Button Ups

As editors, we field lots of requests from readers wanting to know what they should buy each season, which items they should retire, and how to build the best wardrobe. Yet, of all the many queries, we get one question over and over again: what's the one article of clothing that every woman should have in her closet? Our answer is simple--a silky button-up! This timeless wardrobe staple can add an element of sophistication to almost any look, and, thanks to an array of lovely prints and styles, can be incorporated into your daily rotation in a number of notable ways, hence, today's How They Wear story! Whether it's a sheer, tucked-in, buttoned-up, floral-print iteration a la Kate Bosworth or a slightly oversized, cuffed, white blouse worn as part of a nonchalant cocktail look like Jessica Hart, silky button-ups are a must-buy for any season.

As we mentioned earlier, one of the great things about these buttoned silky shirts is that they are so versatile. Worn tucked in, they are an incredibly chic and stylish choice for both the office or off-duty affairs; just look to Carine Roitfeld and Alexa Chung for some insider styling tips. The former went for a polished and refined look at the Givenchy Menswear S/S 12 show in Paris earlier this summer, when she paired a black button-up shirt with a floral-print pencil skirt (both by said fashion house). The slim skirt balances the flowy top, resulting in a perfectly proportioned ensemble. Chung, on the other hand, wore her silky button-up (a piece from her collection for Madewell) in a more casual way by teaming it with vintage Levi's cutoffs and leopard-print ankle booties (also from her collection for Madewell) at said retailer's flagship opening in New York a few months earlier.

Of course, if you prefer a more easygoing approach to dressing, you can always leave your silky shirt flowing a la Jessica Hart. The stunning model caught our eye at the "Mates in Need Street Party" fundraiser benefiting the flood victims of Queensland in Australia earlier this year when she wore Nina Maya's Chatsworth Silk Shirt ($261) in Ivory with black Givenchy trousers and red Tony Bianco heels. The classic white blouse is a chic choice, but her decision to leave it un-tucked keeps the outfit feeling relaxed and effortless.

While there's no doubt these tops work in a range of neutral hues, it's also important to note that they are also the perfect canvas for visually intriguing prints, as both Rachel Bilson and Kate Bosworth showed us recently. Bilson impressed onlookers at a CW party in Beverly Hills earlier this month, wearing Erdem's Casey Blouse ($795, 212.206.1272) and Connelley Trousers ($99). Though the blouse and tailored trousers have a sophisticated look, the vivid floral print keeps the outfit feeling fun and fresh. We also approve of Bilson's decision to add a pair of Christian Louboutin leopard-print pumps to give her ensemble a quirky-yet-stylish finish. That same evening at a Coldplay concert in Los Angeles, Bosworth opted for a sheer, more understated option, specifically Missoni's Persis Blouse ($1230, 212.517.9339). Unlike Bilson, Bosworth wore her printed shirt totally buttoned up, giving her otherwise feminine look--including Isabel Marant cropped pants and bow-bedecked pointy-toe pumps (both from the S/S 11 collection) and the Lost City Necklace ($29.99) by JewelMint--a menswear-inspired twist. In addition to Bosworth's obsession-worthy sheer pick, we're also crazy for the swirly print blouse one stylish civilian wore on Stockholm Streetstyle, especially the way she styled it semi-tucked-in with a pair of leather pants and lace-up ankle boots for a cool, laidback look.

Now that you're all caught up to speed on how some of fashion's finest are wearing silky button-ups, let the shopping begin! It's always a good idea to stock up on a few neutral options, in which case we recommend picking up Equipment's Signature Blouse ($208) in both black and white immediately. We personally own one in about every colour and trust us, they will get a ton of wear all year long! We also approve of T by Alexander Wang's Combo Blouse, which has a long silhouette that would look lovely worn un-tucked with black pants a la Hart, as well as Silence & Noise's Silk Blouse ($59) and Forever 21's Silk Button Up Top ($30); the latter are equally chic and more affordable!

Of course if you prefer a little colour, we also suggest snagging a few silky blouses in some of this season's hottest hues, like J. Crew's Silk Lucinda Blouse ($98) in Spicy Gold, Madewell's Silk Cargo Shirt ($110) in Rusty Torch, and Raoul's High Neck Blouse ($195) in Ultraviolet. Want to channel Bosworth and Bilson and try a print version instead? Reiss' Tux Oversized Shirt ($240) and Mix Sixty's Printed Blouse ($172) both feature subtle pretty floral prints that are quite similar to Bosworth's Missoni shirt, while Equipment's Earl Vintage Daffodil Blouse ($238) and Sea Gull Lagoon Blouse ($198) are both totally cute options for the weekend. Finally, our shopping list wouldn't be complete without Theory's Melise Silk-Charmeuse Blouse ($250). We're obsessed with the sage green colour and think it would look ultra-chic worn tucked-in to a pair of tailored shorts or a pencil skirt.--Jessica Baker

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