White shirt or blue shirt? How to decide.

White and blue shirts are essential classics in any man’s wardrobe.  But if you have to choose… which one should you go for first? And why?

Let’s start with why you should consider white.

If you don’t wear one - or don’t even own one - it’s fair to say that making sure you have a crisp white shirt in your wardrobe is an immediate style priority.   

We’re talking a smart casual white shirt here, not a business shirt designed to be worn with a suit.  After all, white shirts are appropriate for almost all occasions and having one you can wear with anything from jeans to chinos to shorts is a smart investment.

Why do they work so well?

They’re clean, fresh and can be paired with pretty much anything, at any time of year.

They look great on everyone, regardless of skin tone, hair colour or eye colour.

And if you’re feeling a bit tired (or just a bit dusty from the night before!) putting on a white shirt will instantly make you look brighter and clearer - even if that’s not how you feel on the inside!

If you want to take your smart casual white shirt game to the next level, look for one with subtle detailing.

For example, a white shirt with understated coloured buttons, particularly brown buttons, elevates your look because the touch of colour breaks up the solid block of white.  It’s also easier to tie your white shirt together with the rest of your outfit if the buttons or another subtle feature, like a contrast stitching, tie in with something else, for example your trousers, jacket, shoes or belt.

Convinced?  You should be!  But if you’re still not sure, that might be because you’ve had a bad experience in the past.  And chances are, that bad experience has something to do with dirt or a spill. Let’s be honest, most guys have, at some point, dropped their lunch or had a glass of red wine spilled down the front, which is obviously not ideal.

Keeping your white shirt clean is the only real disadvantage to wearing one.  Not just while you’re wearing it, but generally.

It’s critical that you keep your white shirt white.  That means paying attention to the cuffs, dealing with any stains (Vanish stain remover spray is worth having on hand alongside your regular detergent) and making sure you wash it either on its own or with other whites only.  

Getting lazy and washing a white shirt with non-whites will just dull the colour and make it look, well, a bit dirty.  Which is not the look we’re going for! Remember, if someone notices, you want it to be for the right reasons.

If you can’t bring yourself to be responsible with your laundering then your only alternative is either to take it to the dry cleaner, which means you might not end up wearing it as much, or...

Going for blue.

Blue shirts are ultra flattering and any guy with blue eyes should have a wardrobe full of them.  I work with so many blue-eyed guys who wear grey and black, which does them no favours. If that’s you, getting more blue into your wardrobe will instantly get the compliments rolling in!

But you don’t have to have blue eyes to wear blue because, like white, it works for everyone.

Also, blue gives you a level of flexibility you don’t get with any other colour.  Not only is there a clear spectrum from the palest sky blue down through to the darkest navy, you also have a huge range of fabrics to choose from.  

From pure cotton in any shade, to a pale or navy blue linen, to chambray or full denim.  This season we’re even seeing the return of seersucker, an ultra light and breathable cotton that’s a dream to wear in the summer.  

There’s so much variety available with blue that it makes it easy to keep your looks both interesting and flexible, when really you’re working from a ‘uniform’ of sorts that helps keep the daily ‘what to wear?’ decision-fatigue to a minimum.   

  • Blue shirt + jeans? Check.
  • Blue shirt + coloured chinos? Check.
  • Blue shirt + grey tailored trousers? Check.
  • Blue shirt + camel shorts? Check.
  • Blue shirt + anything navy? Check.
  • Blue shirt worn open + t-shirt underneath? Check.

Basically, if you’re not much into fashion or you’re short on time, investing in blue shirts is a smart decision.

So now the case has been made… White or blue?  If you have blue eyes, your default should be a blue shirt (almost) every time.  Otherwise, it’s up to you!

*This was originally published as guest post for We Are Gntlmen