I’ve always been bemused by the “thou must not wear white before Memorial Day and after Labour Day” (and for those readers who don’t live in the USA, that means end of May and beginning of September) mantra that I read in books and ‘style rules’ lists from American authors and purveyors of style.
I wonder if this is still a relevant style rule, and why it has become so important in the American culture? And to an outsider, is it any white garment or just white shoes? Certainly in Australia we have no such rules about wearing white. And looking at the catwalk trends for Autumn/Winter 2012-2013 designers don’t shy away from white clothing in winter.
So what are the modern ways of wearing white and what is seasonally appropriate?
Let’s talk about it as a colour first.
- Crisp white is a light, cool and bright colour that draws attention to itself and makes things appear larger and more advancing. If you have warm colouring it’s never going to be your best colour.
- Soft white is a light neutral that can be worn by most people. It is still very advancing and will make things appear larger and more obvious.
- Cream is a warm white and is best for those with warm colouring. As it is so light it is advancing and make things appear larger.
OK, I’m never keen on white shoes, except for the bride at a wedding, and even then I’d probably prefer silver or a very light gold, rather than bright white.
Why no white shoes? Unless you have lovely little pixie feet, it makes them appear bigger than they are. There are plenty of other light coloured shoe options that will draw less attention and make your legs look longer, and go with your light coloured outfits than white. Nude, beige, matte gold or silver all fulfill this requirement.
Light Blondes can get away with white shoes as they relate to their hair. But still there are many other light coloured shoe options that you can try.
Skirts or Dresses
White dresses do mostly say ‘summer’ so are best worn when the weather is warm. Depending on your location, when that is, is weather dependent. If you live in Florida, Singapore, Brisbane or anywhere that doesn’t have a traditional winter, I see no reason to ever stop wearing white. Some places get colder faster and so you are likely to stop wearing white earlier. Other places are warmer longer and so white remains an appropriate and relevant colour.
The fabric weight also affects how appropriate the garment is. Anything light or gauzy is for warmer weather. But a white garment in a heavier weight is still cooler weather appropriate.
There has been a trend over the past year for white jackets and blazers. These, with their weightier fabric, are year round appropriate. They aren’t appropriate for formal business wear as white doesn’t give you the gravitas you need in business. But to wear in a less formal environment they can work well.
A winter white coat has always been a stylish statement, ensure you have it dry cleaned regularly to keep it looking fresh.
These are always year round appropriate.
White and really light colours tend to work better in summer than winter. So as the weather gets cooler, it may be time to swap your white bag for something a little darker.
I’d love to know your thoughts on the white rule – please share them in the comments!