I’ve had many, MANY requests flow in through Facebook, comments, and e-mails for help finding opaque white shirts. Some of you are hoping to find button-fronts, others tees, but everyone is frustrated by the dearth of opaque options out there. And I hate to say it – especially since I pride myself on being able to find virtually anything either in person or online – but I, too, struggle to find white shirts that are truly opaque. I’ll occasionally find a knit tee that works fine with just a nude bra, but button-fronts? Forget about it. The Foxcroft shirt shown above is among my most opaque, but even it has a bit of show-through in certain lights.
So I’ll give you my few meagre tips, and open the discussion to everyone in the hope that some of you have found a few brands or styles of white shirts that don’t require work-arounds to wear.
Double-front knit tops
They’re getting rarer, but they do exist – mostly among brands that skew slightly older like Coldwater Creek and J.Jill. Obviously, two layers of cloth – even if that cloth is white – will be more opaque than one. And since show-through is often more of a problem in the front than the back, this style of top can work.
Higher-end and legacy brands
Very few Old Navy or Forever 21 white shirts will be opaque. Bargain brands cut costs across the board to pass along savings to the consumer, and thick, opaque, white fabrics are generally better quality and spendier than thin, translucent, white fabrics. I’m not saying you won’t occasionally find an opaque blouse or tee for a bargain at Target, or that every expensive designer top will be totally opaque. Just that my Foxcroft shirt above is $76 and considerably less revealing than my $20 LOFT clearance rack one. When I thrift, I can tell a Pendelton or Brooks Brothers shirt from a Gap or Express one just by feel; The cloth is thicker, sturdier, and harder to see through. I can’t say as I’ve found any recent styles anywhere that I’d recommend, but I know from experience that older brands, more expensive brands, and brands that cater to mature women are generally less likely to be peddling white shirts that will show the world your bra.
Ribbed knit tees
I prefer ribbed knits because I find them to be less clingy than non-ribbed knits, but they also tend to be a bit sturdier and more opaque. Now, I’m not talking about the wide ribs like you find in tank tops, but instead about the type of knit used to make “baby” style tee shirts. In fact, many of the shirts I’ve bought that fall into this category are called “baby rib” since the ribbing itself is so fine. Zappos has some examples from Alternative Apparel, Splendid, and other brands. I stocked up on baby rib Amber Sun tees from Nordstrom last year, too, and they were fabulously opaque. Some are thin, but ribbed knits are often a bit beefier than smooth knits.
That’s right, three measly points in and we’re already at work-arounds! Since few of my own shirts are opaque enough to wear on their own, I rely on my nude camis to take up the slack. Mine are cheapies from Target, smooth nylon, and they’re not shapewear but just meant to add another layer between bra and world. (Like this one.) My primary show-through issue is my bra, and this type of cami helps create an unbroken torso line beneath my shirt. In my opinion, utilizing this layering system is more sophisticated than layering a plain white tank top beneath a white button-front. Less show-through, more subtle.
Why am I bringing this up? Because several jobs ago, I met a woman in her early 40s who was wearing white bras with her white tops. Until I mentioned how fabulously invisible nude bras were, and how essential they were for days when white tops were worn. Her eyes got about as big around as saucers, friends. So just in case: A bra that is nude to YOUR skin tone will create less show-through than a white, colorful, or printed bra. Hopefully you’ve got one. Or are going to nab one right after work today.
So why exactly are manufacturers content to churn out translucent white shirts year after year? Cost savings, undoubtedly. But just as women everywhere are baffled by the lack of sleeved dresses available to them, we’re all scratching our heads about this one. None of us actively wants white shirts that show everything, and just about every last one of us would be willing to shell out a few extra bucks for options that are truly opaque. Hopefully the market will hear our frustrated cries and make some changes soon.
Until then, anyone have resources to share for opaque white tees, tops, and shirts? Bought any lately that don’t require nude camis or other layers? Especially interested in brands that carry petites, talls, and plus sizes, but any suggestions are totally welcome!
Outfit details here.
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