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Best White Button-Down Shirts for Women: 10 Classic Options for Every Style

Best White Button Down Shirts for Women
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Updated December 17, 2023

Women’s white button-down shirts have been a staple in well-appointed wardrobes for decades due to the apparel’s versatility and classic appeal. This menswear-inspired basic is an easily adoptable favorite of fashion icons like Audrey Hepburn, Princess Diana, and Carolyn Bassett Kennedy.

“Marie Antoinette wore it,” shares Jessie Frances, a luxury fashion resale expert, sustainable stylist and fashion historian. “White shirts historically signified wealth and status. Only those who had domestic staff could afford to wear white shirts because they needed to be washed frequently,” she adds. “Until this day, white shirts still subconsciously equate to wealth, i.e, 'white collar' professions."

Although it has evolved, there is something for everyone in the timeless appeal of white button-downs, whether you are borrowing (forever) your boyfriend's (or girlfriend’s) slightly oversized oxford for a slouchy, sexy look or wearing a crisp, tailored white blouse to work. These shirts work in various ways, depending on what you are pairing with them.

What to consider when buying a white button-down shirt

It is easy to get overwhelmed when shopping for a white button shirt because there are many options. In order to narrow it down, I asked fashion experts what you should ask yourself before purchasing this classic piece for your wardrobe. Frances says button placement (“to prevent bust gaps”), collar height and stiffness (“if you wear makeup),” and length (“will you wear tucked out or un-tucked?”) are all important to keep in mind.

How does it fit?

When shopping for a white button-down shirt, make sure the button placement allows for a smooth line because if they are not placed properly, you will have a weird gap in the chest area. Frances suggests looking for princess seams in the tailoring because those cater to women’s curves and darts, which give you a little more room to breathe across the chest.

“Sometimes, you want a menswear-inspired shirt, but the oversized fit isn’t flattering, or you need a more feminine white button-down with ruffles or a more flattering neckline,” suggests Frances. “I tell my clients that classic for one person may not be for you, but a classic white button-down can be tailored to your body and lifestyle.”

If you want a longer shirt to work, say, as a cover-up, you might want a less fitted button-down that has longer tails in the back. Some button-downs are boxy and cropped, and others are designed to be tailored like menswear but oversized to look like you borrowed it from your boyfriend. Check sleeve length as well. Some shirts have cuffs that can be rolled up, and others may have more fitted sleeves that are harder to push up your arm. “With a cotton button-down, I like it to be as simple and versatile as possible. So, there are no details and neutral buttons. I think this is the most long-lasting style,” says Elisabeth Kassab, fashion stylist and founder of STYLISTCHECK.

What material is it made out of?

You can buy white button-down shirts in many fabrics, but cotton, linen and silk are classics. Oxford cloth and poplin are often a bit stiffer material than lightweight cotton. Linen may feel a bit scratchy to some wearers, but it will get more comfortable over time, as well. Some white button-downs are made of lighter-weight cotton or other fabric that may be sheer in natural light. Check your white shirt in daylight if you are worried about the see-through factor. Overall, buy what material feels most comfortable on your skin.

What’s my style?

There are so many ways to wear a white button-down shirt. Consider how it is designed and if it fits into your daily wardrobe. “For example, if you have a white shirt with a high collar, check to see if your makeup will smudge off on it,” suggests Frances. “Make sure you like the collar and cuffs, and check for other details, like the length of the shirt. Because there are so many variations of the classic white shirt, you should always consider the best one for your style.”

In addition, consider where you live or where you are traveling. In cooler weather, a silk or heavier cotton button-down might be a better bet, whereas lightweight cotton and linen shirts are great for warmer weather.

Our picks for the best white button-down shirts for women

Best white button-down shirt for work: J.Crew Slim Fit Stretch Cotton Poplin

J.Crew’s white shirts have always been in rotation in my (and many others) closets over the years. I love this slim-fit stretch cotton poplin because it skims the body and isn’t sheer in the light. Made from organic cotton poplin with a scoop (2%) of stretchy elastane, it is a great choice to wear under a blazer where the menswear-inspired cuffs can peek out. I found I needed to size up to get a good fit, and others who tried it on mentioned this as well. I love that you can monogram the shirt for a preppy twist, and its interior chambray piping and blue button thread give it a slightly vintage, “I borrowed it from my grandfather,” charm.

Specifications:

  • Sizes: 00 - 24
  • Fabric: 98% organic cotton/2% elastane
  • Fit: Slim fit
  • Price on publish: $34.50-$79.99

Pros:

  • Range of sizes
  • You can monogram it

Cons:

  • A little tight across the bust, so you may need a size up

The bottom line:

This white button-down is a slim-cut fit, so it looks professional and polished under a blazer or on its own. It’s menswear-inspired tailoring at its best.

Best white button-down shirt for work
J.Crew Slim Fit Stretch Cotton Poplin

J.Crew Slim Fit Stretch Cotton Poplin

Best oversized white button-down: Boden Oversized White Shirt

British-based Boden doesn’t mince words with its offering of an oversized white shirt. If you want a loose-fitting, comfortable white button-down, this is a great choice. Lightweight cotton made for layering over tees and tanks, it is slouchy (goes down to mid-thigh, a little longer on some (like me) without being sloppy. But make sure to check your sizing. This is an oversized item, so if you don’t want to drown in it, you may want to order a size smaller than your usual one.

Specifications:

  • Sizes: 2 - 20/22
  • Fabric: 90% cotton, 10% metalized fiber
  • Fit: Extremely oversized
  • Price on publish: $95

Pros:

  • Good for wearing over slim-fit trousers or leggings
  • It can be used as a cover-up

Cons:

  • It may be too big for petite frames

The bottom line:

This oversized white button-down is made from high-quality and comfortable cotton but consider sizing down if you want it slightly less roomy.

Best cropped white button-down shirt: Everlane’s The Silky Cotton Way-Short Shirt

Everlane’s The Silky Cotton Way-Short Shirt

Everlane has made one of the most comfortable white button-downs I’ve tried on over the years. It was, as promised, “very cropped,” so if you are in the market for the white button-down equivalent of the little black dress, this is it. It pairs well with high-waisted pants or jeans because of the short length, and I loved the point collar and patch pocket.

In my opinion, next to the extremely soft material, its best feature was its fit across the chest. It buttoned without gaps, and after wearing it all day, it remained unopened and unwrinkled. It is very, very cozy on the skin, and while it works best for daytime, it would be so comfy to wear in bed with a pair of pajama bottoms. Yes, it is that comfortable.

Specifications:

  • Sizes: XXS - XL
  • Fabric: 100% cotton yarn in a soft twill weave
  • Fit: Skims the body
  • Price on publish: $88

Pros:

  • Extremely comfortable
  • No gaps in the front

Cons:

  • It is a short crop, so if you want more length, try another Everlane shirt

The bottom line:

This is a loose-fit, extremely comfortable cropped white button-down that doesn’t easily wrinkle that looks best with high-waisted pants or jeans.

Best cropped white button-down shirt
Women's Silky Cotton Way-Short Shirt by Everlane in White, Size M

Women's Silky Cotton Way-Short Shirt by Everlane in White, Size M

Best white button-down shirt for bigger busts and plus sizes: Universal Standard's Elbe Popover Liquid Jersey Shirt Classic Fit

Universal Standard's Elbe Popover Liquid Jersey Shirt Classic Fit

This is a riff on a classic white button-down and comes in an easy-to-wear, popover style with a half placket of buttons or a full placket if you prefer a more traditional button-down shirt. I tried the half-placket style and loved the drape and its body-skimming design. It allowed me to move around all day without feeling constricted, and it’s wrinkle-resistant. It is also ideal for women with larger busts because of the discrete snaps between buttons that guarantee your shirt will stay closed. This gets my vote for the best button-down shirt for larger sizes due to Universal Standard’s commitment to making size-inclusive, high-quality clothing.

Specifications:

  • Sizes: 00/0 - 38/40
  • Fabric: 95% rayon and 5% elastane
  • Fit: Body skimming with room to move
  • Price on publish: $94

Pros:

  • Wrinkle resistant
  • Buttons and snaps for optimal closure

Cons:

  • It is less traditional than a typical white cotton button-down

The bottom line:

An alternative to a cotton white button-down, this body-skimming and comfortable shirt provides snaps and buttons for a great fit across the bust, and its wrinkle-free material makes it great for work, travel, and play.

Best for bigger busts and plus sizes
Universal Standard's Elbe Popover Liquid Jersey Shirt Classic Fit

Universal Standard's Elbe Popover Liquid Jersey Shirt Classic Fit

Best white linen button-down shirt: Quince 100% European Linen Long Sleeve Shirt

Quince 100% European Linen Long Sleeve Shirt

White linen button-downs are the workhorses of summer travel, and this fabric doesn’t disappoint. It rumples but remains chic and can be worn alone or as an extra layer. It is 100% European flax so it may feel scratchy to some wearers. I wore it both ways (the fabric felt fine on my skin), and the shirt had enough room (slightly oversized) to wear over a tank top, thin t-shirt, or a bathing suit. And because it is Quince, you know it will be made from quality and eco-friendly materials for an affordable price, like most things they sell.

Specifications:

  • Sizes: XS - XL
  • Fabric: 100% European flax linen
  • Fit: Loose/slightly oversized
  • Price on publish: $39.90

Pros:

  • Affordable linen
  • Easy to use as a top layer or on its own

Cons:

  • Some people may find 100% flax a little scratchy

The bottom line:

This lovely shirt is made from 100% European flax and looks much more expensive than it costs.

Best white linen button-down shirt
100% European Linen Long Sleeve Shirt

100% European Linen Long Sleeve Shirt

Best white silk button-down shirt: Everlane’s The Clean Silk Relaxed Shirt

Everlane’s clean, relaxed silk shirt should be a staple if you are looking for a comfortable and classy silk blouse that drapes like a dream. Offered in a variety of colors, the off-white version looks good untucked with comfy jeans or under a blazer at the office. It has a traditional pointed color borrowed from the boys but has a rounded hem—a bonus point for being made of eco-friendly silk fabric at an affordable price, too.

Specifications:

  • Sizes: 00 - 16
  • Fabric: Eco-conscious clean silk
  • Fit: Relaxed fit
  • Price on publish: $150

Pros:

  • Affordable silk

Cons:

  • Off-white color only
  • It doesn’t come in sizes bigger than extra large

The bottom line:

Everlane does it again with its body-skimming, eco-friendly, clean silk shirt that drapes beautifully on the body and looks polished tucked in or out of your favorite skirts, jeans or pants.

Best white silk button-down shirt
Women's Washable Clean Silk Relaxed Shirt by Everlane in Off White, Size 2

Women's Washable Clean Silk Relaxed Shirt by Everlane in Off White, Size 2

Best boxy white button-down shirt: Mango Cropped Cotton Shirt

Mango Cropped Cotton Shirt

This shirt was a little too short for my taste and midline, but it is worth it if you love a boxy cut. This on-trend white button-down is a crop top for your favorite high-waisted pants or jeans. Extremely soft and not too sheer, I plan to pass it on to my crop-top-loving friend.

Specifications:

  • Sizes: 2 - 8
  • Fabric: 73% cotton, 24% polyamide, 3% elastane
  • Fit: Boxy and cropped
  • Price on publish: $49.99

Pros:

  • Trendy
  • Soft and not too sheer

Cons:

  • Very short
  • Limited sizing

The bottom line:

If you want a white button-down that is boxy and cropped, this shirt from Mango checks those boxes.

Best boxy white button-down shirt
MANGO - Cropped cotton shirt white - 2 - Women

MANGO - Cropped cotton shirt white - 2 - Women

Best budget white button-down shirt: Amazon Essentials Classic Fit Long Sleeve Button-Down Poplin Shirt

If you want an affordable white button-down and need it quickly, Amazon Essentials has you covered, in style. Simple and classic, I found this poplin shirt to be slightly oversized and comfortable due to its box-pleated back, yoke and nice cut across the bust. It has a classic shirt collar and cuffs. I would likely wear this casually or throw over my bathing suit in the summertime.

Specifications:

  • Sizes: XS - XXL
  • Fabric: 100% cotton
  • Fit: Relaxed fit but not oversized
  • Price on publish: $25.60

Pros:

  • Affordable
  • Material gets softer each wash

Cons:

  • Not as polished as some other choices

The bottom line:

This is an affordable and comfortable white button-down shirt that works best for casual, everyday wear.

Best budget white button-down shirt
Amazon Essentials Women's Classic-Fit Long-Sleeve Button-Down Poplin Shirt, White, X-Large

Amazon Essentials Women's Classic-Fit Long-Sleeve Button-Down Poplin Shirt, White, X-Large

Best designer white button-down shirt: Frank & Eileen's Relaxed Button-Up Shirt

If you can afford it, Frank & Eileen’s relaxed white cotton button-down is not only the definition of quiet luxury, but it is also endorsed by celebrities, who swear by it. This shirt comes in various fabrics, from cotton to denim, depending on your white button-down mood. The classic lightweight cotton version is relaxed yet beautifully tailored (and yes, the website touting its “bust flattering button placement” is true) and immediately whispers old-school elegance. And at a time when cropped tops are everywhere, I love the bum-skimming shirttail.

Specifications:

  • Sizes: XXS - XL
  • Fabric: 100% cotton
  • Fit: Relaxed fit
  • Price on publish: $238

Pros:

  • Beautifully tailored
  • Longer shirttail

Cons:

  • Expensive

The bottom line:

This high-end shirt is perfection in a white-button down form that drapes beautifully and is soft on the skin.

Best designer white button-down shirt
Frank & Eileen's Relaxed Button-Up Shirt

Frank & Eileen's Relaxed Button-Up Shirt

Best short-sleeved white button-down shirt: Ralph Lauren Linen Dolman Sleeve Shirt

Ralph Lauren understands classic style, and this linen, dolman sleeve white button-down is a perfect example of an understated style. If you want a white button-down for summer, this menswear-inspired linen shirt has feminine touches like short dolman sleeves, double-rolled cuffs, and a high-low hemline.

Specifications:

  • Sizes: XXS - XXL
  • Fabric: Linen
  • Fit: Body skimming

Pros:

  • Great design touches

Cons:

  • Expensive
  • Dry clean

The bottom line:

This short-sleeved, breathable linen button-down is an understated classic from Ralph Lauren inspired by menswear but with dolman sleeves and a high-low hemline.

Best short-sleeved white button-down shirt
Ralph Lauren Linen Dolman Sleeve Shirt

Ralph Lauren Linen Dolman Sleeve Shirt

How to style a white button-down shirt

There are many different ways to style a white button-down shirt, depending on its fit, material and design. “For work, I love it tucked into black, wide-leg trousers and cinched at the waist with a patent leather belt and a kitten heel,” shares Kassab. “For daytime, I would take inspiration from Princess Diana and wear jeans, a belt and whatever shoes you're comfortable in. Lastly, for a date night, I would tuck the button down into a mini skirt and do heels. You can dress this up with jewels.”

Additionally, an oversized white button-down shirt can work as a beach coverup and, in linen, can look good thrown over a t-shirt. There is no right or wrong way to style this iconic piece of clothing; just wear it in a way that feels good to you.

What to wear under a white button-down shirt

You can wear anything under a white button-down shirt. If oversized, a tank or tee shirt might be a good choice. A fitted button-down blouse might call for a camisole or bra in a flesh tone, although some experts, like Frances, say a black lacey bra can be a great accessory to a white button-down shirt on a date night.

How we selected the best white button-down shirts for women

I made our selections by trying on the items, combing customer reviews, and asking fashion experts, friends, and colleagues about the brands they love and the white button-downs they recommend and why.

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

What is the best material for a white button-down shirt?

It depends on who you ask! Some people like a great silk or satin button-down shirt, while others prefer a classic, menswear-inspired oxford cloth shirt. I personally find linen can be slightly too scratchy, but many others love it.

Find your favorite by trying on lots of different fabrics and narrow down from there, or better yet, get a couple of white button-down shirts in a variety of styles because this classic never goes out of style.

How do I clean a white button-down?

Read the directions on any garment, including a white button-down, before you throw it in the wash. Most white button-downs are made from pure cotton and linen, and these fabrics may shrink in the wash. Laundry experts recommend always pre-washing cotton and linen in cold water or washing by hand to avoid shrinkage.

How far do I button up?

If your white button-down shirt has a pointed menswear-inspired collar, you can button all the way up to the last one, but personally, I find this a bit constraining around the neck. You can button or unbutton as much as you feel comfortable wearing open. It's an aspect of the shirt’s versatility that you can. And if you want to wear it as a second layer, you may want to leave it unbuttoned completely.

What color bra is best for white shirts?

Frances recommends a flesh-toned colored bra under your white shirt unless you want to be daring when you can pair it with a lacey black bra that peeps out. Consider a hot pink or another bright color to add an element of surprise if the environment is appropriate, maybe more a friends' night out or a date than your office.

The information presented here is created independently from the TIME editorial staff. To learn more, see our About page.

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