NOTE – This post has been updated here: Best 2022 white tops if you’re over 50. The shirts on this page below are no longer available. However, the style tips remain relevant.
It’s the time of year when our thoughts turn to fresh cool white tops. Every wardrobe needs a couple of new white shirts every year. And now is the time to choose them before the best sellers are gone.
- Choose one top that is easy to wear with almost everything
- Choose a second top that makes more of a style statement
- Look for a classic shirt with today’s wider cut
- Choose a summer top that has this year’s styling details e.g. broderie
- Never buy expensive white tops because their brightness doesn’t last more than a season
To see a video of me trying these white tops on go to YouTube Best White Shirts for Women 50+.
There’s nothing quite as good as sparkling white against a skin that has the beginnings of a suntan. Suddenly you look healthier and younger.
But that top needs to be perfectly white. Last year’s item probably isn’t quite good enough. I use my last year’s white tops under jumpers in Spring and I like to buy one or two new ones each year about now.
It’s cheaper and quicker to purchase all from the same online store so my picks are all from one of my favourite shops: John Lewis & Partners. They ship worldwide and you pay in your local currency, not at an inflated ‘local’ price. For staples like white tops they stock just about every design you could want. And they have plenty of choice for women over 50 (no I don’t mean highly conservative or frumpy, I mean with a fit and modesty that most of us look for as we age.)
It used to be that we would buy two or more white tee shirts to see us through the summer. These would team with jeans, go under any type of jacket, look smart but youthful with pants to the office and tuck into a summer skirt for the weekends.
But I’ve found I mainly buy striped Breton-style tee shirts that do all this these days.
So in this selection I’m picking out more structured shirts.
STOP PRESS. July 2020 whilst one or two of these tops have been so popular they are now out of stock, the rest are offering amazing reductions right now. Well worth a quick look before summer ends – I’m certainly going to get a couple more, even if I keep them for next Spring!
John Lewis’ own designs white tops
John Lewis stocks many well-known clothing brands but what many shoppers don’t realise is that they also have their own design team. Every season they add to their collection of wardrobe staples using quality fabrics and bold simple styles. These are a godsend for every woman over 30! They are amazing value. They follow major fashion trends but are designed to last several seasons.
For a stylish up-to-date take on the linen shirt check out this Hankie hem 100% linen top. It’s cut wide with a longer back hem giving it that Scandinavian pure look. The back hangs in loose folds.
It will need ironing. Although crushed linen is a ‘thing’ I feel this item will look best when you can see the clean lines.
It will work well with any pants or skirt in a fine summer fabric such as cotton or linen. The neckline lends itself to a bold abstract design necklace.
This short boxy cut is very forgiving for those of us whose waist is a fond memory of bygone days.
STOP PRESS. Update July 2020. The linen shirt is now out of stock at John Lewis & Partners. But here’s a similar one they sell:
Kin Placket Detail Top White. It’s got a fabulous price reduction right now so get over there and take a look!
If you’re like me and love summer outdoor markets – I spend hours mooching around the colourful spice and olive counters at village markets in Provence – then here’s the perfect top for you this year. Bang on trend with its broderie sleeves you’ll wear it again and again. Team it with a summery patterned midi skirt for a very feminine slightly vintage look.
Weekend smart white tops
This pintuck blouse by Toast is very versatile. It will look stunning over jeans at the weekend and will look smart over cigarette pants in black or a bold solid colour when you’re going out to lunch with friends. (Cigarette pants are close fitting pants that finish above the ankle with a small vent. Think 50’s-60’s fashion). It’s a fine fabric but the relaxed cut means it won’t crease as easily as a top that fits more closely to your body.
Everyone needs one classic white shirt that’s relaxed enough to tuck into jeans or patterned trousers on Saturday but can team with a straight skirt Monday to Friday. OK. This is it. Hush linen jersey shirt. It’s got a straight cut so you can tuck in or let it hang loose or even use as a lightweight summer cover up over a tee shirt (or bikini top if you’re young!) It’s got a nice set of small tortoiseshell buttons down the front that adds that all-important better-than-standard finish to it.
See how the model wears it. You can go for the exact same look. It’s age neutral.
White shirts that suit plus sizes
Live Unlimited offers an excellent oversized casual shirt in sizes 12 to 28 (UK sizes). It’s soft to the touch and hangs well as it’s polyester. Don’t tuck in a classic oversized shirt like this. Put it over jeans and roll up the sleeves and it’s perfect for the weekend or put a jacket over it (let the shirt hang down lower than the jacket hem) and a pair of neat straight cut pants and you have a smart outfit.
This Joules broderie short sleeved easy-to-wear top in 100% cotton marries up well with cropped jeans or drawstring waist skirt or linen pants. It’s this summer’s staple for unstressed dressing on sunny days. Just a bit more stylish than a simple tee shirt you’ll look cool in this whether you are 19 or 90. From sizes 6 to 20 (UK sizes) you’ll get a great fit.
Say no to see-through shirts
The problem with white is however good the fabric you can always see through it a bit. Now when we were in our teens and twenties this was a big plus, let’s admit it. But once we’re 50+ transparency is not what we want.
So you really need to buy a couple of simple under shirts. Get one that sits easily on your shoulders but with a deepish scoop neckline and one that’s more minimal. The more covered vest can be a simple lightweight tank top. The minimal vest should have a deep V neckline and spaghetti straps.
John Lewis does a simple scoop neck sleeveless tank top in organic cotton. It comes in a wide range of sizes and has a lovely soft feel against the skin. It is long enough to tuck in so you can decide whether your shirt will hang loose or tuck in too. A very inexpensive but vital item for any summer wardrobe.
I’ve been buying Brora fine ribbed vests for years now. They give just the right amount of under-top coverage and are pretty enough to wear without a shirt on a hot day. This one has adjustable straps which can be really useful if you have a bust that is a little lower than the average.
This article is part of a series on building your capsule wardrobe if you are over 50. The other articles in this series are:
I’m writing this during the lockdown here in France. I’m looking forward to summer and happy that online shopping exists. Deliveries may possibly take a little longer but frankly, we’ve got time.
Keep safe and keep well everyone.
As always please leave a comment if you buy any of these. We all want to know what you think.
Like these tops? We’d love you to spread the word. Here are pins for your Pinterest boards.
Update Spring 2022
If you’re looking for a shirt in 2022 take a look at my more recent article: The 9 best Boyfriend Shirts if You’re Over 50. Almost all come in white which is always a key staple item for any wardrobe. But there’s also blue and white stripes which are becoming a classic too. Then there’s bold block colors like orange which bring your look right up to date. the only downside is they may look outdated in a year or two.
Because non-white shirts can go in and out of fashion quickly I’ve highlighted nine inexpensive cotton and cotton-blend boyfriend shirts.
As most of my readers are now based in the US, I now (2022) include US online stores as the links. But all the retailers sell throughout the world including the UK and Canada.