How to Wear White Right

After a dreary Spring filled with unexpected weather, I couldn’t wait to try on my summer whites, whether slacks, skirts or dresses. Such a refreshing change from wearing the dark and dour wardrobe colors of Winter.

Many of my clients feel the same way. With the advent of Summer, they couldn’t wait to change it up and look stylin’ in their white linen pants or LWD (Little White Dress).

Yet some of them tend to shy away from 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; or
* It can be transparent when worn in the wrong fabric.

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.

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

* Connotes in the 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 other 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 with bleach in a pure white hue; and
* 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.

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. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime activity that will help guide you to the colors that best and flatter. Many of my clients find this the most helpful step in creating the image they want.

* 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.



* 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 smaller-than-wanted bustline, wear a striking white shirt, blouse or jacket to call attention upward.

* 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.


* Select a heavier white fabric such as white denim that you cannot see through—and that won’t easily wrinkle.

* Opt for white pants and skirts that are lined. This will help avoid the see-through syndrome, but it also makes your wardrobe piece heavier—and therefore less cooling.

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* 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.

* 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.


* And 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!

* 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.

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

Shine on!


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