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Kat Depner, personal stylist from Portand, Oregon, shares styling advice on her blog

Seconds to impress

giggles, style hacks, and inspiration for your personal style story

Seven Style Challenge: The Bland White Button-Up


Seven Style Challenge The Bland White Button Up

My relationship with classic style staples mirrors my relationship with cruciferous vegetables: reach for them once a quarter, squint my eyes, and pray for the best.


As a stylist, I understand the value of classics as they stand the test of time and give you the invaluable gift of multi-functionality. I get it. I preach it, and I help clients achieve it.


However, when it comes to my own personal version of style joy, a white button-up top, though touted as a timeless staple, is a deep and jarring disappointment to my soul.


With that said, I am always a fan of seeing the error in my ways while going on an adventure in scrappy reinvention. My mission this week is to take the sleepy and timeless white button up and elevate it to a category of visual interest that will sizzle the retinas - or at least keep me from falling asleep as I catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror.

Kat wearing white button up with tube top

Totally Tubular


I have a contentious relationship with tube tops. While they may promise to showcase the grandeur of a collar bone, the pulling, tugging and repositioning to keep boobs from making a surprise introduction at dinner tables is not worth the effort. It’s fun, but it ultimately conjures feelings of early 2000 club wear. However, something magical happens when you pair the correct tube top with the sleepy white button up. For this ensemble, I have reached for a cropped black tube top with a sweetheart neckline. The beauty of this top is that it ends right at the narrowest part of the waist, emphasizing and showcasing a tiny waistline.


When experimenting with an item that has the potential to draw a lot of attention to your chest, I recommend selecting a neutral color. The black tube top does create a lot of contrast, but if you are interested in something more muted I would recommend a camel tone tube top or a more muted color. Finish the look off with a pair of flair jeans and booties and you have successfully elevated the sleepy white button-up.

Kat wearing white button up with sequin skirt

Simmering Sequins


If you are like me and spent the better half of December purchasing tinsel inspired wardrobe accents, you are likely now beating your chest and wailing in repentance. What do you do with a velvet sequin meshed skirt? It’s not ideal for the office, and it also feels a little too dressed up for a casual and socially distanced happy hour.


Enter the tailored white button-up – this top gives you the option to neutralize an item that feels a little extravagant. Its crisp collar and classic casual vibrations bring balance to the ensemble. When it comes to heavy accents like sequins, you want to avoid adding more weight on your top half so that the outfit doesn’t become weighed down in material. Jean jackets and leather would be a natural misfire. The simple and elegant silhouette of this white button up cuts through the heavy accent, giving the eyes a bit of unexpected reprieve while letting the hero shine through.

Kat wearing white button up with blazer and shorts

Blazing Shorts


The Pacific Northwest is an interesting place where business casual means anything shy of walking around barefoot. This standard of business casual is refreshing as there is no pretense; you get to come exactly as you are. The only problem is I come exactly as someone who has an army of blazers and have found very little occasion to wear them!


Surprisingly, the sleepy white button-up is just what I needed to tone down my army of blazers into day-to-day wear. For this ensemble, I’ve picked an unabashedly yellow boyfriend blazer that oozes feelings of sunshine and eccentricity. To neutralize its intensity, I’ve used the white button-up as a base layer and buttoned it up all the way to the collar. This creates a tailored effect that mixes with the structured yellow blazer to create quite a bit of polish that feels both fun and tailored.


To balance all the structure I have created, I’ve finished this ensemble with a pair of blue cut-off shorts. The semi-distressed and casual denim neutralizes the formality of the ensemble and makes it wearable to date night or happy hour. When you feel a little formal and wondering how you might add a bit of edge to your outfit, you cannot go wrong with a pair of cutoffs.


Buttoning It All Up


Like brussels sprouts drenched in a pile of crisp bacon, it appears the treacherously boring white button-up can take on a new and delicious form with a few creative accents. The key to awakening sleepy staples is always going to be about contrast. Tube tops, sequin skirts and cut-off shorts all offset and temper the formality of a white button-up while the button-up calms down the loudness of these items, conjuring up some serious visual interest.


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