The White Shirt

A picture of a man wearing White Shirt

It was created by our very own Thomas Mayes Lewin in 1898, and has only taken the world by storm since.

As Justin Bieber could tell you, tomato sauce is no friend of the white shirt. “Yes, I took my first date to a buffet restaurant,” the popstar once recounted. “Yes, I wore a white shirt. Yes, I got spaghetti.”

But it's readiness to show any kind of mess was exactly the point. Starting life as an undergarment, right up until the early-to-mid 20th century and the advent of machine-washing, white shirts were pricey to wear because you had to change them daily. Wearing one became a badge of honour; proof that you’ve put a lot of work into maintaining it's crisp, spotless appearance. Fast forward to today and the story hasn’t changed; a professional white shirt has remained an effortless way of showing the world you mean business.

Thomas Watson, the founder of IBM, embraced the classic white shirt's ability to present a ‘nothing to hide’ trustworthiness. In fact, many big companies recognise the way it symbolises professionalism and self-worth, and have insisted their staff wear white shirts as a result.

Max Performance Classic Collar Shirt Max Performance Classic Collar Shirt

Another failsafe benefit of the classic white shirt is that it simply looks good on everyone. It’s a more formal take on the undeniably cool white T-shirt, which James Dean as a grown-up Jim Stark might have worn if ‘Rebel Without A Cause’ had ever had a sequel. Yet, despite its ability to smarten up your appearance in the boardroom, you don’t necessarily have to make the switch to a T-shirt to take things down a notch for more relaxed working days.

With its unlimited casual-to-formal style potential, the white shirt has the power to traverse every dress code. By simply leaving the top buttons undone or opting for denim over suit separates, you can easily pare it back for after-work dinners with colleagues or weekends abroad, enjoying tapas on the Riviera. Considering its current status as an iconic item of simplicity and versatility, it’s no surprise that there isn't a designer alive who doesn’t wish they had invented the white shirt. We have our very own Thomas Mayes Lewin to thank for that.

Unfortunately, it still doesn’t sit well with the sloppy eaters of the world, or the black suit and white-shirted gangsters of ‘Reservoir Dogs’ (who no doubt discovered, when it came to laundry day, of blood-letting either). But when you know it is a surefire way of looking good, caution is a fair price to pay in order to enjoy menswear’s most iconic piece.

Non-Iron Light Blue Twill Shirt

Non-Iron White Twill Classic Collar Shirt

Non-Iron Pink Twill Shirt

Max Performance White Twill Cutaway Collar Shirt

Non-Iron Light White Twill Shirt

Max Performance White Twill Classic Collar Shirt

Back to blog