Button up chic: Here’s how to level up your classic white shirt

When you hear the words “timeless” and “wardrobe essential”, what’s the first piece that comes to mind? For me, it’s definitely the white shirt. Its classic design makes it a blank canvas for various stylish looks suited to any occasion. Aside from the basic pairing with black trousers, there are several stylish ways to elevate the white button up shirt to show how versatile and elegant it is. Whether paired with a skirt, accessorised to perfection, or layered, this wardrobe essential is bound to make a statement in every fashionista’s collection.

Here are some stylish ways to achieve the button up chic look with your white shirt.

Cropped over a skirt

How to DIY a crop shirt
Image: Andrea Iyamah via Pinterest

I love the contrast of a crisp white button up shirt with a flirty skirt. To achieve a stylish modern take on this classic look, opt for a cropped version of the white shirt to highlight your waist. You can experiment with various skirt lengths, patterns, and fabrics to personalise your style. This will create a sophisticated and playful look.

With accessories

How to accessorise your white shirt
Image: Joy Kendi via Pinterest

It is a fact that accessories have the power to transform any outfit, and the white button up shirt is no different. Elevate your look with statement jewellery, such as bold necklaces and oversized earrings, to add a touch of glamour. Cinch your waist with a stylish belt or gold chains for a more defined silhouette, or throw on a vibrant scarf to inject a pop of colour. You can also play with accessories like sunglasses, hats, and handbags to express your unique style. 

White shirt over shorts

White shirt summer look with shorts
Image: Aby X via Pinterest

For a relaxed vibe, pair your white shirt with shorts and tuck in the shirt for a smooth appearance, or leave it out for an easy, casual look. Try this look with different short styles, from tailored to denim, to suit various occasions. This combination is perfect for warm weather, and it is breezy and stylish.  To complete the look, add a pair of stylish sneakers or sandals . 

White shirt and trousers

White shirt and jeansOften the most effortless pairing with a white shirt, there are different ways pants can elevate your button-up look. For a sophisticated androgynous look, wear your white button-up shirt over a loose pair of trousers. Tailored trousers are the perfect choice for a business-ready outfit, and wide-leg pants offer a more relaxed and street-style feel, especially when paired with sneakers. This versatile pairing allows you to seamlessly transition from a day at the office to an evening out, showcasing the enduring appeal of the shirt.

As a set 

Wearing white shirts as a coord set
Image: Osas Ighodaro via Instagram

Hear me out, the power of a coordinated set cannot be over-emphasised. Whether it’s a classic suit or a matching blazer set combination, wearing the white shirt as part of a set is elegant. This look is perfect for formal events, business meetings, or occasions where you want to make a lasting impression. Style with matching accessories and footwear to showcase the cohesive beauty of a well-put-together set.

As a jacket

Wear your white shirt as a jacket
Image: Mieda via Pinterest

You can transform a classic white button-up shirt into a stylish jacket by simply leaving the shirt unbuttoned while slipping it over a top or a sleek dress. You can roll up the sleeves for a relaxed look or keep them down, depending on your vibe of the day. Pair this with denim pants, skirts, or shorts for casual days or textured pants for an elevated business casual look. 

Knotted at the front or back

Add a stylish twist by knotting your white shirt at the front or back. For a casual chic look, tie the shirt at the front to achieve a cropped and laid-back look. This style pairs effortlessly with high-waisted denim pants or skirts. For another option, you can tie the knot at the back. It accentuates the waist and brings detail to your outfit. Both looks are perfect for any casual or semi-casual occasion.

White shirt as a layering piece

How to layer white shirts
Image: Bridgette Official via Instagram

White shirts are ideal as a chic base under a sleeveless dress, camisole, corset, or a cosy sweater. The possibilities are endless with this style. If you pair it with a corset or camisole, you can let the ends of the shirt peek out, or tuck it into whatever bottoms you choose. You can also leave it out for an extra street-style effect. Either way, your ensemble will look flawless!

Over here, we love our wardrobe essentials, and the white shirt is at the top of the list. With an effortless ability to switch your looks from casual to business-ready, white button-up shirts reign supreme. Which of these ways do you style yours? 


  • Praise Vandeh

    Praise Okeoghene Vandeh is a Culture writer with a Bachelors degree in History and International Studies. She is also a Nora Ephron alumnus. Praise is a feminist who is passionate about women causes and has founded a non profit called Project Give The Girls which aims at eradicating period poverty. When she is not writing or advocating for women’s rights, you can find her reading, watching sitcoms or bantering on twitter.

  • Omotola Saba

    Hi, Omotola here, the human form of the 100 Emoji and the fashion and beauty writer at Marie Claire Nigeria. She started writing for fun and merged it with her love for fashion, and beauty. She's mostly at home, picking up yet another new hobby, scrolling through pinterest, laughing with her family or at dad jokes, or sleeping.

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