A friend of mine who is coming out of his ascetic shell and is about to embrace some consumerism has decided that he needs to first build his wardrobe. He asks me what should he invest in. And I thought, wow, the grandeur of that question. Don’t wardrobes just appear into existence? I was flipping out over this fashion conundrum but I thought GIRD YOUR LOINS, not so dramatic now.

The issue of building a wardrobe is very real. The most basic approach to this is to highlight the sartorial needs and tailor the wardrobe to meet those needs. Sounds easy enough. But everyone has different needs, perhaps with the exception of the intrinsic requirement of having to be clothed at all (even some may find this contentious though!)

So I conducted a mini-experiment. I went to my wardrobe and tried to narrow down to one single most crucial piece of garment that I cannot do without. The kitschy trinkets, lapel pins and the wristbands were the first to go. Trendy pieces including acid wash denim and rabbit cashmere cardigans didn’t last the race either. After eliminating one item after another, I was left with two things: A white shirt and underwear.

Nevermind the underwear. But the white shirt, I feel, is essential. So many looks rest on the classic white shirt. And designers are always finding ways to reinvent it – be in for men or women. Notably, Vogue-endorsed Thai designer Thakoon did a collaboration with GAP on his signature white shirt. Upon this wonderful discovery, I shared with my friend a few options to choose from when deciding on that staple white shirt.

Top choices for white shirts include those from Emporio Armani, Kris Van Assche and Filippa K. The fabrics are also usually a mix of synthetic fabric weaved into the cotton to give it that special touch. Subtle details are also introduced such as evening out the edges of the collar (as seen in Givenchy) to add a novelty without undermining the integrity of ‘the white shirt’.

Ultimately for me, two things come to mind time and time again when choosing staples: fabric and fit. The right fabric will determine how the shirt rests on your form and the right amount of sheen will give the shirt the luxe factor that makes it distinguished from the common pile.

And quite honestly, with that right white shirt, your wardrobe will feel complete without having to stock up with too many pieces.

Images via carolinesmode.



  1. nice read!and when i say read,i read from start til the end, that i had to realize that it was a different author. at first, i thought it was dinie :)
    totally agree with the writer's point of view ( nabil ). though, it takes some extra elegance-slash-refinement-slash-grace to pull off a plain white shirt and still look very valuable, while the men in the photos above already are and even more with the suit, trench coat,slim tie.hmnnnnn,can black can be a substitute too for white? just a thought. :)

  2. StyleAnywhere: Thank you for the compliment! I really appreciate it. Haha! Added boost for the posts to come. Anyway I agree with you that it helps if the person wearing the white shirt has a little extra charisma; otherwise, it runs the risk of looking mundane. We always enjoy a white shirt more on the likes of Josh Harnett or even Brad Pitt for that matter, as opposed to an average Joe, no?

    And yes, black's great too. But tends to look a bit grim on me.. but I shall try! (:

  3. Can't beat a classic white crisp shirt, on man or woman. I've recently dug out mine and tried it on for some shots, I'd forgotten how they can transform an outfit and add a touch of elegance.

  4. ahh elegance, yeah, it makes everything looks chic and classy. Best thing, you can wear it for as many time and no one will notice.


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