17/03/2016 16:41 GMT | Updated 18/03/2017 05:12 GMT

The Indispensables: #1 The White Shirt

What makes a 'sustainable' wardrobe?

Quantity is certainly the first thing that comes to my mind. We all have far too many clothes. And despite this, I'm willing to bet that most, if not all of us, always gravitate towards the same small number of items, again and again.

Why? Because they make us feel comfortable; we feel like ourselves in them

and 'being your own self is the most fashionable trend of all' - wearbias

Does it then not make more sense to streamline our wardrobes by spending more on less; to develop an attitude whereby an item must present significant value to us, in order to claim its place?

Given that we are all so different, how then is it possible to identify 'wardrobe essentials' that apply to us all? It's tricky, because in addition to the above, it must be something that is easily available and easy to care for. It must be comfortable and versatile. And above all, it must be something that complements all body shapes, sizes and skin colours.

The first item to kick off this series of features is worthy of its number one spot: The White Shirt.

For all the above reasons it is the perfect wardrobe essential for everyday use, while being one of the few items that never causes you to feel under or over dressed.

The following list features seven unique examples, each from a brand making a conscious effort to source, design and produce this indispensable item in a more responsible way.

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Long established as the UK's leading brand for responsibly produced clothing, People Tree have got your basics covered and their slim fit take on this essential is an everyday classic.


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Looking for British through and through? Tom Lane's the brand for you. Designed in Lincolnshire and manufactured in Wales 'the explorer' is made of drill cotton, a slightly heavier choice than usual... because there's nothing worse than a transparent shirt.


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Tradlands: the answer for all women, myself included, who always find themselves in the menswear section, only to come away with another oversized shirt. No darts at the waist nor tiny little pockets and not a hint of gathering in sight. Strong, straightforward pieces made to last a lifetime, and these ones fit just right.


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For the minimalists among us, Scandinavia has long been a source of style inspiration and boy has my latest discovery Skall studio, nailed it. Clean lines, check. Easy shapes and colours, check. Versatility, check. Their collections are built to transcend the seasons and their 'sailor shirt' is functional beauty at its best.


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Reformation. If you haven't heard of them by now, you're in the minority. Famed for their unparalleled approach to sourcing, manufacture, distribution and attitude to waste, their styles are invariably a sell out. Last time I checked there was a waiting list for this one...


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Always a fan of a twist on a classic and this one from New York based UNIFORME is no exception. The brand, built around the concept of developing an everyday uniform, has many variations of a white shirt. This one in particular, with its distinctive neckline, is an unusual yet highly wearable alternative.


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As of this year, Eileen Fisher claims the title of largest womenswear brand to be certified as a B Corp (a brand that places equal importance on profit, people and the planet). Their take on the white shirt, using jersey (which is stretchy) rather than a more traditional woven fabric, results in a modern, easy to care for take on a classic, with not a crease in sight.

Look out for The Indispensables: #2 Breton stripes, we've been expecting you...

This post was originally featured on the study 34 blog