Styling a White Tailored Shirt


Do you have any advice on styling a man-tailored shirt with jeans? Especially for us short waisted types, even shaped shirts can look sloppy and boxy. I’ve tried belting them but I don’t really know how to do it so that it looks good. I don’t want to give up , because I love the look on my portrait area. It’s just my waist and below where it begins to look like a mess.

Styling a White Tailored Shirt


white shirt floral skirt

So here are my tips on how to style a men’s style white collared button down shirt so it doesn’t swamp you or make you look overly short waisted, while still looking feminine.

My first styling here is with a floral skirt.  The reason being is that it’s a masculine/feminine mix that stops the shirt from looking too business and authoritative.  Now I’m wearing the skirt just below my natural waist (so think a skirt more on the hips) with the shirt tucked in (and this is actually a man’s shirt, I stole it from my husband’s wardrobe, but it is a men’s slim fit design).  Men’s shirts have much longer tails, which allows for tucking and blousing (notice that I’ve bloused the shirt over the waistband of the skirt which helps to make my waist look longer.  I paired it with a narrow belt which looks better on a lower waisted skirt.

button down white shirt with skirt

In this second skirt and shirt styling I’m wearing the skirt higher up – making it high waisted with an added wide belt and not bloused the shirt.  My aim here is to make the shirt the “short” garment and skirt the “long” garment proportionally.  This doesn’t work as well if you’re very busty (like I used to be) as it can overemphasize your bust, but it’s fine if you have a regularly large bust or smaller.  I think it’s really important to accessorize a white shirt with an interesting or larger scale necklace inside the collar, it takes it away from being such a masculine garment and adds some detail (as the shirt is a very plain garment in itself).

white shirt black pants

Now I’m doing the shirt and black pant.  This can look like you are part of the wait staff if you’re not careful, which is why I’ve accessorized with the blue necklace, belt and ring.  That pop of colour takes it away from being too boring.  If you’re tall you could wear an alternate shoe colour for interest, or if you’re also wearing a black jacket to go with your pants (so you have the column of colour on the outside), but if not, then blend your shoes to trouser for a longer leg line.  Again I tucked and bloused the shirt a little for some waist elongation.

white shirt black pantsIf tucking is not your thing, or the shirt is too fitted to blouse, look for a fitted shirt with a shorter hem that is made to be left hanging out.  It’s much more fitted than the men’s style shirt in the earlier pictures.  This is better with trousers than a skirt, as with a skirt the proportions can be thrown off when the shirt is left out as it becomes too 1:1 proportionally and more boxy.

white shirt and jeans

When choosing a white shirt I always look for some detail (like in the shirt above, with the puffed sleeve and black braid down teh sides) to make it more interesting and a little feminine (this one is my shirt, not my husbands!).  The broderie anglaise type of fabric makes this a more feminine option and so works well with the plain jeans (rather than needing a feminine bottom half).  You’ll notice I’m also wearing a white cami underneath, this stops you noticing the waistband of my darker pants, and elongates your waist.

white shirt and jeans popped collar


Here I’m wearing the hubby’s shirt with my mid-rise jeans, but I’ve popped the collar and added a little jacket/shrug for detail plus a more industrial style necklace.  Standing the collar up can be great to elongate your torso as long as you don’t button too high – notice (as I have the cami underneath) I only button to the mid-bust point, no higher – that helps to elongate through the neck area for a taller/slimmer look.

Always remember the rules of co-0rdination the one of volume plays well here – shirt voluminous, then a fitted bottom half, more fitted shirt,you can wear a more voluminous bottom.

White Shirt Campaign – Ovarian Cancer Research Foundation

Speaking of White Shirts – the Ovarian Cancer Research Foundation has launched it’s annual White Shirt Campaign (and you know that this is a cause close to my heart). From 8 April you can purchase a white shirt from Witchery (they will have 7 styles to choose from) and 100% of the sale price is donated to the Ovarian Cancer Research Foundation.  Wear your white shirt from 6 April to 8 May 2017 and #whiteshirtcampaign and  finish the sentence “I wear a white shirt because” with a message that encourages support, when you post a picture online to draw attention to this worthy cause.





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  • Great ideas Imogen. I have several fitted man tailored shirts that look lovely on top but not quite right around my short waisted midriff. I think I will emulate the middle option and simply hem them strait across at a flattering shorter length (for me my high hip area), this way I can look casual but tidy and not have to worry about belting. The cami is a great idea too.

  • I can echo the advice about high waisted skirts. I am short waisted with a larger bust, and I never thought I’d look good in a tucked shirt/pencil skirt combo until I found a well-fitted high waisted skirt (think 1930s or ’40s style with a very high waist). I never would’ve tried it on if it had been advertised as such, but Wow! It’s incredibly flattering because it seems to elongate my midsection, plus the blousing on top balances out my hips. (I’m a short figure 8.). That skirt has made it possible for me to wear unfitted tops that would’ve looked shapeless and awful in the past.

    Now how do we get high waisted pants to make a comeback? 🙂

  • As a middle/low contrast gal I’m wondering how to escape the high contrast problems with a white shirt worn with a lot of my pants/jeans. As an H who has become more an O figure, the shirt is going to have to be untucked I think. I went through my white shirts and tunics today and I’m concerned I’m going to have to get rid of them (or dye them). I have white hair with fair skin and teal eyes.

  • I love the popped up collar look but whenever I try it inevitably someone will come along and ‘fix’ my collar. Has this ever happened to you?

  • I like the options you show here. I dyed my too bright white shirts with a tea stain color and find it more flattering to my Intriguing palette and warm toned skin. Also, I wear colored pants in my palette instead of black. As an H shape, I have given up wearing belts, but I like your shirt blousing around the waist of your skirt then adding a skinny belt.

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