5 Reasons A White Button-Down Is The Sleeper Staple Of Summer

Wear it with swimwear, athleisure, dresses, and more.

Laura Lajiness
white shirt outfit

Polished classics like blazers, slip skirts, and blouses have regularly anchored many of my outfits throughout the years. But like many recently, workout sets and sweats have overwhelmingly taken over. However, one tailored piece has drawn me in once again — the white button-down shirt — perhaps as my personal antidote to quarantine’s many fatigued trends. My inability to pare my closet down to a capsule of versatile pieces notwithstanding, I love the concept of a few hardworking staples in rotation with whatever drifts sweep me up. Romantic tops, brightly colored dresses, and gingham prints are some of my current favorites. Though I own five or six white shirts that I’ve styled into what’s likely hundreds of outfits, I’ve long eyed Misha Nonoo’s Husband Shirt. It’s cut for an oversize fit with exaggerated cuffs and gold-tone stud buttons for added polish — they’re subtle but like built-in jewelry to dress up the otherwise simple design.

Nonoo’s brand ethos is rooted in sustainability and capsule wardrobing with expertise in classics. She designs in small batches and offers made-to-order pieces in an inclusive size run from XXS to 4X to limit waste while working with organic fabrics like cotton and linen. Various customizations like monogramming and stud color selection amount to clothing with a more personal feel, too. These aspects are all of greater importance to me when shopping for new clothes, and subconsciously, probably reasons why my white shirt flame reignited. After finally procuring one of my own, I quickly began piecing together various outfits centering around the timeless piece. Keep scrolling to discover five winning combinations I devised for summer, and shop my edit if you’re inclined to recreate them on your own.

Misha Nonoo’s The Husband Shirt, featuring exaggerated cuffs and gold button detailing. Laura Lajiness

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Easing In With Athleisure

It only felt natural to slowly ease away from my 24/7 comfy routine when first taking my Husband shirt for a spin, which meant cut-off sweatshorts on the bottom. To steer this pairing in an out-of-the-house direction, I added a tube top to the mix, wearing the white shirt open like a jacket when meeting friends for drinks. Gold jewelry, a sleek pair of sunglasses, and my vintage Chanel bag helped dial up the fashion girl effect as slip-on sneakers grounded the look for a more casual finish.

Comfy At Home

Defaulting back to comfortville on a Tuesday — hey, you can’t blame me, I work from home — I loosely tied the button-down over my morning workout look of a crop top and biker shorts when stepping out to walk my dog. The shirt’s crispness proved handy when a last-minute Zoom meeting came up shortly thereafter, as I no longer needed to panic change into something professional. Naturally, I kept it cozy on the bottom by opting for a colorful pair of socks.

With Swimwear For A Picnic

I don’t get a lot of beach or pool time living in NYC, so most of my swimsuit outfits are debuted in the park. But, as a sun-adjacent enthusiast, as I like to call it, the shade is my happy place on shining days. My white shirt served as the perfect protective layer with a printed bikini and linen sarong skirt for a picnic with friends. And because coordination is always at the forefront of my mind, I carried my picnicking essentials in a tonal tote, finishing with a few delicate pieces of jewelry, including a fun anklet.

Pajama-Inspired, But No PJs

Another day, another comfy work-from-home outfit for this freelance writer. But this time, sans activewear — huzzah. Instead, I went for a pair of pajama-inspired pants to withstand a particularly humid day, teaming them with a cropped tank and my white shirt, once again worn as a breezy top layer. Though infinitely more polished, I felt just as comfortable as I do in my beloved spandex. Honestly, I awaited kudos from my neighborhood onlookers since they’re used to seeing me in my workout finery. Alas, there were none, but I digress. I’d definitely wear this again to dinner with friends or swap in heels for a fashion function — the two-tone leather bag helps to dress it up for added style cred.

Layered Over A Dress For Cocktails

My work-from-home lifestyle indeed leads to many uninspired outfits, but it sparks unnecessarily dressed-up moments, too. Like when my husband and I decide on a whim to visit our local wine bar, and I select a semi-sheer floral maxi dress for the occasion. Totally chill, right? My white shirt was the perfect piece to downplay the dressiness — a pair of nude flat sandals and a straw bag helped, too. Instead of overdone, my outfit had an air of low-key sophistication about it that felt right on for a balmy evening.