Until recently I had always dismissed white shirts as very formal and somewhat boring items of clothing. I've now completely changed my mind and love wearing white shirts - there is so much you can do with them, for the very reason that white brings neutrality, something that you can either keep simple or build on.
I completely understand where Domenico Dolce & Stefano Gabbana were coming from with their Dolce & Gabbana Spring/Summer 2011 womenswear collection ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EYn_Ka6UMNg ) using only black & white. I'm not a fan of black & white together, but on their own they can be so powerful - you only have to look at the Dolce & Gabbana finale to see what I mean.
With a white shirt you can't hide behind the colour or the print: the shirt becomes the centre-piece, in all its simplicity.