I Love My PWT: Three White Shirts and How to Wear Them

Wondering how to wear a white shirt? We’ve got you covered.

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I love my sequin, lace, and graphic tees as much as the next girl, but sometimes it’s nice to go back to the basics — enter the plain white tee (or as I like to call it, the PWT): a shirt so versatile that you can dress it up, down, or over the moon.

It’s the perfect go-to piece for your lazy days, and as such, I’ve chosen three styles of this classic shirt: the T-Shirt, Oxford, and V-Neck, and styled them into three everyday-chic looks.

Want to see how to wear a white shirt and look fabulous? Read on!

How to Wear a White Shirt: The “T-Shirt”

Outfit set with white tshirt, velvet pants, black boots and bag.

Products: T-Shirt – Missguided, Pants – Madewell, Boots – Lulus, Bag – Lulus

For my first outfit, I’m going to go with old faithful — the plain old basic crew neck t-shirt.

While it’s a classic, that doesn’t mean this tee shirt is boring. In fact, far from it. Since it is so simple, it gives you a great chance to play with the rest of your wardrobe.

To start off this outfit, I chose a bold colored pair of velvet pants. These pants act as the main visual in your outfit and work great when combined with this simple shirt. Then, to make this look more edgy, I chose these black boots with a detailed round zipper. Finally, I added a round textured bag.

The Collared T-Shirt

Outfit set with collared white t-shirt, black jeans, cheetah coat, white flats and a black bag.

Products: T-Shirt – Zara, Jeans – Urban Outfitters, Jacket – Lulus, Shoes – Lulus, Bag – Lulus

For outfit number two, I chose this collared t-shirt. Not only is this shirt another classic, but it’s also an important staple in any girl’s wardrobe. This top specifically is perfect for any occasion like a class presentation, job interview, or even an evening out with the girls.

Now I paired this shirt with skinny high waisted black jeans to keep it more casual. This leopard print coat is wonderful for the fall heading into winter weather. It also works nicely with the collar on the shirt, and the print brings together all the colors. Next I chose simple white flats to keep the outfit looking stylish and not overwhelming. Finally, I finished everything off with a cute black tote bag.

The V-Neck

Outfit set with a pantsuit, t-shirt, black bag and white flats.

Products: Pants – Princess Polly, Blazer – Princess Polly, T-Shirt – Madewell, Bag – Zara, Shoes – Zara

For my last outfit, I chose a relatively newer classic — the v-neck. Of all the shirts in this article, v-necks are my favorite because they are universally flattering: they show just enough skin and accentuate your neck while drawing attention to your face.

To start off this outfit, I mixed matching pants and a blazer. With blazers and especially pantsuits trending, I thought they would be a perfect pairing for the t-shirt. I love the mint green suit paired with the white T-Shirt; it gives the entire outfit a light feeling. This small black bag gives texture to the look, while these white flats are a fashion girl essential.

Shirt Recommendations

Group of white t-shirts

When it comes to white shirts, you can get them at absolutely any price point – from $10 to $100. But after lots of trial and error, I’ve found that Hanes will forever be my homegirl shirt brand.

Not only are Hanes tees cheap (about $10 dollars), but they also come in packs of 3-6 (depending on the quality of the shirt you choose). They’re loose, but not too loose, and just the right size for lounging or going out for a walk in the park.

If you wanna test them out, you can find these shirts for cheap at stores like Target, or just steal them from your boyfriend’s closet (always fun!).

Zara white shirt

Unfortunately, when it comes to finding the perfect button-up shirt, the search not as simple.

When looking for a button-up, you’re going to have to put in more effort and spend a little more money than when looking for a white tee. Try on different styles, and don’t give up if one doesn’t look right on you! Each button-up is different and will have a different cut, shape, and fit. But there WILL be one that’s going to look right on you, and when you find it, all that hard work will have paid off!

For a fun example, the button down from Zara above is super fun to play with because of the ruffles and seams.

J.Crew boy shirt

If you want something more classic, the J.Crew boy shirt above is a favorite at a slightly higher price point than Zara.

Accessories

As with all outfits, your look is only as good as the accessories you wear. That said, accessories are especially important when you are wearing a plain white shirt! Your shirt is like a blank canvas; as such you will need to throw paint (or in this case, accessories) into the mix to take your outfit from boring to fun.

Easily Accessorizing a Plain White Shirt

There are many things you can pile on in order to dress up a plain white shirt; here are some key accessories that should be in any girl’s wardrobe arsenal.

  • Scarves – Scarves are ridiculously easy to throw on when you don’t have time to think about other accessories. For spring, look out for light scarves and during winter, look out for heavier ones in any color. They add a touch of color to your outfit and can be worn during any season depending on the material.
  • Rings – Rings are awesome, they add a touch of sophistication without distracting too much from the rest of your outfit. And since there are so many styles, they are a great way to express your individuality. Whether you’re trying to show off your sapphire green heart-shaped diamond ring, or your studded skull ring, you can’t go wrong with a little added sparkle in your look.
  • Bracelets – Bracelets, like rings, can add some interest to your outfit without being too showy. They look great piled on or just worn solo- especially with a plain shirt. If you’re going to pile them on though, make sure that you don’t overdo it with any other jewelry. Balance is key.
  • Necklaces– Necklaces come in all shapes, sizes, and colors. Because of that, it’s important to have a collection of all types because you never know what will go with your outfit. When I wear a plain white tee, I love to rock a statement necklace, making it the focal point of my outfit – it’s an instant attention grabber! The blue floral necklace above, as well as the jeweled black one, are both good examples of statement-making necklaces. They’re fun and different, which will make your your outfit stand out from the rest.
  • Colorful or Different Shoes – When you are wearing a plain shirt, it’s fun to step out of your comfort zone elsewhere in your look. Instead of wearing some boring old sneakers, why not go for some ruby red flats or statement-making high tops? The basic shirt will balance them out.
  • Belts – Belts are among those accessories that I love but often forget about. They’re great because they not only keep your pants up but can also make your outfit way more interesting and put-together in one swoop.

When it comes down to it, you can rock almost anything with a white tee: just make sure it’s unique. You want to stand out and not blend in; that’s what makes your outfit cool rather than boring. So wear that cute headband you have been wanting to try on or those red boots that are hard to style; your white shirt is a vehicle to take risks, so go for it!

Thoughts on how to wear a white shirt?

Do you like plain white shirts? What do you wear yours with? Do you have a favorite brand of shirt? What do you think of the outfits I put together? Let me know your thoughts on PWTs; I can’t wait to hear them!

Editor’s note: This post was originally published in 2010; it was completely updated and revamped in 2019 with new photos and information.

36 thoughts on “I Love My PWT: Three White Shirts and How to Wear Them”

  1. GREAT article! I am constantly buying white tees and long sleeve shirts, and I probably wear them at least twice a week! The outfits posted here were really great too, good work Kim!

    Reply
  2. I was wondering about buying unisex/men’s tees and what kind of fits are best. I’ve always bought basics from the women’s section so they’re always fitted but I’m really inspired to try out things from the men’s section as well, since looser clothes are more comfortable. Is it better to get a smaller size (S/XS) or go all the way with the oversized-ness and buy a large one? I’m of average built, by the way (size 4-6).

    Reply
  3. I wore a white v-neck tee today. You’re right – they’re a perfect staple! I paired mine with a pink cashmere cardigan, black body-con skirt, printed tights (with hearts!) and black suede boots. Because there was enough going on with the rest of the outfit, the white tee didn’t look too plain. Seems like we were on the same page today. 🙂

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  4. I’m so glad to see someone use the term “homegirl”! I’ve been trying forever to figure out what someone’s “HG product” was on MA. And thanks so much for the Hanes suggestion! I’m definitely interested in trying out some PWT’s, but didn’t want to spend too much on a style I might not like. The Hanes shirts are a perfect solution! <3

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  5. It’s super hard to find the white button up shirt! I’ve been looking for the perfect one since forever! But yes, white tees and white shirts are essential to my closet. Great article btw!

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  6. I´ve always found JCrew´s shirts a perfect fit because they are not too loose so that you look either boxy or that you stole them from you mom´s Martha Steward inspired outfit.

    I´ll try Hanes tees, see if they really live up to the expectation.

    Thank you for the advice!

    Reply
  7. So I read this yesterday and decided that today would be a great day to wear a plain white tee (I chose to wear a vneck with a pretty cardi) and whaddya know, like 5 million other girls on campus were wearing the same thing 🙂

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  8. I love white tees! They are probably one of the best articles of clothing to have in your closet along side a great pair of fitted jeans. White tee’s are perfect for every season, as you can add on others to make them more versatile. Not to mention, with spring here and summer on the way, they help bring out your tan! Wearing a white tee also makes it looks like you didn’t try too hard, even though you can still look fab.

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  9. Some great ideas and inspiring outfit options!

    For me personally, though, other than the white dress shirt, I prefer my basics to be in black. It’s a flattering colour, an excellent contrast to my pale skin, goes well with both the vivid and the pastel colours in my wardrobe and, best of all, is much easier to keep clean! Nevertheless, I believe the concept is very much the same, regardless of whether the items in question are black or white. ^_^

    Thanks for posting!

    <3 from pretty-preoccupied.blogspot.com

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  10. I practically live in plain white shirts. My only problem is sheerness. Even my nude colored bras show. I will definitely check out hanes.

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  11. love this article- very inspiring!!
    i particularly love outfit 2 :]]]
    i always associated a white shirt with school or a job interview so I love this fresh take :]]]

    Charlotte
    (girl next door fashion)

    Reply
  12. I didn’t like the fit of Hanes boys tees. They fit really boxy and were not cut for a woman with curvy frame. I’d suggest buying Heritage 1981 tees instead; they’re super cheap and fit great.

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  13. This article is well presented and well written. Thank you so much for writing a useful piece that I will surely reference in the future. Thanks again 🙂

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  14. See the problem I have is what should I wear underneath it? I have a bigger chest and all white shirts seem to be sheer so what should i do?

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  15. I actually don’t have any plain white shirts in my closet except for like 2 tanks. But i’m definitely gonna get some cus they do seem super easy to dress up when your feeling easy. My only problem would be finding one that fits. I guess with the mens hanes pack, would a small be the best size for a girl or a medium maybe?

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  16. 🙁 Am I the only one who has trouble with my bra showing through wearing these? I mean even a white bra just gleams through my shirt if its white! Don’t get me wrong these looks are cute but I can’t get away with it.

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  17. thank you so much from this post
    i remember asking for it be4
    great job with the outfits(love the pops of colour in all outfits)

    i have a white t, white button down and white boyfriend shirt
    love how they can be built up

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  18. Great post! The outfits you put together are very nice. To Cheri: I found that Ralph Lauren makes the perfect white oxford. The fit and length are perfect and the tails stay tucked in.

    Right now I’m on the prowl for a white button up dress shirt, which is pretty hard to find.

    My requirements: long enough to be comfortably tucked in and not flop out if I raise my arm, 100% cotton, not see through, not an oxford (I have many of those but they are a bit casual for when I want to dress up a bit), and a classic silhouette (no ruffles or puffs). It has to be a dress shirt, so the cotton has to have a tighter weave for a crisp finish.

    I can’t find a shirt that gets it right. It always has some lycra, or is made for women who walk around with their shirt tails hanging out on purpose (even in a work environment!), or is so sheer I swear it was made for hookers. And to top it all off, when everything works, somehow designers want to stand out and attach a bow, add a ruffle, or make puff sleeves.

    Anybody have an idea where I could find a dress shirt that would work?

    Reply
  19. Hey everyone! Sorry it’s taken me so long to respond to your questions (midterms are killer!)

    @Sami-Ha! I totally know how you feel, whenever people used to use the phrase HG in blogs, I’d always be scratching my head. But now I know what it means, and now I use the phrase “Homegirl” all the time!

    @Brittanie, Camillie, & Kitty– When I get the Hanes shirts I get a Small in mens. They are probably the equivalent to a women’s Small/Medium, which is a perfect fit for me. If that size is too big for you, you can probably venture into the boys department and seek out the same shirts- I’m not sure about the sizing for those though. Probably a large boys would be a small- but I’m not sure, you’d have to check it out for yourself.

    And as far as oversized shirts go. I do also own the Hanes V-necks in Medium. I wear them when I go to the gym so I can wear tights and not show cameltoe (haha). They’re also really comfortable for pajamas, but I don’t know if I would wear them in a normal setting, they’re not fitted enough.

    @Miss Tofu– I love black v-necks too. Black is my favorite color to wear. It’s neutral and slimming. Problem is I live in California, home of the hot summer sun. Haha!

    @Harlow, Ali, and Annie– The best advice I can give to you when it comes to sheerness is to try and find a nude bra to wear underneath your shirt. White is way too bright to wear under a white shirt and that’s why it is so easily seen. A nude bra will be the best bet to hide your bits. Other than that, I would suggest wearing a nude colored cami-tank underneath, it would probably give you more coverage.

    @Schmee– The only advice I can honestly give you, is to not give up. I too am still in search of a perfect white button up, and one day I will find it!

    Reply
  20. I love this post. :] the PWT is one of my favourite basics and I’m always looking for new ideas to spice things up. I really like the idea of some statement jewelry or super exciting shoes to match it. :]

    Reply
  21. PLEASE give us some tips on what we can do to not have our bras show through these!! I absolutely love your post, because i’ve been on the search for the perfect PWT for awhile now, but haven’t had any luck. I’ll definitely check out the Hanes tees, but please tell us what to do about the sheerness. 🙁

    Reply
  22. I like wearing either black or brightly colored camis underneath my white tees!
    This way your bra doesn’t show through, and it adds a little bit of color. Especially with black camis they doesn’t really show through as much as you’d think, so it still gives the effect of a plain white shirt. Sometimes I even wear a patterned tank and that can look really cool and add that extra flair to your outfit.

    Reply
  23. I was watching What Not To Wear one time and they went to a store that sold button up shirts by the bra size, does any one know of any stores that do that? I can’t remember what it was called.

    Reply
  24. I totally agree with this article. I’m loving the organization and tone, also. It’s quite a coincidence that I’m wearing a V-neck white tee right now. I only wear this one in the house(for lounging purposes) because there is a small rip in the side.

    I find that wet seal is a good place to start for basic tees. I have a nice PWT from here in my closet. I’ll give the Hanes brand a try since I have my college is right across from Target.

    I’ll be needing some fab accessories like the ones you displayed in the article to dress up my white tees from now on instead of just a colorful belt with matching earrings, bangles and a headband.

    Reply

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