Everyone Has the Same White Skirt Outfit Idea for Summer

What started at $15,000 on the runway has filtered down into an effortless formula for everyone.

three women wearing white skirts and black shirts
(Image credit: Getty and Courtesy)

Marie Claire fashion editor Lauren Tappan and Who What Wear editor Aniyah Morinia got dressed for the same weekend brunch in May with the exact same white skirt outfit idea unintentionally pinned to their mental mood boards. The look was so straightforward that it made sense both defaulted to it—anyone could wear it well: a black top (tubular in Tappan's case, one-shouldered in Morinia's) tucked into a flowing white maxi skirt.

When the pair met up, "It didn’t take us long to realize that we were practically in the same exact outfit, and we both immediately broke out in laughter," Tappan tells me. By the time they made it to their Washington Square brunch, they were seeing double and triple. A woman at a table near them was wearing a black T-shirt and white maxi shirt; so were a dozen other strangers milling around the park.

I've also noticed the same accidental copy-and-paste action happening on my "For You" page and out in the fashion wilds of New York City. Videos showing thousands of TikTok users how to style up a white maxi skirt almost always start with a black T-shirt; people put it into practice in the dozens with shopping options from the classic (J.Crew and Gap) to the bohemian (Dôen and Zimmermann). My phone screen transformed into a mirror when Milan-based creator Annie Tala Shova recently made a collage of women wearing summery white maxi skirts—almost entirely topped with a black tee or sweater, like the one I was wearing that same day to work.

women at fashion week wearing a white skirt and black shirt

Women around the world have put together white skirts and black tops in endless variations, from crewneck tees and slitted skirts, to cropped jackets and marshmallow-full skirts, (in Paris, left and center) to drop-waist, high-contrast dresses (in New York, right).

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

I reached out to Annie, who digitally collages trending pieces and runway collections, for some insight into the popular outfit formula. She confirmed white skirts are stealing the spotlight in the present, but their origins go a little further back—specifically, Prada's Fall/Winter 2023 collection. There, creative director Miuccia Prada took her somewhat humble office uniform and elevated it with skirts set in exquisite, dainty lace or covered in 3-D floral embellishments, plus understated neutral sweaters and contrasting jackets. (For what it's worth, the look was a self-reference to past Prada collections.)

Those same pieces retail for between $10,000 and $15,000 at the brand's boutiques, but they aren't the only way to tap in. All these months later, a Devils Wear Prada, cerulean monologue trickle-down effect is hard at work with the white skirt as the piece of the moment.

two prada models for different collections wearing a black shirt and white skirt

The start of the black top, white skirt formula may well have been Prada's Fall 2023 collection (left), which in turn referenced an even earlier Prada collection (right).

(Image credit: Getty Images)

At designers of every price point and market of origin, white maxi skirts have a clean, understate appeal. "I've been loving the fresh, clean look they bring to any outfit," Annie says. "I've definitely embraced it in my own wardrobe—it's such a versatile piece!"

The same versatility applies to the outfit formula proliferating throughout street style. The high contrast of a black top and white skirt is crisp, striking, and requires all of 0.5 seconds of effort to put together. (Even fewer when the two are merged into a single dress, like Sofia Richie Grainge's at a recent fashion week.)

Sofia Richie Grainge wearing a black shirt and white skirt at fashion week

Sofia Richie Grainge was an early adopter of the black top, white skirt look, trying it at New York Fashion Week last September.

(Image credit: Getty Images)

This is an outfit formula that isn't limited to a single body type, brand identity, or price point, even if its DNA is laced with a Milan Fashion Week pedigree. Black T-shirts and white skirts are stocked at hundreds of retailers this summer (and even more secondhand stores), at every point on the aesthetic spectrum.

It's minimal while leaving room for maximalists to add their own flair, and non-prescriptive in its range. That said, I've noticed factions specific to fashion subcultures. In corporate, midtown Manhattan near Marie Claire's offices, black tees almost always cover the shoulders and skirts are set in heavier, less-transparent fabrics. Shapes and textures begin to skew more ethereal and casual downtown (and near college campuses like NYU). A TikTok came across my feed counting fans in white tiered maxi skirts at indie artist Lizzy McAlpine's recent concert, casting the piece as a dress code requirement for introspective music lovers.

But unlike one-off viral item's like Zara's spotted dress or Realisation Par's leopard print skirt, there's no risk of feeling too much like anyone else in any of these settings—because there are infinite ways to put both pieces together.

three editors all wearing a black shirt and white skirt

From left, editors Aniyah Morinia, Lauren Tappan, and Halie LeSavage wear their versions of the black top, white skirt combination.

(Image credit: Aniyah Morinia; Lauren Tappan; Halie LeSavage)

♬ original sound - Erika Dwyer

♬ All Falls Down - Lizzy McAlpine

"I think this look is quickly becoming a go-to summer uniform because simply put, it’s uncomplicated," Tappan says. "It’s a full-proof combination of capsule wardrobe pieces that look good together every time without fail."

So what if everyone has the same idea? Sometimes, great closets look alike.

Shop Summer's Big White Skirt Outfit Idea, Six Ways

The Classic Version

By the time you finish reading this story, put down your phone or laptop, and go outside, I guarantee you'll see at least one person in a crewneck T-shirt or ribbed tank top and an unadorned, A-line white skirt. It's the most seamless and straightforward top-and-skirt pairing, which also means there's the most room to make it your own. It can lean demure and romantic with red ballet flats and a big, unmissable hair ribbon; it can swerve in a sporty direction with Adidas Sambas and a braided ponytail.

The Editor-Approved Version

As a fashion editor, I want summer work outfits that look appropriate for the office. I also want to feel comfortable and cool when I'm commuting in a balmy 85 degrees, like I was during the week I began working on this story. I found my middle ground in the form of a sleeveless black top and a solid poplin skirt. It's the same effortless colorblocking formula, with cuts that are more modest for hopping into a meeting or taking appointments. On the weekend, editors Lauren and Aniyah sub in a tube top or a one-shoulder tank in place of a heavier top for the same look.

The Modern Bohemian Version

Boho is undeniably back, but the revival doesn't require a Chloé runway budget. (And if you have it, all the power to you.) Some interpretations of summer's big white skirt outfit idea also fits the Laurel Canyon dress code. These look like a tiered skirt with semi-sheer lace or gauzy, crinkled fabric, plus a top with a little more going on than a basic crew neck. Ruffled sleeves, tie-neck collars, and more eyelet lace are all welcome.

The '90s Minimalist Version

Katie Holmes hasn't yet worn the black tee, white skirt combination yet. Given her swerve toward '90s slip dresses and baggy overalls for spring and summer, I can envision a similarly low-key take making its way into her seasonal wardrobe. A maxi skirt cut on the bias in linen, satin, or silk is perfectly aligned with a less-is-more styling philosophy, especially paired with an unequally-unfussy black tube top.

The One-and-Done Version

On days when the idea of even finding a separate T-shirt and skirt to pair feels like too much time wasted, go for a dress that picks out the proportions for you. In keeping with the rise of pre-styled clothes on runways from Fendi to Bottega to Miu Miu, some brands have done the not-so-hard work of combining a black bodice and white, flowy skirt into one garment. I've picked out three versions: two that are light and breezy for summer, and one long-sleeved take that can transition into fall. (Also, it was co-designed by Sofia Richie Grainge.)

The Loud Luxury Version

You're a graduate of Jennifer Lopez Street Style University with a major in It-items and a minor in logo recognition. Naturally, the version of the black shirt, white skirt combination belonging in your closet includes the Prada skirt that started the whole movement. It's exquisitely crafted from a romantic lace and has that tiny Prada triangle embellished at the hip. Wear it in any major fashion capital, and you'll get a nod of recognition from people who know what's up.

You can balance the worthy investment with an equally impressive, yet understated, piece: Leset's Margot T-shirt. It's a premium cotton option that editors tell me is the Rolls Royce of crewneck tees.

Halie LeSavage
Senior News Editor (Fashion & Beauty)

Halie LeSavage is the senior fashion and beauty news editor at Marie Claire, where she assigns, edits, and writes stories for both sections. Halie is an expert on runway trends, celebrity style, emerging fashion and beauty brands, and shopping (naturally). In over seven years as a professional journalist, Halie’s reporting has ranged from fashion week coverage spanning the Copenhagen, New York, Milan, and Paris markets, to profiles on industry insiders including stylist Alison Bornstein and J.Crew womenswear creative director Olympia Gayot, to breaking news stories on noteworthy brand collaborations and beauty launches. (She can personally confirm that Bella Hadid’s Ôrebella perfume is worth the hype.) She has also written dozens of research-backed shopping guides to finding the best tote bags, ballet flats, and more. Most of all, Halie loves to explore what trends—like the rise of doll-like Mary Janes or TikTok’s 75 Hard Style Challenge—can say about culture writ large. (She justifies almost any purchase by saying it’s “for work.”) Halie has previously held writer and editor roles at Glamour, Morning Brew, and Harper’s Bazaar. Halie has been cited as a fashion and beauty expert in The Cut, CNN Underscored, and Reuters, among other outlets, and appears in newsletters like Selleb and Self-Checkout to provide shopping recommendations. In 2022, she was awarded the Hearst Spotlight Award for excellence and innovation in fashion journalism. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in English from Harvard College. Outside of work, Halie is passionate about books, baking, and her miniature Bernedoodle, Dolly. For a behind-the-scenes look at her reporting, you can follow Halie on Instagram and TikTok.