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A White Shell Suit: Versatility and Comfort at Its Best

September 5, 2022

A white shell suit may not conjure-up images of flare and …but, they can be more than fancy dress accessories if you know how to pull it off.

Shell Suit Look-back

By the time shell suits hit the fashion scene, sometime around the late 1980s, their predecessor – the tracK suit – had already made an indelible impression on fashion-conscious minds. Anyone with even a passing fancy for breakdancing or hip hop in the 1970s had to have a tracksuit in their wardrobe. So, when the cellulose triacetate and polyester-combination shell suit made its debut, it too received a warm welcome!


They were characterised by nylon waterproof tops and matching trousers, and gave the aura of a wearer that was fitness-conscious and fashion-sensitive. While they came in a multitude of colors and styles, a white shell suit was a particularly interesting combo. In fact, because of its neutral look, it blended in with accessories of almost any colour. You could wear pink sneakers and a purple hat, and you’d still carry an impressionable look wearing your white shell suit as you went about your day.


Celebrities like Bruce Lee, Michael Jackson and Swedish musical group ABBA made wearing shells even more trendy – both on and off stage. Their fame and star power meant every one of their ardent followers and admirers wanted to look cool too – just like their idols.


Today, the best vintage fashion outlets carry them, and these suits still find favour among the nostalgic followers of 1970s and 1980s fashion. You’ll see them wearing white shells at fancy dress events and house parties all year around. And, when there are throwback events, one of the most popular ensembles in the house is likely to be an updated take of Elvis in a white shell suit, or P Diddy wearing his vintage white nylon pants and top combo.

Shell of Versatility and Comfort

The versatile Shell suits aren’t meant to be form fitting or curve hugging fashion pieces. In fact, quite the contrary!  They’re deliberately designed as lose fitting, airy, light garments, that are ideal outerwear. And because of this quality – they disguise your true look – they have become a fancy dress staple. But you can wear your white shell suit almost anywhere you like:

  • Do you need to run a quick an errand? Don’t feel like changing into jeans and sweatshirts? Well, wear whatever you already have on – even your jammies! – and throw on your fav white shell to conceal it all. You’re all fit to run that errand now!


  • Are the kids late for school? Do you have to rush and hop into the car to drop them off? Well…you can go as you are you know? Shell suit tops – especially if they are white – make an ideal outerwear. And because they’re inconspicuous, you won’t even attract any attention as you park to let the kids hop out


  • Unexpected company can put a damper on your plans to spend a relaxing weekend at home – wearing your house clothes or patched jeans or cut-offs. But you really don’t need to change into your best informals to greet those unscheduled callers. Reach out into your wardrobe and dust off that white shell suit. In no time at all, you’ll be ready to receive company and feel as comfortable as ever!


  • Planning on a light jog around the block on a nice sunny day – but your regular jogging outfit is in the wash? Well, what’s stopping you from taking in that sunshine? Shells aren’t only good for fancy dress events you know? Just don on a pair of shorts and your favourite Tee, jump into your white shell and slip into your running shoes, and presto…It’s exercise time!


The versatility of shell suits is what makes them evergreen through the ages. And even though they may be a classic go-to piece of clothing for comfortable informal wear, many shell lovers put their shells to good use – even on formal occasions.

  • Dressed in a 3-piece suit for a business meeting, on a windy, blustery day, and don’t want to expose your business suit to the vagaries of mother nature? Well, just wear a shell top to protect your formal wear, and you’ll be all right!


  • Having a “formal” meet-up with the girls on a Saturday afternoon to discuss your project or business plans? Well, a white shell suit at a cosy corner café won’t attract attention. Best of all, you can accessorise with anything you have – a scarf, dark shades, a baseball cap. You don’t even have to wear joggers or sneakers. You could even pull off this “formally informal” look wearing your office shoes – and yes, even half-inch heels or flats!


  • Dashing off to catch a flight to a business meeting – and worried you may not have sufficient time to change into business formals when you land? Well, what’s stopping you from wearing your business wear and shielding it with an outer informal layer? That’s why shell suits are designed that way – big, airy and comfortable!


Because they’re such a comfort to wear, for almost all occasions, and their versatility is unchallenged, the great white shell has seen numerous fashion waves – and survived to still be around today. From formal events to informal chores, and from fancy dress parties to health and fitness routines – your shell is flexible, dynamic and adaptable enough to seem contemporary and yet maintain its vintage aura.

Shelling Out Some TLC

Of course, when talking about designers like Gucci, Alessandro Michele, Valentino and Prada design their line-ups, shell suits are probably least on anyone’s minds. Yet, these high-end designers have jumped into the fray, along with the likes of Adidas and Nike, to give casual comfort a designer look. These suits may be slightly more expensive than what you may get at your local thrift shop, and that’s where you’ll need to exercise some TLC:


  • After you’ve worn yours at your next Halloween fancy dress bash, make sure you air well before you store it away for the season.


  • On your last jog, did you bump into a sappy tree or thorny clover? If left with TLC, that material may solidify, leaving an indelible stain on your white shell suit. Thankfully, shells are easy to maintain, and some soap and warm water should do the trick.


  • After a particularly warm day out, in your favourite shell, you might casually push it back into the back of your closet and slam the door shut. Don’t! It may slide off the rack and fall to the floor, giving it a wrinkled, crumpled look. After you’ve aired your shell suit well, make sure you put it on a hangar and slide it gently into place


Most manufacturers make their shell suits with a durable water repellent (DWR) coating. A compromised DWR manifests itself in the form of hot, sticky, moist feeling inside, trapping sweat and heat from your body. This makes the garment stick to your body. You may experience this when you wear your suit to a fancy dress event packed with crowds and lit with flood lights. The best way to show your white shell suit some TLC, when it’s showing signs of DWR erosion, is to have it dry-cleaned.


At, you’ll find shell suits of all colors, shapes and sizes that are ideal for all occasions. Whether it’s a fancy dress party, a stag do, or a casual need – you’re guaranteed to find exactly what you want.