Leave it to Meghan Markle to demonstrate the versatility of a white button-down shirt. We all have one lingering in the back of our closet, but far too often we write it off as work attire when it’s actually one of the most season-less, versatile and flattering styles we own. Over the years, Markle has worn the wardrobe staple time and time again, proving that it’s a must-have in any closet—the devil’s just in the styling details. Here, the five rules of wearing a white button-down according to one of our style icons, Meghan Markle.
The 5 Rules of Wearing a White Button-Down, According to Meghan Markle
1. Never Underestimate The Power Of The French Tuck
For the uninitiated, the French tuck is the art of stylishly tucking the front of one’s shirt into your pants while leaving the back untucked and loose. This gives you a waist, but at the same time keeps your look relaxed. The core ingredients are simple: denim, a button-down that’s been properly pressed (we’d like to recommend this hand steamer) and any combination of accessories. (To get it right, make sure to smooth out any wrinkles so the tucked-in part lays flat beneath your jeans and doesn’t add bulk.)
Shop similar styles: AYR Button-Down ($135); Mother Jeans ($238); Finlay Sunglasses ($225)
2. An Untucked Button-down Is Perfect For Layering Under A Blazer Or A Coat
Yes, the French tuck is sleek, but so is letting the shirt hang loose under a blazer or a jacket to deliver a casual yet polished vibe. Just make sure whatever jacket you add extends past the hem of your shirt—i.e. no peek-a-boo hems at the back—and stick to more fitted bottoms, lest the overall vibe feel too oversized and slightly sloppy.
Shop similar styles: Grayson Button-Down ($132); Nordstrom Blazer ($179); Madewell Jeans ($128); Nisolo Boots ($220)
3. Size Up For A Breezier Look
This isn’t quite a white button-down, but the style advice is clear: A looser fit is often a more flattering one. Here’s why: You never want a button-down to gape or feel restrictive, and since the material is often gauzy and lightweight—especially summer versions of the shirt—a relaxed fit makes it feel breezier, too. A few tips for styling a looser shirt without drowning in fabric: Tuck it in (fully or French-style), keep your proportions in check with fitted pants or shorts on bottom or fold up the sleeves to break up all the material with a hint of forearm.
Shop similar styles: Yaitte Button-Down ($260); Reformation Pants ($178); L.K. Bennett Hat ($180); Polène Purse ($420)
4. Add A Belt (or A Belted Effect) To Give It A Waist
No, it’s not breaking the rules to tuck your white button-down shirt fully in, but adding a belt—or bottoms with a contrasting band around the waist—can do wonders in terms of highlighting (or faking) an hourglass silhouette. In Markle’s case, the bold black waist cinch came courtesy of her midi skirt, but it also shows the versatility of the button-down and its ability to be dressed up or down.
Shop similar styles: Wilfred Button-Down ($88); Me + Em Skirt ($295); Le Specs Sunglasses ($69)
5. Remember, The Sleeve Roll Is A Science, Not An Art
When it comes to pulling off a plain white shirt as fabulously as Markle, the devil’s in the details, and that applies the most to the way you roll your sleeves. With a button-down, precision matters and, while it’s tempting to simply cinch them up and go, there are a variety of ways to perfect your cuff—for example, this messy version, courtesy of one of Markle’s beloved designers—but you gotta put the effort in to get it right.
Shop similar styles: Everlane Button-Down ($150); Madewell Shorts ($75 $60); Nine West Pumps ($89); Cult Gaia Clutch ($428); Frye Belt ($58)