When White is Right

It’s summertime, and the livin’ is easy. And your wardrobe should be too.


During the other three seasons of the year, you may stick to basic color staples of black, brown, gray or midnight blue. These can be the color staples that form the foundation of your wardrobe.

But summertime welcomes the lighter side of life and the fashion world by ushering in the color staple white. It’s light. It’s cool. It’s breeze-kissed. It smacks of picnics in the park, backyard BBQs and barefoot at the beach.

Why Say No to White?

Yet many women tend to shy away from wearing white for a number of reasons. The three most prominent excuses for not wearing white are:

  • It is not as slimming as the darker winter hues
  • It is apt to get dirty more quickly than other colors—think mustard at the family barbeque or dust and dirt from riding in your favorite top-down convertible
  • It can be transparent when worn in the wrong fabric

Why Say Yes to White?

It’s true. There are “cons” to wearing white. But there are many “pros” to wearing this refreshing color as well. And there’s a shade of white to fit any complexion. According to the Pantone Color Institute, one of the world’s greatest color authorities, there are more shades of white than any other color: 30,000 to be exact. Although there is only one true shade of white, it’s so bright as to be almost invisible. So fashion relies on approximately 150 obviously visible shades.


On a positive note, let’s take a look at the “pros” to wearing white. White

  • Connotes in Western culture innocence, purity, youth, goodness, safety, understanding, illumination, beginnings, spirituality, humility, sincerity, protection and softness. It also represents wholeness, brilliance and perfection. (Now who wouldn’t want to be whole, brilliant and perfect?)
  • Coordinates well with all colors
  • Keeps body temperature cool, as it doesn’t absorb the warmth of sunlight like darker hues
  • Offers a flattering contrast to tanned or darker skin tones
  • Creates an exciting canvas for colorful accessories and statement jewelry pieces
  • Cleans well in a pure white hue. Simply add ½ cup Borax or ¼ cup white vinegar to the laundry or use Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda. Another solution involves boiling water with lemon halves in a large pot and soaking your garment till the water cools. Once your garment is clean, it can be stored in breathable cotton boxes. Do not store in cardboard boxes as the acid in the paper can cause the garment to yellow.
  • Last but not least, white is the epitome of summer itself.

There are definitely more pros than cons to wearing white. But how can you wear white best? Here are some tips:


Make sure you select the right white for your skin tone, hair and eye color.

  • Your coloring is Cool if your skin tone is either very fair or very dark, Asian, Latina or Indian. Choose the clearest, purest whites you can find to flatter your personal color palette.
  • Your coloring is Neutral if your skin is a combination of both cool and warm tones and you look best in pastel hues. Choose ivory tones or off-whites to accentuate your signature palette.
  • Your coloring is Warm if your skin tone is dark or you have red hair and you look best in tropical hues. Your palette should include creamy whites with a warm undertone.

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If you’re not sure what your personal palette is, you might consider having a Color Consultation with a certified color and image consultant like myself. Using the color fanguides above, we’ll work together to create a once-in-a-lifetime consult that guide you to the colors that best fit and flatter. Many of my clients find this the most helpful step in creating the image they want and a look they love.

  • Wear white with a pop of color or a striking “statement piece” accessory to make sure your outfit doesn’t look dull, boring or, worse, clinical.

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  • Make certain you wear white on an area of your body that does not need slimming. White generally makes you appear larger than you are, so if you’re trying to camouflage a large derriere, avoid white pants and skirts.
  • Likewise, if you want to accentuate a larger-than-wanted bustline, wear a striking dark-colored shirt, blouse or jacket to call attention elsewhere.

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  • Select lingerie in the same color as your skin tone. Some white fabrics can appear transparent. To avoid the see-through syndrome, choose your lingerie carefully. If you’re not averse to wearing thong-style panties, these work well with white pants and skirts. Your goal always is to avoid seeing a panty or bra line.

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  • Select a heavier white fabric such as white denim that you cannot see through, that won’t easily wrinkle and that’s easy to wash.


  • Opt for white pants and skirts that are lined. This will help avoid the see-through syndrome, but consider that it also makes your wardrobe piece heavier—and therefore less cooling.
  • Select shoes that are neutral in tone rather than dark or bright in color. This will elongate your legs and put the focus on your summer-white outfit. Other excellent shoe choices include sandals and metallic finishes.




  • Avoid pocket detailing on your pants and skirts. If your white wardrobe piece champions the see-through syndrome, your pockets will show. If you do find a pair of white pants or a skirt with pockets, have a tailor remove them. This will give your clothing a crisp, clean-lined look.
  • Make sure your white clothing is loose and breezy like the summer ease it exemplifies. Dresses and skirts should be flowing and loose rather than skin tight. It not only looks cooler, it will be cooler. And you’ll be “cooler” too.

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  • Wear white after Labor Day? Absolutely. There are no longer any hard and fast fashion rules. In fact, you can wear white well into the winter as long as it’s a creamier, off-white tone.
  • And don’t be afraid to jump on the white-and-cream combo bandwagon. Fashion editors and runway raves are pointing the way to the once “no-no” combination of non-matching whites. Pair a white trouser with a cream-colored shirt or blouse. Or an all-white outfit with an ecru-shade duster.

You have every right to know what’s right about white for your summer or any season wardrobe. And with these helpful hints, I know you’ll get white right every time!

Let me know your greatest concerns or questions about how to wear white right.

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