The white shirt isn’t just a uniform - it’s a crisp, fatigue fighting wardrobe staple that brings beauty, skin radiance and ‘efficiency’ benefits as well as fashion kudos. Here are the best on the high street currently and why they’re so cool

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The humble white shirt might seem like the blank canvas of the garment world but its quiet power can transform everything from your face to how you function at work. First off there’s the brightening, reflective qualities of white - a wake-up call for your skin that’s immediately and literally uplifting as soon as you button it up or slip it on (white blouses count here too). Fashion and beauty expert Trinny Woodall  reckons that, oddly second to sequins, its potential for enhancing every skin tone is second to none:

"After sequins, a white shirt would probably be my secret weapon (I own about 50) because there could be colours of the season that you really want to wear but they don’t look great next to your skin. A white shirt can act as a buffer to enable you to wear that washed out beige - the freshness of a white shirt can reinvigorate your whole face.

"That said, while I think it’s flattering on all skin tones, it has to be the right white. Some people suit cream, some people suit ecru and some people suit white white. If I wear white white and I have a tiny bit of colour then I love it otherwise I might go for that slight ecru but I wouldn’t go for cream. Other skin tones might be much better with an off-white colour, so it's good to experiment."

In Trinny's eyes the white shirt rivals the LBD and provides the ideal backdrop for makeup drama too:

"People always think about a red lip  with a black dress but I think a red lip looks even more fantastic when worn with white. A white shirt with a red lip says you are cool but not trying too hard."

Then there’s the simple elegance and ease - freelance writer Madeleine Spencer  cites that wearing one makes her feel more “efficient” and that “there’s undoubtedly something soothing about being clothed in something so crisp and classic”. Fashion PR Dominique St John  reckons that the fact that a white shirt is chic no matter what you combine it with (“and it fits with any clothing or colour combinations”) is a huge draw for having a white shirt or three in your drawer, meanwhile freelance journalist Arielle Laurent-Smith  told me that the appeal partially lies in its conventionality:

“It strikes me as co-opting a traditionally masculine form of dress (and pulling it off better!) and either leaning into the androgyny or subverting it, for example by way of a black bra visible under a white shirt.”

However you wear it, “the white shirt effect” is officially a thing. The Urban Dictionary defines the phenomenon as “the principle by which any man automatically achieves a high state of attractiveness when clothed in a white shirt, preferably a button down.” Not that it matters a bit how onlookers perceive your appearance, but we’d argue that the same rough white shirt equation applies to women too. It can make you feel fresh faced, even when you’re not, and ready for business when you’d rather be in bed. Just don’t spill your OJ down it and all will be well. Here are six awesome shirts to get you started.

H&M Blouse with Broderie Anglaise, £24.99

A little bit frilly without being frou-frou, this white collared blouse is just the right side of Little House on the Prairie - not corporate or stuffy but not childish either. It’s got enough detail going on that no accessories are required either, which slashes faff from your morning.

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& Other Stories Straight Fit Silk Shirt, £69

Sharp, luxe and oh so soft on your skin, this silk shirt is slightly longer at the back with a rounded hem, meaning that it looks neat whether you tuck it in or let in hang loose. The slim collar and concealed buttons make it all the more streamlined and neat. Team it with a red lip  to counter the simplicity.

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French Connection Rossa Oxford Boyfit Shirt, £55

Slick with a twist, this swingy cotton oversized shirt works seamlessly with weekend jeans or to balance out a more formal look. Dress it up with jewels and a  relaxed chignon .

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Marks & Spencer Round Neck Long Sleeve Blouse, £39.50

There’s something of the Scandi chic about this airy top - the gathered neck, cuffed sleeves and ribbon back make it look far more high end than it is and the size range is brilliant - it spans from a 6 to a 24 but comes up quite baggy (in the best way). Combine it with a more structured makeup look - it would look especially sleek with graphic eyeliner.

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A SOS Design Curve ¾ Sleeve Shirt, £18

A snappy go-to, this pointed collar cotton shirt is a steal and ideal for days when you need to be a bit more tailored. Jazz it up with big earrings and a loud lipstick.

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River Island White Tie Front Long Sleeve Shirt, £17

This tie front, pearl buttoned shirt is in the sale and flying - most likely because it’s a relaxed style that you can wear your way - buttoned up, loose or cinched at the waist. The buttons add something ‘extra’ without being too fussy. It’d look equally put together with a clean face or a smokey eye .

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Can one red lipstick really suit everyone?