5 Chic (& Cool) Ways to Style a White Button-Up This Summer, According to a Stylist

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Rachel Bowie

It’s summer’s most quintessential shirt: The white button-up is the item in our closets that we reach for the most, whether the weather is breezy or scorching hot. Part of is the color. It literally deflects heat. But it’s also a style workhorse where, even if we have to devote minutes to ironing or steaming it just to get it in peak summer shape, it comes across as effortless and chic. Classic, too. (Hey, there’s a reason its shelf life has stretched from Marilyn Monroe to Princess Diana to Gwyneth Paltrow and beyond.)

Still, a throw-on-and-go top like this can be something we start to take for granted, which is why we consulted a stylist for ways to reinvent the white button-up for summer 2023.

Meet the Expert

Rachel Newman is a New York-based stylist, wardrobe consultant and trend forecaster. Her work has been featured in The Hollywood Reporter, People and USA Today.

How to Choose the Right Button-Down

The devil’s in the details, as they say—and not all white button-up shirts are created equal. (In fact, there’s quite a range when it comes to quality and price.) Still, the main aspects you’ll want to look out for include the fit of the bust (it should allow room to breathe without creating any gap) as well as a hemline that falls fairly evenly at the front and back. (Bonus points if it’s bum-covering.)

Button placement also matters. You should avoid a shirt that has buttons that hit right below your chest and right above. Instead, look for a button-up where the button falls directly in line with your bust.

The 5 Rules of Wearing a White Button-Down, According to Meghan Markle

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Rachel Bowie

1. For a Daytime Look, Pair with Denim Cut-Offs

Your Saturday itinerary? Brunch, then beach. Even though your itinerary says relax, Newman says a linen button-up is the right choice and one that looks just put together enough. Her advice? French tuck it into a pair of denim cut-offs, then add a flat slide, raffia tote, straw hat and sunglasses. “It’s the perfect combination of calm and sophistication,” Newman adds.

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Rachel Bowie

2. For Night, Opt for Darker Denim

Elevate your button-up for a summer night out by pairing it with wide-leg denim in a darker wash, says Newman. The next step: Accessorize, but keep things simple. A strappy, heeled sandal, a clutch and a statement earring demonstrate effort while keeping things classic and clean. “If it gets chilly, throw a blazer over your shoulders,” Newman suggests.

white button up linen on linen
Rachel Bowie

3. Pair Linen with Linen

This one is a favorite summer look of Newman’s. She tells us you can’t go wrong pairing a white linen pant or pair of short with a matching white linen button-up. It’s comfortable and breathable for one, but the matchy-matchy fabric moves and drapes in unison for an added chic effect. Add a tote, a flat slide and a pair of sunglasses for a daytime al fresco lunch. Per Newman, this is a look that also works for night if you swap the slide for a strappy heel and statement jewelry.

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Rachel Bowie

4. Just Add White Denim

This pairing has a polished and casual feel and is probably one of the easier looks to recreate based on what you already have in your closet: a button-up that’s half-tucked into a pair of white jeans. Throw a sweater over your shoulders and add a sandal with a heel and it’s one of the most versatile options for summer, says Newman.

white button up skirt
Rachel Bowie

5. Wear It Open as an Overshirt

For a look that feels dressy enough for work, but also keeps you cool in the summer heat. Pair a neutral colored silk or satin maxi skirt with a tank of the same color tucked in, then throw a white button-up on over it, says Newman. “If you want, you can button one or two of the top buttons to give it a more tailored feel,” she adds. To finish, add a strappy sandal—flat or with a heel—statement sunglasses and a top handle handbag.

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Royal family expert, a cappella alum, mom

Rachel Bowie is Senior Director of Special Projects & Royals at PureWow, where she covers parenting, fashion, wellness and money in addition to overseeing initiatives within...