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Why the white shirt remains a timeless wardrobe staple

Worn for your first day in the job to your last day in office, and all formal events in between, we look at the origins of this menswear essential – and we point you towards the brand we tend to fall back on

Much like a solid pair of selvedge denim jeans, a grey loopback sweatshirt, and some well-constructed Oxford shoes, the white dress shirt is an honest, modest wardrobe essential whose true attraction comes via its clean aesthetic that can complement a wide variety of menswear items, hues and patterns. And, it is this versatile appeal that provides it with a timeless, universal style that will serve you for decades to come, from your first day in the job to your last day in office, graduation to any dressed-up occasion in your latter years, and all formal events in between.

The origins of this menswear hero can be found in the Victorian epoch, a period in which this particular garment was used as a symbol of high status, with the common belief being that only the affluent could afford enough to wear on a regular basis, as well the price it cost to upkeep and maintain the colour to a pristine standard. Yet, by the end of the 19th century, this item of clothing became more democratic in its symbolism, due to it being more affordable and, therefore, more ubiquitous in society.

white Eton shirt backlit exposing all seams on a white and blue background

The following century, the white shirt eventually became a staple of the office – which was believed to be set in motion by IBM founder Thomas J. Watson, who mandated that it be part of his workforce’s daily uniform – before undergoing several modifications and alterations, from fabric to style, throughout the decades, most notably with the expressive frills and flowing silhouettes of the New Romantics of the early 1980s. Yet, even with these changes, and thanks, in part, to the rise of power dressing in the 1980s, the white shirt has largely retained its core spirit as a symbol of power, formality and serious-mindedness, with the item being favoured by innovators, intellectuals, and businessmen.

These days, the pool of options is deep and vast when it comes to deciding which white-shirt brand to fall on – but one we’ve looked towards in recent years has been Eton, the Swedish luxury shirtmaker feted for its precise, tailored cuts; sturdy constructions; premium materials; and innovative techniques.

Firmly committed to crafting the perfect tailored shirt for almost a century, the brand has recently revealed the fine details – the fabric used; the stitching process; and how the perfect fit is made – that go into making its signature product.

Pattern pieces of a white Eton shirt backlit exposing all seams on a white and blue background
overlaying pattern pieces of a white Eton shirt backlit on a white and blue background

“Certain aspects of the blueprint that we’re sharing are most likely widely recognised among the leading brands in our industry,” says Eton CEO David Thörewik. “Meanwhile, other features, such as our distinctive collar construction, are specific Eton characteristics, like other patents within our industry. Together they showcase Eton’s journey of craftsmanship and innovation – a story we’re proud to share.”

When it comes to the fabric, Eton draws heavily on organically grown 36.5mm Supima cotton sourced largely from southern California, a material that’s celebrated for its optical-white appearance, smooth touch and high lustre. Additionally, the diagonal structure of the twill weave that’s used allows for flexibility and enhances the smooth touch, which, ultimately, makes the shirt free of wrinkles.

White Eton shirt Cuff
White Eton shirt buttons
White Eton shirt collar

Regarding the sewing and stitching, a key aspect, as Thörewik mentioned, is the collar, which is attached via a hidden seam that reduces the appearance of visible seams on the outside and, thus, creates a cleaner, more pristine look. Moreover, the use of 12,000 stitches for each shirt not only dials up the garment’s durability and longevity, but, due to its density, the way it drapes has a richer, heavier feel as a result.

Then, for the fit of each design, Eton, which can call upon almost 100 years of shirtmaking data and know-how, uses precise measurements (down to 0.5 of a millimetre) that are applied across four different silhouettes – super slim, slim, contemporary, and classic – all of which cater for various body shapes and preferences.

“Innovation has been a part of our core since we were founded in 1928. With each year passing, we have meticulously crafted and refined our shirts, treating precision and details as nothing short of an artform,” Thörewik says. “Now, as we share our blueprint to the world, we allow a glimpse into not only our history, but into the expertise and technology that defines us.”

White Textured Twill Shirt

White Textured Twill Shirt


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White Signature Twill Shirt

White Signature Twill Shirt


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White Four-Way Stretch Shirt

White Four-Way Stretch Shirt


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