Can a White Shirt Transform Your Look?

Skirt: Craven (Consignment) | Belt: Vintage (C. Madeleine's) | White Shirt: Q. Mack (Macy's) | Shoes: Christian Loubitain (Saks Fifth Avenue) | Clutch:  Marie Turnor
Skirt: Craven (Consignment) | Belt: Vintage (C. Madeleine's) | White Shirt: Q. Mack (Macy's) | Shoes: Christian Loubitain (Saks Fifth Avenue) | Clutch:  Marie Turnor
Skirt: Craven (Consignment) | Belt: Vintage (C. Madeleine’s) | White Shirt: QMack (Macy’s) | Shoes: Christian Loubitin (Saks Fifth Avenue) | Clutch: Marie Turnor

There are the fashionista factions who will advise you to spend as much as you can on your wardrobe basics.

I am not one of them.

Today’s theme is the white shirt, the queen of all wardrobe basics. The variety in price is astounding.  First up is the white Oxford, a working woman’s uniform. At the high-end of the spectrum is Carven’s version for $295, and this Burberry design, which will set you back $375. On the flip side, The Gap promises the “perfect shirt” for just $29.95.

I spent even less. I nabbed this QMack button up during Black Friday fever, and once the applicable discounts and coupons were tabulated, it cost $10. I can’t distinguish between the cheaper versions and the stuff from Savile Row — both versions can be ruined by spaghetti sauce just as easily.

Quirky details can soup up anything, including a $10 button-up. Belt: Vintage (C. Madeleine's) | Skirt: Carven (Consignment) | Shoes: Christian Loubitain (Saks Fifth Avenue) | Clutch: Marie Turnor
Quirky details can soup up anything, including a $10 button-up. Belt: Vintage (C. Madeleine’s) | Skirt: Carven (Consignment) | Shoes: Christian Loubitin (Saks Fifth Avenue) | Clutch: Marie Turnor

Next, let’s look at the white T-shirt, another clothing category that confounds the pricing matrix. Prices start at $10 near the Costco freezer section, but the most expensive versions all seem to be helmed by celebrities. There’s the $90 white T-shirt brought to you by Gwyneth Paltrow’s Goop. Kanye West collaborated with A.P.C. for this $120 T-shirt.

But the worst celebrity offenders are the Olsen Twins, who concocted this $280 T-shirt for The Row.

Well, guess what I found in consignment over the weekend?

T-Shirt: The Row (Consignment) | Skirt: Craven (Consignment) | Slip-Ons: Missoni (Consignment)
T-Shirt: The Row (Consignment) | Skirt: Carven (Consignment) | Slip-Ons: Missoni (Consignment)

I nabbed my Row T-shirt with an 82% discount — a crowning consignment achievement. But my little experiment proved that a white shirt is a white shirt, no matter who its maker is. Its true value is not the label, but its transformative powers: These two shirts toggled my outfit from boardroom to beach in as many seconds as it took to change shoes.

My verdict? The white shirt may be worthy of its cult-like worship, but don’t get too attached to your beloved basics: Sweat stains happen to EVERYONE, no matter what price you pay.