ON WHITE SHIRTS
Guest written by Sean Hotchkiss
A rather nomadic photographer friend of mine once told me he’d always carry a clean, white, dress shirt in his backpack because he never knew who might invite him to dinner. Lovely advice, but not why I prefer white shirts. Jon Hamm as Don Draper taught us that a crisp white dress shirt could hide nearly every sin imaginable. A benefit, surely, but again not my reasoning.
I favor white dress shirts because they’re the very essence of what a shirt should be: a pristine canvas waiting to be interpreted by a colorful tie or a tweedy sports jacket. You see, a white shirt takes the guesswork out of clothing oneself each day — an attribute to strive for as one gets older and schedules become more complex. As a young intern I’d often get dressed in the dark, as not to wake my roommate, and a white shirt was the only base that ensured my suit would always work. White shirts are as simple as can be. They remove human error. I take mine in the Milanese fashion, with a high spread collar and trim proportions, and I buy them in pairs so I’m never without one. They jive with every single other piece of clothing I own. Nestled under a denim jacket, a white shirt is a sliver of refinement in an otherwise rugged look; paired with a black bowtie a white spread collar dress shirt is formal ready (without the need for studs). Did you know the very first “modern” Edwardian dress shirts were white? Now you do.
Whenever I wear a white dress shirt, someone stops me to say: “you look tan, were you just on vacation?” or “Are you doing SoulCycle?” No. I’ve figured out what works for me — plain vanilla. (And proud.)