Expert Gail Rolfe shares the fashionable versatility to wearing a simple white shirt.

There are so many iconic style references to the classic white shirt, it’s hard to know where to start. There was the quite unforgettable moment at the 1998 Oscars ceremony, when actress Sharon Stone wore a white shirt from Gap with a lavender satin evening skirt by Vera Wang. Or the moment when Kim Basinger provocatively appeared wearing Mickey Rourke’s white shirt in 9½ Weeks, and more recently the first appearance of Meghan Markle with Prince Harry wearing her aptly named, “husband shirt”, designed by friend Misha Nonoo.

For so many women, a classic mannish shirt has long been part of their wardrobe. But in recent years, the remit of the ubiquitous shirt has grown exponentially. There are so many variations on a theme it is hard to keep up — shirts with ruffles, plunging V-necks, waterfall folds, mandarin collars, grandad collars, oversized shirts, embroidered shirts, as well as the utterly simple masculine classic.

The shops or websites where you will be spoilt for choice are Arket, Cos, Massimo Dutti, Zara, WNU, a favourite of the Duchess of Sussex, Boden and Ralph Lauren. But of course, there is always opportunity to raid your husband or boyfriend’s wardrobe.

Shirt, £55, Arket

Leave the cuffs unfastened and peeking out from the sweater.

white shirt

Shirt, £59, Cos 

Starting with a simple, unfussy utilitarian bib front shirt slashed at the front, the mood here is rural meets city. It’s stylish, yet practical and so right for now. Add a check blazer is worn with the oh-so comfy stretch black jeans.

Shirt, £149, Ralph Lauren

Here the white shirt is slightly dressier and maybe even more feminine, with red embroidery at the cuffs and across the collar at the back, full sleeves and a curved collar. I love the idea of dressing this shirt up with the khaki slim cropped trousers, but it would be just as striking worn with faded blue jeans in the spring and summer months.