit planning is so satisfying.  

But for now, I swapped the loafers for my Stan Smith Adidas for a day of shopping with my sister. We are picking up a gorgeous Escada dress that she bought last week at the Anniversary Sale, and had altered. And we have appointments at Nordstrom for a bra fitting. Shopping for a bra can be sooo frustrating. The overwhelming number of brands, and styles and colours…. and sizes. It is not an activity for the faint of heart.

So I’m off. Hopefully looking casual and cool in my new blue shirt. Even if I’m not rumpled and frayed like the really cool girls. I can’t bring myself to do rumpled. Or wrinkled. Well, except for the other non-trendy facial-wrinkled-ness… definitely got that going on.  

Ah well, you work with what ya got, people.

Three hours after I took this shot, and two new perfectly fitting bras each to the good, my sister and I were scarfing down thin crust pizza at the restaurant in Nordstrom and giggling like teenagers. Wrinkles and all.   We do love our sisterly shopping days.        

What about you? White shirt or blue shirt? Rumpled or pressed?  

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22 thoughts on “Is a Blue Shirt the New White Shirt?”

  1. Hi Susan, I'd say I'm blue shirt – with a white shirt I'm always worried about messing it up. And I prefer them pressed – but, here's the thing, I don't like ironing them! I usually enjoy ironing, except for shirts – good job my husband has lots of them in his closet, since I always put off ironing shirts for as long as I can.

    By the way, is the bag also new? I can't remember if it's been on the blog before, but it looks familiar; anyway, great colour for fall.
    P.S. You're not the only one who won't/can't tuck shirts in anymore!

    1. I hate housework as a general rule…except for ironing. I love to iron. I talked my husband through ironing his own shirt a few years ago. So far he's done…two! The bag's not new, a couple of years old, in fact. Even though it's a spring/summer bag..the color is good for fall. And since I wear so little bright colour it always adds some to my outfit.

  2. I love both white and blue shirts. Now that I have enough wrinkles in my face, I can't pull off a rumpled fine cotton shirt (chambray or denim are ok) but the no-iron cottons irritate my skin and an ironed cotton shirt that is untucked looks good only for about 4 hours. Alas, my first world problems 😉

    Your pale blue shirt will look wonderful with your burgundy jeans and yellow bag.

  3. Another ironer!!! I love to iron and always have. My Mother liked it too and taught me well! Daughter, not so much! I iron everything I can get my hands on.
    White shirt or blue shirt? I like both. Actually,my very favorite shirt is a J.Crew, from perhaps 15 years ago, that my daughter bought when she was in high school. It sat and sat until I adopted it a few years ago. Small, blue pinstripe on white. And oh so very crisp!!! The collar stands up so beautifully and the cuffs fold back just the right way. Am debating wearing it on the flight to Rome; very wrinkled, yes, but then, that's part of the charm, no?

  4. I do like sisterly shopping perhaps because you can be more brutally honest than friend shopping or maybe that's just my sisters & me ? I remember Alyson W's blue shirt post & the fact that many people complained of the pic being too plain & unstylish but I liked it . You've given me some ideas for the shirts in my wardrobe – white , blue , check , dot , stripe etc . Margaret Howells are my favorite. Funny , we don't call them blouses any more
    Wendy in York ( who hates ironing )

    1. I laughed at the young reader who commented that the shot of Stella in her blue shirt looked like an ad for "menopausal medicine!" Yes…when we were kids, boys wore shirts and girls blouses…even if they were cotton.

  5. I've always thought it would be lovely to have a sister to go shopping with! I do have great fun shopping with my daughter though …. She saves me £££s …usually with the words " I think you suit the one you've got at home much better!! " I have a blue boyfriend style chambray shirt similar in style to yours that I wear with white jeans or dark jeans with a cashmere sweater over. I really like the Stella Tennant Vogue cover … Simple and stylish!
    I don't like ironing either!! 🙂

  6. Had a few problems with poor wifi so just pressed publish when I realised I'd forgotten to add that I had a really good Flat White in the Strada Cafe in Le Marais Paris earlier today! Thanks so much for mentioning it, otherwise I wouldn't have realised how good the coffee was ….the best I've had in over three weeks! Very much appreciated! I also feel very lucky to have been able to see the Eiffel Tower sparkling whilst lying in bed tonight!!

  7. You look fantastic in your shirt! I love this look. Unfortunately even at my skinniest I did not look good in a white shirt. Short with big boobs. It doesn't work! But a beautiful blue or even a black works just fine and is very slimming as well as crisp, tailored and goes with everything.

  8. A definitely prefer the blue. White shirts are just horrible against my skin. I had my colours done. My "white" would be more of a light beige. You look great in your blue shirt.

  9. Hi Sue,

    I love both blue and white shirts, the crisper the better so they are always ironed. Both my Husband and I enjoy ironing so no problem there. I love all your blue shirt looks and although I can’t quite master the semi tuck, I do love that you ‘popped’ your collar.

    Thank you Sue,

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