While I believe white can be worn all year round, clever dressing means not only wearing the white that best suits your natural coloring but also knowing how to coordinate it with other colors to ensure you get the best look possible.
A great thing about whites is, unlike black there is a white for every type of coloring. In fact according to Pantone Inc., there are more shades of white available commercially than any other color. Whites can be found in shades from the purest, brightest whites to off-white, magnolia and ivory and the best places to experience the gamut of whites is a bridal boutique.
There 3 main color considerations:
How warm or cool it is. Pure whites are best for Cool and Clears (aka Winters), Soft whites for Cool and Muted individuals (aka Summers). Cream to Ivory for the Warm color directions (Warm and Clear / Warm and Muted – aka Spring / Autumn)
The degree of brightness or dullness of the white. Clear bright forms of white are best for the Clears directions (Cool and Clear / Warm and Clear, aka Winters and Springs). Softer, muted shades for individuals whose colors demands softer, less bright shades ( Cool and Muted / Warm and Muted – aka Summers and Autumns).
When worn above the waist and as a solid color next to your skin. Some individuals need definite light and shade (contrast) between the color they wear and their skin. I’ll explain this later in the feature.
Pros of White:
- In the western world wearing whites are seen as summery, youthful, sharp, clean, open minded and efficient.
- Pure white is easy to keep clean as it can often be bleached back to its original brightness.
- Like black it is a color that coordinates with all other colors and is a fantastic canvas for accessories of all types.
- There is always an abundance of whites in the stores.
Cons of White:
- Being a light color it advances and enlarges the area it is worn over.
- In some countries, white is the color of death and mourning.
- Whites can be boring, clinical and unimaginative if worn without accessories or embellishments.
- For those who have the color direction of Cool and Muted (aka Summer), they will always look best in a color other than white.
- Being such a light color it is generally not slimming and therefore, a strategy on how to wear it on your largest area needs to be in place.
- It’s a one-wear, one wash color.
- It can discolor easily under the arms through perspiration. here are two great features on how to remove stains from and bleach white clothes.
- It is notorious for being see-through.
When it’s wrong to wear white
I’ve been asked about the correctness of wearing white quite a few times and the only time I feel that white is not right to wear is to a wedding. It’s the bride’s day and she needs, deserves and wants to stand out. I also understand there may be some grey areas around this so for what it’s worth I’ve added a few examples below. The REALLY IMPORTANT THING – don’t wear all white – no looking anything remotely resembling a bride.
Not wearing white after Labor Day is one of those old rules that have rightly been dissipated over time – winter or summer it’s fine to wear whites if you know how to pull them off.
Other than that it’s really a matter of practicality like, wearing white to somewhere you’ll get dirty.
The practicalities of looking good in white
- When wearing white above the waist select a white with an Undertone and Clarity that best suits your skin tone. There’s no getting away from it if you have cool coloring and the white has a yellow tone, the garment will tend to look dull and possibly dirty.
- If you are full figured or larger below your waist, when wearing white below the waist either:
a. wear a top with some volume, and in color to draw the eyes upwards.
b. look for a style that has no cuffs and is in a study fabric.
c. if you bum is less than bootylicious – ensure your top covers it – see image below.
d. wear a white open blouse, jacket or vest with a colored top underneath to create a longer neck to hem silhouette.
- White is a color that requires a high quality, opaque fabric to look best. Because of its tendency to be see-through ensure you hold the garment up to the light to judge how sheer the fabric is and avoid pants with pockets or have them removed and the pocket sewn shut.
- Wear lingerie that matches your skin color.
- White dresses are best when they are NOT skin tight as the colour will advertise every lump and bump you possess. The best shapes are those that loose and flow over the body or semi fitted shape.
- Wearing unadorned solid whites can be visually uninspiring unless the dress has strong design lines/features. If you are a clear color direction it’s a good idea to add a pop of color via embellishments or accessories.
If you are a muted season either look for a textured garment or add an accessory or embellishment near your face.
- White dresses are best kept for summer, however, a jacket and it transmissions well into early winter.
- White garments look best when you have a tan or have dark skin. If you are pale skinned try a spray tan for an instant fix.
Also, women with Cool,Muted skins tend to best in a color than they do in white. White tends to be too plain on them – see first model below.
- Team whites in summer with light, bright or skin toned shoes and in the cooler months team with black or tan.
Long gone is the rule of not wearing whites in winter. When teamed with, monochromatic highlights, neutral colors and cozy accessories such as fur and boots white quickly becomes a winter highlight.
Links on the psychology of white.