Why I hate white shirts

So, remember on Saturday when I said it was do or die with that white button down shirt that had been wallowing in my closet for years? I decided I was going to try and wear that shirt so much that it would become a favorite.

I have worn it twice, and I am already despising this challenge. I know why, and it has nothing to do with the shirt itself.

For all the listicles that proclaim that every woman should have in her closet a LBD, black pumps and a white collared button down shirt (those are the three that always appear, with various other sundry must-haves as well), I just cannot get down with the white shirt.

Oh, sure, it looks great. Sure, it looks classy and adds a little casual but preppy je ne sais quoi to any outfit. Oh sure, on its own it looks crisp and layered it looks put together.

But darn it, wearing a white button down shirt is not for the faint of heart, nor for the slobs of the world, among which I grudgingly count myself.

Wardrobe storytelling

I have owned exactly four white button down shirts in my life. The first one was in high school. I had purchased it at Express. This is the white shirt that has made me believe that every woman should own one, and is the reason why I can’t give mine up, although my current iteration pales in comparison to the perfection of that first one.

That first white button down had an oversized collar and oversized cuffs. I mean, like, comically huge. But even in high school, I liked things to be a little unusual. I loved folding the collar and cuffs over a cardigan, that huge white collar making a real statement. I wore that thing all the time.

I wore it under a suit for a role in a play, and one night of the play, the blouse disappeared after a costume change. I have mourned that blouse ever since.

The second white blouse was one I purchased, yet again at Express, when I worked there during college. I can’t remember the occasion, but for some reason, we all had to wear one at work for something, and we got a special discount. It was a nice shirt. The fabric was a little stretchy, and it didn’t have to be ironed (I have never been a fan of ironing.) I loved wearing it under my purchased-at-Express sweaters (I had tons of them), and I really did think I looked put together.

However, I vaguely remember realizing that it was getting a little long in the tooth when I couldn’t remove the yellow stains from the armpits, making it unwearable alone. It was a very difficult decision to part with it, because I had enjoyed wearing it for so long.

The third white blouse didn’t come into my life until I was much older. It was a short, puffy sleeved little number with a Peter Pan collar. I loved that white blouse. I wore it until the armpits were irrecuperable.

And now, the current blouse.

Impractical, Impractical, Impractical

Whomever writes those listicles clearly does not have children. They also must never eat. They also must never drink coffee. They also must never cook. The risks to a white blouse are so many that there is no peace when wearing a white blouse.

There are few days in a week in which I do not spill, or do not have spilled upon me, my coffee or someone’s meal. Thus why I often wear dark colors or patterns. This became absurdly obvious to me while I kept my children at arm’s length for the two days I tried to wear that blouse.

Another problem is that white blouses, in my humble opinion, require laundering between wears (do not judge me: I do not always wash blouses or jeans or dresses after each wear unless they are stained or smell funny.) White blouses would do best to be ironed before each wear. White blouses are not to be worn while cooking. White blouses are not a good choice for crafting with markers.

I only do one load of whites each week, if that. Because I am generally in charge of the acquisition of my family’s wardrobe items, and because I am nothing if not practical, few and far between are our white items of clothing. There are a few socks, a few hand towels, a few rags, a few of my indulgent husband’s undershirts. We can go at least a week between washes for those. So should I want to wear the white blouse, it will have to wait at least that long between washes to be worn.

But here’s the catch: when something seems delicate like that to me, meaning, that it requires special care (a special wash cycle, or ironing, or that I be ultra-attentive to what I eat and how I eat it), then I am far less likely to reach for it in my closet.

While I may love how a white blouse looks, the inconveniences of not being able to live how I like to live outweigh the benefits.


Do you have wardrobe purgatory? Although I have worn every single regular item in my closet at least once in the last year, I do have a section I consider as purgatory. These are the items that I have to have an occasion to wear: I have a long, voluminous black skirt that I only wear for concerts in which I sing. These last twenty-months have not afforded me a concert to sing in, so that skirt still hangs there untouched, along with the velvet jacket I usually wear with it. I have a few gorgeous evening gowns, which again, require an occasion.

I am pretty sure that this white blouse is going to end up in purgatory. White blouses are such a conundrum: they really are a spectacular little workhorse item, but there is no way to wear them on a regular basis without ageing it, whether in pit stains or food stains, and they require an extra dose of care while being worn.

That white blouse wears me, instead of the other way around. And yet I cannot part with it.

And it is for this reason that I hate white blouses.

The alternatives

As I have been contemplating the usefulness of keeping around a blouse that wears me instead of the other way around, I realized that over the years, I have found my own workaround to the white blouse conundrum: the denim shirt. I have two denim shirts that I wear on repeat. One dark-ish, one light-ish (although I tried to darken it once with a Rit dye and left stains on it. Grrr. I wear It anyway.) I love my denim shirts, because they fill the same purpose as the white blouse, but I don’t feel like they require the same TLC.

Published by Lily Fields

I am passionate about contentment. This is a challenge, because I am equally passionate about progress. I get up at 4:00AM to chip away at a solution to this monolithic problem: how to make progress on my contentment. Born and raised in the USA, I married a French philosophy teacher in 1999. We have lived in France since 2007. We stayed young and carefree until life threw us two curveballs in the form of little humans one after another in 2015 and 2017 respectively. Now I am a slightly older, slightly more exhausted version of myself, but with mystery stains on my walls and a never-ending pile of laundry.

7 thoughts on “Why I hate white shirts

  1. Hmmm, here I’m gonna parrot you. “Don’t wait!! Get rid of them today!! Your future self will thank you!!
    You know you ain’t gonna wear it, c’mon now. Wave it g’bye. I hate white shirts for ALL the same reasons~~ PLUS, button down shirts are just a NO for me~~ If I ever wear one, which is never now, I have to sew it shut, cuz of the gap problem. WHY are large sizes just cut bigger?? They need to be designed specifically!! Just like the dang neck holes!! Just because I’m 50x bigger, does NOT mean my neck is 50 inches around~~


    1. I have given myself exactly the same advice, and yet there is stubborn me that just can’t. I can be so ruthless in other areas, but this one is tripping me up…that’s why I’m going to keep up the challenge to wear it as often as I can—I either wear it and ruin it, or I figure out how to wear it and not ruin it. Once it’s ruined, I’ll ditch it. Or, I’ll love it and wear it out. I hear you on plus sized clothes. How have they figured out maternity clothes, clothes that can only be worn for like 4 months of a persons life, but not plus size, which will be worn for life? Doesn’t make sense to me.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Well, I give you permission to give yourself grace. lol And you’ll be happy to know, I did indeed take those leggings to my Mama’s today, to give to my sister! Yay me!! Designers hate fat people is all i can figure. smh


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