The Game-Changer

Angie at You Look Fab

Despite my declarations that I really had given up on the idea of the “crisp white shirt,” I continued to be inspired by looks like Angie’s above. My previously stated surrender wasn’t because I didn’t feel the look suited my style; I do. It wasn’t for lack of trying; I did. But my short, big-busted body was having none of it. If the shirt fit the bust, it was too big everywhere else, including the shoulders which really can’t be easily tailored. The end result was something mannish or frumpy, not at all a wardrobe asset. I tried the workaround – a white tee or knit top – but it just didn’t provide that sharp, pulled-together look I was going for.

Lafayette 148 NY “Leila” Blouse

So when I saw this blouse at the Lafayette 148 New York website, that pleating made me sit up and take notice. Certainly not mannish, and not your standard issue Corporate Drag button front shirt. Structured without being fussy. I’ve had some good luck with tops with ruching through the torso or waist, and with free shipping and Petite sizing, thought this would be one last Hail Mary pass before the clock ran out.

To carry through with the football metaphor….. Touchdown.

Let’s first address the linebacker in the room: this is an expensive shirt. No equivocating. But it looks, feels and fits like an expensive shirt. When I opened the box the shirt (on a hanger) was folded minimally, and when I removed from the packaging there was nary a crease. There wasn’t a loose thread or button, and the buttonholes were pristinely and tightly stitched. No puckered seams anywhere.The collar and cuffs have a firm enough interfacing to help them hold shape without being stiff. The fabric has a soft but substantial hand and just enough stretch. After two wearings and sitting at my desk most of the day creases and wrinkles were negligible. I’ve washed it according to directions (machine wash cold, line dry) and steamed it out, and while not as crisply starched as when new, still looks neat and sharp. (Using a steamer will never yield that same crisp pressed look as ironing, but it’s easier on the fabric, and quicker too.)

Best of all, I feel as though I’ve found a missing link that helps pull my work wardrobe together.

This fits like a dream, and those pleats do exactly what I’d hoped…they contour the shirt to my shape. I wore this to the office twice the first week, and imagine I’ll continue to wear at least as often for the foreseeable future. This piece falls squarely into my “fewer, but better,” Investment Dressing plan. I do hope Lafayette 148 keeps this one in the roster. Currently available in Misses, Petites, and Plus sizes.

(A note about sizes: I find Lafayette 148 New York runs a size or even two smaller than say, J.Crew or Land’s End. Don’t be afraid to size up. Order per the size chart according to your measurements.)

Do white shirts have a place in your wardrobe?  Are there any particular brands or styles that work best for you?

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  1. I love white shirts but I struggle with a big bust too, so always end up looking slightly baggy around the midsection, this would work wonderfully for me too.

  2. Oh that shirt sounds fabulous!
    I have a Talbots white shirt in a petite 14 which I had to go up a size because of my bust. It fits great and I love wearing mine whit several strands of pearls at a time…
    I love those ones that Angie is wearing!!

  3. Love Lafayette shirts!! Even own a colored (fatigue) one with ruched to the elbow sleeves–fab.
    Watch 4 their sales. Better pieces for that certain age femme sure make me feel better. Brooks
    Brothers makes a great white no iron shirt too–plain classic perfection.

  4. Wow, gorgeous shirt; the details, the cut! Absolutely worth it! (And like hostess, I sense it begs for pearls 😉
    If you want the crisp finish back, just buy a can of spray sizing or starch.

  5. It is a beautiful shirt and if it fits like a dream on you it is definitely worth the money. I love the crisp white shirt look myself and do have a couple white shirts I love to wear when I dress up.

  6. Anytime I wear white I attract coffee spills. 148 has the same shirt in a lovely blue color. That’s the one I’ll try.

  7. I totally agree that a crisp white shirt is a foundational piece in a well-dressed wardrobe and this one is très chic for sure. I can imagine it with both a skirt and a pair of great-fitting dark jeans. And, of course, a scarf!

  8. I have a similar white shirt problem – big bust, short waisted – but I also have a tummy and muffin. It would be great to find something similar for someone who doesn’t have a trim waist. Your lovely shirt looks like it needs a slim middle.

    I used to buy Brooks Brothers no iron shirts but found that it was almost impossible to get the neck and cuff edges clean – soaking & stain remover helped but didn’t get them 100% clean.

  9. This brand has such lovely items-I always fall in love with a jacket, and I am NOT a jacket person. I seem to wear more than my fair share of white shirts: linen, Oxford, piqué. Other than cashmere turtlenecks in winter, it’s an item I’ve been happily claiming as my trademark. Looks great with skirts, trousers, jeans and shorts. While I have a small bust and waist, my problem is somewhat broad shoulders, so if the shirt fits through the body, it wil be tight across the shoulders. Frustrating. I must try this one and see if it becomes my Holy Grail, too!

  10. Want want want!! I’ve never been happy with button up shirts either, for the same reason…gaping buttons or no shape at all. Don’t know if I will jump, I’m afraid I would ruin it, but it’s tempting.

    Thank you for sharing this. It’s really helpful to see “the one perfect thing”.

    Have you ever found perfect black trousers for hot humid summer weather? What material is breathable besides linen? I’ve found black linen fades badly and really isn’t all that cool anyway. Perfect would be breathable, soft, and more dressy than casual.

  11. I´m happy that you found a white shirt you like. It does look good on Angie with the beads.
    I don´t know why, but I don´t like to wear shirts myself. Too masculine on me?
    The only kind would be a blouse- type, off-white ( if it has to be white ). Then again, I have little, if none use for one. Sigh.

  12. I love white shirts and have a few that are great. A bold suggestion for you. Buy another one. They won’t keep it around long and white shirts have a way of getting old or stained. It’s not something you’ll ever tire of, or will be out of fashion. Don’t even alternate them now, just know that you have a backup.

    1. Or even two more. Great suggestion.
      Last fall, I bought 3 charcoal l/s T- shirts. I regret not buying more, as I wear them nearly all the time. I know, T´s are much less expensive.

  13. It looks like a wonderful shirt…I would have to budget for it, but sounds like it would be worth it. A great fit, crisp white shirt like this is invaluable!

  14. Well, since you asked, today I wore a sleeveless, princess seamed white eyelet shirt from Ann Taylor, which has been hiding in my closet for several years. Since I’ve lost a lot of weight in the past year, I’ve been “shopping my closet” recently to see what fits again, and is still in style. Was a bit reluctant about the sleeveless, but as long as I don’t wave to anybody…! It was 105 here today and my daughter & I went shopping at an outside shopping center (I know, but it was her only day off this week). I wore my white shirt with coral Bermudas and white sandals. Thought I looked pretty cute!

    I probably like the white shirt more in theory than in practice….I’m somewhat busty too, plus there is the “seatbelt crease” issue. Wish someone would design a shoulder belt that didn’t wrinkle my shirts! But I like the looks of your new shirt, Pseu; I have been pondering the online Lafayette catalogs for several months but haven’t bought yet. I am interested in their higher rise, side zip trousers, that’s a flattering style on me.

  15. On a completely unrelated note, I just now heard on the news that Nora Ephron is in the last stages of terminal leukemia. Such a tragedy! If nothing else, I loved her for the title of her book, “I Feel Bad About My Neck”. I felt so bad about my neck, I recently invested in Fraxel laser treatments, results pending. But now I just have to say, “I Feel Bad About Nora”. What a lovely, talented woman, and a voice for women of a certain age….

  16. I LOVE white shirts. I’ve decided that a white blouse is my stand-in for the white, cotton t-shirt which never look good on me. I just purchased a few from Brooks Brothers and “THE Shirt” so I’ll let you know what I think of those. Otherwise I wear Ann Taylor and J Crew. My big problem is the underarm yellowing. What do you do to avoid that?

    Thank you for the birthday wishes!


  17. Oh, boy, I’m trying to justify buying this shirt – I love it. Reasons not to: 1) of course I’m going to lose weight (how many times have I said that? 2) I’m going to retire in three years – will I need it then? etc. etc. Reasons to: 1) I love it 2) I love it 3) I love it and it’s SOOO classic! I’ve gotten so many great fashion ideas on this blog, it’s great. Thanks, Pseu!

  18. One of my biggest problems is moving from rack to dressing room with items that are a different style from what I usually wear. While I have different fit issues than you do I resolve to try a rouched blouse on, who knows maybe I’ll like it!

    I wouldn’t let the price of the blouse stand in the way of trying out the style. I’ve seen that button-down w/gathers type in many price points. Of course the everyday Macy’s model isn’t as perfectly made or soft, but if it flatters it’ll do it’s job.

    A lot of times I don’t need a fat wallet, I need a nudge.

  19. Hooray! What a nice shirt!

    I wear Naracamicie, Anne Fontaine, Ann Mashburn, you name it:). Dobbin Clothing has also started up and offer a nice white top, especially for those who like a long tail.

  20. I am humbled to have inspired you, deja. Crisp white shirts are a signature look for my style.

    Lafayette 148 is a great brand and I have a few clients in that exact same white shirt actually. It fits beautifully over a full bust and tapers in at the waist. I bet it looks just perfect on you :). Enjoy wearing it!

    1. angie, you do such a great job of putting together looks that are simple and wearable, yet visually interesting. You’ve helped steer me back toward what you term “Modern Classic” in a big way! BTW, do you have any other recommendations for button front shirts for the full-busted among us?

  21. Outstanding look for you. I, too, am short and busty, so thank you! Quick question for you: Love love love the pearls. Where can I get them?

  22. I love this look, but have the same short-and-busty issue, which makes a white blouse and dark bottom not helpful! And of course, the fit of the shirt is always problematic.

    A few years back Ann Taylor Petites had a version of this shirt which I snagged in white, black and a stunning cornflower blue. For me, the white only works if I’m wearing a jacket, but the blue or black versions work well on their own with dark pants or paired over a fitted top and pencil skirt, and worn open almost like a jacket.

    (Diminutive and busty is a real challenge… )

  23. I love Lafayette 148–even more when it’s on sale, but the cut and drape of the fabric are great for women with curves. I’ll have to check this shirt out!

  24. I have ten. Some very tailored looking, others casual. Some have a discreet frill, french cuffs, three-quarter sleeves, gathering, ruching. There aren’t too many ocassions when a white shirt won’t carry the day.