L'absolu pouvoir de la chemise blanche

The absolute power of the white shirt

Read time 3

More than a classic, an essential. A cult piece constantly reinvented, it is the blank canvas on which to paint your own style. Decryption of an essential and universal garment.

Originally, white

The history of the shirt dates back to Antiquity, to Roman times. But it was only at the end of the 19th century that it adopted its current form and use. The complete biography of the shirt will not be covered here, but it is important to understand its use in the Middle Ages in order to better understand the symbolic dimension of the color white – and therefore of the white shirt .

Before the industrial revolution and fast fashion, people had few clothes, and these were primarily intended to resist and adapt to weather conditions. The thickness or lightness of these clothes make them relatively difficult to wash, especially since access to hygiene was not as obvious as it is today.
The shirt appears at this time as the solution, an easier-to-maintain underwear.

It must be added to this that for centuries, all fabrics in direct contact with the body (sheets, bathroom linen and… underwear) had to be white, for reasons of hygiene (black symbolizing dirt) but above all for practical reasons: fabrics were boiled to wash them and they (often made of linen, hemp or wool) tended to lose their color. White ultimately revealed itself as the most stable and durable color.

Classic among classics

Timeless, it crosses the ages by constantly adapting, transforming according to trends. The white shirt is a medium of choice for expressing your creativity, like a blank page on which everything remains to be written. An emblem of casual chic from the moment you open two buttons. Professional uniform with a plain, silky tie : from underwear, it has become a symbol of virility, power and French elegance.
The white shirt is a masculine universe that women appropriate in the same way as pants at the time of sexual liberation, thus claiming their right to equality.

It is invited to religious and political ceremonies, finds its place everywhere and all year round, from powerpoint presentations to Eyes Wide Shut atmosphere evenings. She allows herself all the accessories, highlighting the other colors without losing her own shine.

The white shirt is universal, rubbing shoulders with gentlemen in impeccable tuxedos or dressing the most nonchalant artists.

White, symbol of the essential

White, the color of the essential and of absolute perfection. The oldest color, since at the origin of the world, that of primordial light. Fascinating for its symbolic universality, representing life, the innocence of the newborn, purity in religion, but also death, like the white beard of the old man and his mystical wisdom. Since the Hundred Years' War, a white flag has been waved to demand an end to hostilities, a new symbol of peace and, more generally, of good.
These symbols, extremely strong and recurring in European societies, nourish the collective imagination almost everywhere in the world.

How to wear the white shirt today?

The essential piece of men's wardrobe is the shirt. White of course, but which can go just as well with a suit as with jeans. It is one of the fundamentals to have and must therefore be chosen carefully: cut, material (natural, obviously) and collar must be observed carefully.

As for style, it's a much easier affair: with a tie for work, one or two open buttons for a casual evening, a bow tie for a celebration, the white shirt allows for all the accessories and patterns.
With a structured jacket like a leather jacket, cold wool pants or raw sea salt washed jeans, it adapts seamlessly to any style.

Articles that might interest you