What are thoughts about wearing white?

I believe it can be worn all year round. However, 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.

The Basics

The great thing about white is, unlike black, there is a form of 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 is a white for everyone, Types of white,How to Wear White, Style Clinic, Ann Reinten, Image innovators, Image Consultant Training Online, Image Consultant and Stylist Resources

 

There 3 main color considerations:

Temperature

How warm or cool it is. Pure whites are best for Cool and Clears (aka Winters), Soft white for Cool and Muted individuals (aka Summers). Cream to Ivory for the Warm color directions (Warm and Clear / Warm and Muted – aka Spring / Autumn) 

Intensity/Clarity

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). 

Contrast

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 white is 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 white 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.
  • White 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 often been asked about the correct timing of wearing white. The only time I feel that white is not right is to a wedding. It’s the bride’s day and she needs, deserves and wants to stand out. I know many do so for what it’s worth I’ve added my thoughts in the images below. 

Not wearing white after Labor Day is one of those old rules that has dissipated over time – winter or summer it’s fine to wear white if you know how to pull it off. 

Other than that it’s really a matter of practicality i.e. wearing white to somewhere you’ll get dirty is very smart 

Practicalities

  • 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.How to Wear White, Style Clinic, Ann Reinten, Image innovators, Image Consultant Training Online, Image Consultant and Stylist Resources
  •  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 sturdy 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.

How to Wear White, Style Clinic, Ann Reinten, Image innovators, Image Consultant Training Online, Image Consultant and Stylist Resources

ShopBop

  • 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 is sewn shut.

How to Wear White, Style Clinic, Ann Reinten, Image innovators, Image Consultant Training Online, Image Consultant and Stylist Resources

  • Wear lingerie that matches your skin color.

How to Wear White, Style Clinic, Ann Reinten, Image innovators, Image Consultant Training Online, Image Consultant and Stylist Resources

  • White dresses are best when they are not skin tight white will advertise every lump and bump you possess. The best shapes are those that loose and flow over the body or semi-fitted shape.  

How to Wear White, Style Clinic, Ann Reinten, Image innovators, Image Consultant Training Online, Image Consultant and Stylist Resources

  • Wearing unadorned solid white 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.

How to Wear White, Style Clinic, Ann Reinten, Image innovators, Image Consultant Training Online, Image Consultant and Stylist Resources

  • While white dresses are best kept for summer, if you add a jacket they will often work well into early winter.

How to Wear White, Style Clinic, Ann Reinten, Image innovators, Image Consultant Training Online, Image Consultant and Stylist Resources

  • 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.
  • Women with cool, light, 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. 

How to Wear White, Style Clinic, Ann Reinten, Image innovators, Image Consultant Training Online, Image Consultant and Stylist Resources Shopbop

  • Team white in summer with light, bright, metallic or skin toned shoes and in the cooler months team with black or tan.  

How to Wear White, Style Clinic, Ann Reinten, Image innovators, Image Consultant Training Online, Image Consultant and Stylist Resources

ShopBop

Winter White

  • Long gone is the rule of not wearing white in winter. When teamed with, monochromatic highlights, neutral colors and cozy accessories such as fur and boots white quickly becomes a winter highlight. 

How to Wear White, Style Clinic, Ann Reinten, Image innovators, Image Consultant Training Online, Image Consultant and Stylist Resources Want More?

Links on the psychology of white.

Ann2015Blue

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Thank you.
Ann Reinten AICI CIP
Author


2 Comments

  • Cathy Jordan says:

    Here in South Florida, white pants are worn year round. They are considered neutral, like jeans or black pants. If you are heavy, a great way to wear white bottoms is with a black sleeved top. It looks sophisticated and hides all your flaws.

  • Patricia says:

    Hi Ann, the 2 links at the bottom gave 404 error messages :

    White – Empower Yourself with Color Psychology
    Color White: Psychology, Symbolism & Meaning – Sensational Color

    The article is great, but as I am a celadon spring I still don’t feel comfortable wearing white near my face.

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