Ecru comes from the French word écru, meaning raw. It is used to describe shirtings ranging anywhere from beige to pale yellow to off-white ivory. Properly, ecru should be used to describe a light grey-ish beige. Turnbull & Asser (along with most other British shops) uses the word “cream” on their website to describe their pale yellow shirts, though when I asked what they call the colour an English employee at the New York store said “ecru.” Ecru and cream shirts pair better with browns and greens than pure white, but they can also be a great match for blue and grey suits, as the photos here show.
Ecru often describes the raw colour of silk and linen, and silk shirts traditionally come in an off-white ecru rather than in a pure white. A number of the ecru or cream shirts that James Bond wears are made of silk as an even more luxurious alternative to fine and silky cotton shirts that Bond typically wears.
Ecru and cream are versatile colours. Roger Moore is a big fan of ecru and cream shirts and wears them at least once in all of his James Bond films. In the sixth and final season of The Saint, Roger Moore wears cream shirts with his suits and sports coats almost exclusively. Sean Connery wears a number of cream shirts throughout his tenure as Bond, and Pierce Brosnan wears a number of shirts in light ecru—which can be called ivory—in his first two Bond films. Some may consider ecru and cream to be between light blue and white in formality, though all three are appropriate for most suit-wearing occasions. If white is too stark for your complexion, ecru or cream may be a better choice.
Cream and ecru shirts are currently out of fashion, and Daniel Craig has yet to wear such a shirt in his James Bond films. They often can have an aged look compared to a white, making them look a bit more old-fashioned.