ashington in July had a week of triple-digit heat. Heavy and unbearable. And then--as if by the flick of a switch--there was a subtle change in the air. Whatever it was, it was the same thing in grade school that would wake me up one summer morning suddenly lusting for clean notebooks, sharp pencils, and a new Trapper Keeper. "But school doesn't start for another six weeks," my mom would laugh, shuttling me off to swimming lessons or some other sensible summertime activity. Not one to be deterred, I'd pester her all day until, exasperated, she'd give in and drive me to Kmart. By the time I reached high school, back-to-school shopping became more about clothes than supplies. My
school had a strict dress code, but twice a month on Jeans Day I'd show up invariably in brown Doc Martens, washed out jeans, and my favorite red wool sweater worn with a crisp white Oxford shirt. As the years passed, the pieces of my carefully arranged Jeans Day wardrobe met different fates. The jeans became shorts, the shoes are long gone, and the sweater--moth eaten--is now folded neatly at home in a cedar closet. The thing that has lasted is the white shirt. Maybe not that exact shirt, but the idea of it. There's just something about a white shirt that makes me feel so genuinely and refreshingly me. Or you, if you're the one wearing it. White shirts have an uncanny way of being exactly what you want them to be, when you want them to be it. There's a boyishness about them that makes you feel more
There's a boyishness about them that makes you feel more like a girl
like a girl, and you can dress them up or down, depending on the day. You're running late for class? They say, "put me on wrinkly. I'm a step up from sweats." You can't decide what to wear on this date? "Wear me with your skinny jeans and unbutton me strategically to there." Off to the beach? "You’ll need a bathing suit cover up." Interview? Long day at the office? Called in sick? You get the point. A white shirt gets the job done. And under brighter lights, in bigger cities, the white shirt's allure is amplified, whether it's an edgy androgyny you’re after--think Janelle Monáe-or a refined elegance, tucked into this season’s must-have midi skirt. And while white shirts are year-round staples, I can't shake the sense that they're especially good for September. For me, they occupy the same category as a brand new stack of spiral-bound notebooks-they’re a clean slate, a fresh start, as familiar as they are new. There's that line in The Great Gatsby: "Life starts all over again when it gets crisp in the fall." And how better to start than in a crisp white shirt?