Menu Close

The Power of a White Shirt

Long ago I worked for the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising – FIDM – in Los Angeles. I loved the job but I was very young and had many more paths the travel. It was there that I fell in love with white dress shirts. I loved to wear them – all kinds from silks to linens and I loved to see men in them. I had an “ex” actually question why I wore white so much. “You’re not exactly pure, you know.”  LOL. The irony. Any impurities I had at that time, I pretty much learned from him!

The classic white formal shirt, for both men and women, can be seen as a mirror to map considerable social change and the diversity of influence can be traced through many examples, including: Beau Brummel’s dandy status; the Gibson Girl with her decorated white shirt style blouse defining ideals of female beauty; IBM business employees in the early years equated with marketing trustworthiness; the fictional advertising creation of the Arrow Collar Man promoting American masculine ideals; and the iconic 1980’s Hugo Boss style crisp white dress shirt symbolizing power. Actresses Marilyn Monroe, Audrey Hepburn, Grace Kelly and Katherine Hepburn filled out white shirts as did Diane Keaton in Annie Hall, Uma Thurman in Pulp Fiction, and Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman.

In the same way that all colors have associative links with certain feelings and traditions, the color white has unique psychological associations. While the color white is, from a scientific perspective, an achromatic color made up of an equal balance between all colors on the spectrum, it is also the symbol of balance, wholeness and completion. White has also been linked to purity, innocence, equality, and new beginnings. Modern views have bent this symbol now and the white shirt can be seen as a powerful marker of positive and enlightened social shifts.

From my new series: Now Playing
Buy from Gallery:  Feminine Mystique Art Gallery, Tubac AZ