When/How to Wear White

A basic white shirt should be in everyone's wardrobe.
A basic white shirt should be in everyone's wardrobe.
Digital Vision/Thinkstock

You love the color white, as evidenced by your home d├ęcor. Layers of white adorn pretty much every surface in your house. White walls, white rugs, white slip-covers and white bedding. But when it comes to your wardrobe, there's a serious dearth of white, because you just don't feel like you've ever been able to pull it off.

We know that white doesn't suit all skin tones. Lovely ladies with dark hair and olive skin or a good tan seem to wear it best. But that's not to say that pale skinned blondies and redheads can't rock a white look as well. And yes, it's true that if you're not built like a fashion model, white can make you look a little heavier than you actually are. Just keep in mind that while white skinny jeans may not be the right choice for your frame, you may find that a boot cut is considerably more flattering. Let's get down to the brass tacks of pulling off white in an ensemble.


White isn't the most forgiving color when it hugs your curves, especially when it's something made with a breezy fabric, like a summer dress. Flowy is the name of the game when it comes to selecting white apparel. A gauzy cotton dress shouldn't be clingy or fitted. And if you want to avoid others being able to identify your underpinnings, stick to bras and undies that match your skintone. When it comes to shoes and accessories, white is best paired with a palette of natural colors. Sure, you could wear red pumps with your crisp white shirt dress, but that's a little '80s, don't you think? Instead, choose camel or brown sandals. White also looks great with metallic sandals, like silver and gold. Same goes with jewelry; opt for a wooden bangle or oversized wooden beaded necklace, or a simple metallic chain and earrings.

Winter White

As long as the fabric is appropriate, white can be worn year-round.
As long as the fabric is appropriate, white can be worn year-round.

Fortunately for lovers of white clothing, fashion trendsetters have tossed the stuffy "no white after Labor Day" rule right out the window. That isn't to say, however, that there aren't rules on how to wear white in the cooler months that should still be upheld. In the fall and winter, wools and tweeds are preferable to light cottons and linens, simply as a matter of comfort and warmth. Sure, you could pair your flowy, white cotton dress with a warmer wool blazer, but the summer fabric will still look out of place amidst the colors and feel of fall and winter. Just as white wool pants aren't a good pick for July, your favorite white linen pants should stay on a hanger until around the time when the lilies start blooming next year.

Winter white has solved the problem for a lot of clothing designers who don't want to banish white during the cooler half of the year. And the way to pull it off is to pair it with other colors. For example, a white mohair sweater looks great in the winter with dark denim jeans and a pair of ankle boots, while a white maxi skirt or dress pairs well with a furry vest in black or gray. White denim goes well with a seasonal pullover and biker boots. And of course, a white wool coat can make an outfit. All of this being said, however, there still is one rule that even the most daring fashionistas adhere to -- no white shoes in the winter.


Related Articles


  • Collis, Liza. "How to Wear White: Cute White Outfits You'll Look Great In." womenshealthmag.com. April 14, 2012. http://www.womenshealthmag.com/style/white-fashion-0?page=0
  • "How to Wear White After Labor Day." Rd.com. April 14, 2012. http://www.rd.com/health/how-to-wear-white-after-labor-day/
  • "How to Wear White: Work to Weekend." Self.com. April 14, 2012. http://www.self.com/beauty/2011/06/how-to-wear-white-slideshow
  • "How to Pull Off Winter White Like a Pro." Fabsugar.com. April 14, 2012. http://www.fabsugar.com/How-Wear-White-Winter-2012-21587126?slide=0
  • Mayyasi, Erica. "How to wear white in winter." Sheknows.com. November 20, 2008. http://www.sheknows.com/beauty-and-style/articles/806689/how-to-wear-white-in-winter