August 19, 2019
Wait! Don’t just skip over this because you’ve never had luck in the past finding button-front shirts that fit properly. They DO exist… (and of course, these outfit ideas would work beautifully with light neutral blouses or tee shirts…)
Not all that long ago, I got a job working in a bakery. It wasn’t exactly the job of my dreams, but I wanted to work there for a few months so that I could learn more about how everything was done. It was fascinating…
I had to wear a long-sleeved, button-front white shirt every day. Happily, I found that Lands’ End Petite sized 12 fit both my strong torso and my rather short arms. So don’t give up!
I’ve given some thought to what you need to keep in mind when you’re making this choice:
Once you’ve figured out your size, you can keep in mind what you might be able to do with a pink or light blue shirt… They’re flattering colors, and quite versatile. Of course these kinds of shirts are perfect for work…
You can wear different tones of the same color…
When you find shoes that match your big splurge sweater, consider them…
For those of us who love warm colors, a yellow shirt can be so nice to have!
These shirts are great when you want a visual “oasis” of calm in a colorful outfit!
Shades of blue can work really nicely…
When traveling, having 1 of these shirts handy gives you something to wear under a sweater (and then you can wear the sweater on its own another time!). These shirts are also great over a tee shirt…
These aren’t the kind of shirts that will amaze and delight you, but they help your wardrobe be efficient and effective. Sometimes, you have to invest in the basics, right?
p.s. 4 years ago, I was pondering what would be included in a wardrobe of bags…
The pink and grey outfit is so pretty! I can do with that Cardigan. Thanks for showing that the basic shirt don’t necessarily need to be white. Now I just need to find one whose buttons don’t pop over my bust..
Isha, I had the same problem until I tried on a larger size but in a petite rather than regular fit, which buttoned up nicely over the bust but didn’t bag around the shoulders and upper back. Also, I opted for a semi-fitted style rather than fitted or tailored as these tend to have more darts placed around the bust area. Hope this helps.
If you have a large bust, buy a shirt with enough ease to fall smoothly over your bust and not bind you when you move or stretch out fully. Then get a tailor or seamstress to add darts and remove any excessive fabric. Yes it’s an additional cost, but it is better to have great fit and fewer clothes than a plethora of garments that don’t fit.
VERY much enjoying your creative and analytical brain. Clever approach! Egads, I have hated white button-down shirts for decades. Might be those 18 years in parochial uniforms? I have a chambray on order now…..a bit sneaky perhaps, but less stark than white. I have a weakness of being a “lazy dresser” using one bottom and one top. Working on the cardigans and easy-wearing jackets. Thank you for your inspiration!
Diana Naylor says
I love your fashion, love the blue ones on this blog, especially “the everything” pages, on other blogs
I had a car accident and lost part of my sight and colour differations, so… I was wondering is the any way that you can put the colors on a blog, e.g. Is it a black or dark navy skirt.
I also love your dress blogs, found some I think in 2012?
Thanks for all your hard work. It is hard to work through pain and we appreciate it.
Diana – I can put colors in the links at the bottom of each image – will that help?
Sania from Zagreb says
Yes to colors too, please
Thank you Janice, it would be very helpful for reading in less than ideal light. But I wouldn’t like you to have yo struggle with all the fashionable words (pepper, storm, etc.), just an indication as Diana suggests when confusion could arise.
I could call it what seems like the most useful and informative name that comes to ind quickly – none of those useless “fashion” names. I’ll start working on it and we can all discuss how it goes. I’m always open to suggestions for how to improve!
Chris in Indy says
Surprisingly, button-front shirts can be polarizing!!
I finally found “my” best buttonfronts at Orvis and Duluth. Why? Clothes that are made for hiking/fishing/outdoor working fit me better. Cut broad through the shoulders, under arm gussets (Duluth) plenty of room through the rib cage but not overly baggy through the waist. I am not part of their target audience but I’m built like it. No retail stone unturned…I may pay a bit more, but both companies have sales and I wear the heck out of my buttonfronts.
I think the other tough part is the idea of tucking. I tuck, but only when I’m wearing a cardigan or jacket over it. Otherwise I look for more of a tunic length.
Sara K says
I don’t think I would survive without these shirts. They sound boring because every article about “wardrobe essentials” praises the virtues of good basic shirts, and yet in real life they are not nearly as common as one might think-so if you wear one a lot, this could be one of the items that define your style. I get to meet all sorts of people from different walks of life, so it does not seem to be occupation or social class related either. Don’t know if this is the cause or the reason for the fact that good basic shirts for women are not all that easy to find. Many stores have some version available every season, but without exception it always seems that there are some details that make them item less versatile.
I’m dreaming of finding this type of shirt in some fun color like yellow or maybe lilac, but that seems to be about as easy than chasing down an unicorn…
Lands’ End sometimes makes some more fun colored shirts – it’s smart to stay on top of their offering because they seem to come and go frequently. I have FOUR shirts from them in various black and white prints, which I’ve carefully accumulated over a few years!
Have you thought of getting a white cotton one and dying it yourself? Rit dye is amazing stuff! Just be sure to launder the shirt first to remove any sizing treatments from the manufacturer, then die it by hand according to the dye instructions.
Sara K says
I have refreshed colors of some of my cotton shirts in washing machine. It has worked beautifully, however, the thread used in these shirts is usually still polyester, so the dye doesn’t affect it. If the shirt’s original color is white, then the stitches will show. If the goal is just to refresh a faded shirt, that will usually turn out well. Also, obtaining lighter colors can be guesswork, especially if there are not many items in need of dyeing.
sara k, Rit now makes dye for synthetics, which might work on the cotton shirt with polyester thread. I haven’t tried it so I can’t say how well it does, but you could test it out on something old or ready to toss just to see.
Wendy Chambers says
I am new to scarves (since reading this blog) and wonder how you tie the dotted scarf with the white shirt and red cardigan?
Oh, maybe under the collar of the shirt, or onto a handbag, or wrapped around the heroine’s wrist as a bracelet? I confess that I was thinking sort of an ascot-like affair with it inside her shirt, and just a glimpse of it showing…
Check out a website called Mai Tai’s Picture Book; she shows EVERY POSSIBLE way to tie a scarf. And she’s beautiful and elegant…
Wendy Chambers says
Thank you for the name of the book!
Oh you are certainly correct on this. I just googled Mai Tai’s Picture Book and discovered that is the name of her blog. How lovely! And there’s a scarf tutorial tab for those of us new to scarves and how to wear or use them. Thank you Janice for sharing this information.
You can also use a scarf clip to tie the scarf in various ways. The ends of the scarf are drawn through a loop on the scarf clip.
Leslie Lord says
I have a classic denim style shirt in tensel fabric. It is softer and fits well. I wear it over top of a white tee as a “jacket” it can be worn under a sweater as the fabric is light too. I plan to take it to Italy and France this fall in my carry on.
I love linen for summer. Everlane has nice ones.
I found my perfect white shirts at Target of all places. Smooth woven cotton, nice hand-feel, substantial enough to be opaque and well-fitting. I bought two and was tempted to buy more but really don’t need more in one week, which is how often i do laundry. And they were only about $20 each.
Smart! When you know what you need, you can keep your eyes open for good bargains…
Uniqlo makes a lovely button-up rayon shirt–or I guess you could call it a blouse–that drapes nicely off the body and is great for travel because it dries overnight and does not require ironing. If like me you find traditional oxford cloth button ups to be too stiff to flatter, you might give Uniqlo’s softer version a try.
I have that shirt and second your recommendation. It is too warm for summer (at least in NC) but has a great relaxed fit with a long cardigan or tied at the waist with a tank under it in cooler months.
Button front shirts are not my friend. I live in Canada and for the life of me cannot find any button front shirts with enough ease in the biceps. Shirts tend to be made for stick insect figures not real people that actually exercise and lift weights!
I am faithfully pulling the weekly items from winter storage I find it a huge help. Many thanks for all your research.
My biggest fit issue with woven shirts of any kind is the upper arm (biceps?). I’m not muscular, just overweight with larger-than-average-for-my-size upper arms. All that to say that I just discovered L.L.Bean’s Wrinkle-Free shirts. I bought a 1X secondhand on EBay and it’s a near perfect fit. I hope this may help someone else. It is so hard and takes so much trial and error, but I DO so love having a crisp collared shirt!
For those with bigger busts, let me recommend Bravissimo. I recently discovered their shirts, which come in UK sizes 0-14 and in three bust sizes: Curvy, Really Curvy, and Super Curvy. I usually wear a 16 or 1X in US sizes and have a bra size of 36F/G, and I fit their 14 Really Curvy perfectly. Finally, a shirt that buttons over the bust but isn’t a sack everywhere else. One caveat: They come only in “regular” lengths, so as a petite, I roll the sleeves and shorten the hem by an inch or two (or not!) to get my most flattering fit.
Sania from Zagreb says
After searching this shirt for 4 years, that is the time of me following TWF, I am finnaly settled for cotton sleeveless ones. I’m allways hot, and sleeves are not visible below upper layer. I have 2 white cotton ones, one of which I plan to tea dye.
My favorite button up collared shirt is a silk jersey. Mine is red; I would buy it in more colors if I could find it. So drapey!
Jeri B. says
I’ve become fond of Land’s End. I started out with a down coat. I’d liked one of my friend’s a great deal. Being from Milwaukee, I feel like I’m buying local since Land’s End is in Wisconsin. But I digress. This summer I purchased a light blue boyfriend shirt with tiny bees in a overall pattern. I wear it as a second layer jacket substitute. I receive so many compliments! I wear a medium and the shirt fits nicely through the shoulders and is hip length. It has plenty of room for my wide hips. It’s hard to find a boyfriend shirt and it makes a good summer layer. Thanks for the article on button front shirts.
This series is very helpful. Every fall I do this, sort out my fall/winter wardrobe. Some years are good, others are a struggle. I cannot say enough how helpful your advice is. This program works! I am following instructions every week and my frustration level is very low, which is different than most years! The key concept, for me, is choosing the colors and sticking to them. Many new fall colors are tempting, but not what I need. The timing is good, as it allows me to take advantage of sales and also get items before they sell out in my size. The pacing is also good, as I have a whole week to consider the items and do sourcing, including my closet. I have a very casual life and did not think I would ever need a button up shirt. Yet I am trusting your judgement and have found solid color flannel shirts (Lands End) that I am going to try. This has been an excellent series, and I thank you!
I found The Shirt by Rochelle Behrens to be the answer to my issue with the dreaded gaping between the buttons. They have a few strategically placed hidden buttons that keep the front placket smooth and gape free. The Shirt comes in classic colors as well as fun prints.
Loft makes a “Utility shirt” that fits me perfectly in petite size — drapey but not too drapey; just the right amount of give to make it look great under a jacket of by itself. I love the look of a crips shirt but don’t feel comfortable in them. Unforutnately they only make a few in this cut every year and they’re often the wrong color for me or have some weird detail. Why can’t they just make something called “utlity” in plain BASIC COLORS???
I am going to put in a plug for double-sided tape. The brand I use is Hollywood Fashion Tape (it sells on Amazon) and you can also use it to tape clothes to yourself. I haven’t don it, but now that I know this I can see when it’s done on tv or in movies! Anyway, if you have shirts that fit you but gap between buttons, stick this stuff on and the problem is solved!! My crisp white shirt from JC Penney, of all places (for a fitted shirt, try on EVERYTHING), looks great when it doesn’t gape. So great it’s almost worth the stiffness…