If ever we needed a reminder of the power that comes with a perfect white shirt, Uma Thurman looking impossibly chic in a Bottega Veneta button-down and black silk skirt at this year’s Oscars provided it. The look, which (according to her stylist) required her to sit reclined in the car ride there to keep the outfit unwrinkled, was a nod to Thurman’s cult character Mia Wallace in the film Pulp Fiction . The look was also reminiscent of fellow actress Sharon Stone’s 1998 Oscars fit when she paired a white shirt from US retailer The Gap with a lavender Vera Wang skirt, becoming an early pioneer for the high/low fashion mash-up. It-girl Zendaya also wore a white shirt as part of her custom Valentino outfit for the 2022 Oscars. The list of iconic white shirt moments is long and varied. Remember Jennifer Grey in Dirty Dancing , or John F. Kennedy Jr’s wife Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy wearing a white shirt and black skirt by Yohji Yamamoto at a fundraiser in 1999 (a look referenced by Meghan Markle , Duchess of Sussex in 2019)? And how about Audrey Hepburn in the 1953 film Roman Holiday? A white shirt is a constant on fashion catwalks too, it being an ideal foundation piece that can be easily transformed by tweaking a collar or cuff. In recent seasons, The Row, which consistently turns out a perfect white shirt, has amped up the classic garment with pointed collars and extra-long sleeves for its Resort 2023 collection. Ralph Lauren’s autumn 2022 collection sees crisp white shirts worn over turtleneck jumpers and underneath monogrammed jumpers for a preppy, elegant take. Peter Do always has a super chic version too, most recently with black piping down the sleeves and a bib front. Fashion designer Thakoon Panichgul started Hommegirls, a zine, website and menswear-influenced collection of shirts, boxer briefs, socks and more as a passion project in 2019. Fans of the brand include actress Sophie Turner and fashion influencer Camille Charriere. For Panichgul, who says his shirting has struck a particular chord among customers, the white shirt has universal appeal because everyone can wear it in their own way. “It’s a timeless piece that never gets old. I love seeing the different mixes or proportions that each woman brings to her style,” says Panichgul. That said, Panichgul has thoughts on what makes a white shirt perfect. “Slightly big on the shoulders, great collar shape that’s not too pointy, straight down on the body.” Australian fashion designer Anna Hoang, whose label Anna Quan has garnered a following for her well-cut and interesting shirts and suits, loves the white shirt in part because its simplicity can be deceptive. “I love the versatility and timelessness of a white shirt. My design approach is very much focused on creating a precise cut and fit. There is nowhere to hide with ‘simple’ pieces – the fit and proportions need to be balanced and on point,” she says. For Hoang – who says the 1988 Peter Lindbergh photograph of a group of then-emerging supermodels, including Linda Evangelista , wearing white shirts on the beach is one of her favourite white-shirt moments in fashion history – cut and fit is everything. “I like the classic look of a white shirt styled with perfectly tailored black pants. I like to look at proportion and always consider the pieces that will be teamed with a white shirt,” Hoang says. “Is it going to be tucked into pants – and if so, does the side seam shape feature a slimline European cut to avoid an excess of fabric around the waist? Are the sleeves long enough to avoid placing stress on the sleeve placket, and allow ‘range of motion’ when I bend my elbow?” she says. Liane Wiggins, head of womenswear at Matchesfashion, says one of the best things about a white shirt is that it’s timeless, and the options for wearing it are endless. “The white shirt is a timeless wardrobe staple, it is versatile and has endless styling options meaning it can be worn all year round, season after season,” she says. “You can throw on a crisp, tailored shirt and instantly look polished or opt for a romantic style with more unusual details such as an oversized collar or puffed sleeves from the likes of Simone Rocha and Cecilie Bahnsen to dress up your look.” Shirting continues to be a growth category for the retailer. Wiggins says that brands such as Raey, Toteme, Jil Sander and Bourrienne Paris X are resonating particularly well. Meanwhile, she says more avant-garde labels like Sacai and MM6 Maison Margiela can be counted on to add a twist to the classic garment. Wiggins agrees that when it comes to finding your perfect white shirt, fit matters, and so do the little details that elevate a wardrobe staple into a piece to treasure. “I would think about the fit of the shirt. If you are looking for a more relaxed silhouette, I would suggest Raey. Although more oversized in shape, Raey’s minimal aesthetic feels smart and elevated. “If you are looking for something more structured and perhaps with an interesting detail, Bourrienne Paris X is my go-to – the label cleverly reworks the wardrobe staple with subtle, period-influenced accents, such as elegant French cuffs or a detachable pussy bow.” If in doubt, think about what Uma Thurman or Mia Wallace would wear – and never underestimate the importance of a really good iron and/or steamer.