The Not-Quite-White Shirt
Ever so briefly, Vox mentioned two things: Will’s bow tie and also his “underrated off-white shirt,” which I think does deserve more attention.
Of course, you need a white shirt for more formal cases and a variety of shirts in blues are great, too. But blue can get quite boring to wear all the time with white feeling a bit inappropriate to wear more casually. This is where off-white shirts in cream, ecru and other “not-quite-white” tones offer a great solution.
I like to wear my ecru oxford cloth button-down shirt during the daytime with more relaxed and casual clothing: tweed or cotton jackets, under wool sweaters or just by itself with jeans.
As an alternative to white, it allows you to use the color without any of the high-contrast and looks more natural against sunlight. This subtle difference gives your wardrobe an alternative to wearing white-collar business shirts with clothing that would be better suited for outside of work.
It’s for this reason that I think the shirt compliments darker earth tones the best: maroon, olive, browns and tans. But it also works well against navy, as Will proves above. It’s a very pleasing look.
If your daily wardrobe skews toward the casual end, then look into a few shades away from white. It might end up being quite versatile for you.