How To Wear White

White was everywhere last autumn as the spring collections came down the runway. From influential new designers like Alexander Wang (whose collection I am moderately obsessed with) to super-edgy designers like Rick Owens and Ann Demeulemeester to classic luxury designers like Bottega Veneta, Chloe and Thakoon – every was basking in the brightest of whites.

While, one one hand, I am utterly excited about such a shift in shading preference, one the other hand, white is scary! It can get dirty, and it reflects light, adding water can cause decades of psychiatric sessions… It’s just a scary color.

That being said, my fear will not stop me from considering it. I love the way that white was played with for spring, my favorite aspect being the versatility of each piece. While white is a scary, bright, look-at-me color – I have to remember that it’s also a neutral. Of course it’s versatile! I have a feeling, though, that if I were to run around town in that Chloe dress, I’d have a Savannah accent by the end of the day.

Being that I have little to no experience with white (I had a hobo purse once, it was covered in pen ink and coffee by the end of the week. Ah, youth.), I stuck away to the Vogue Spring/Summer 2011 archives for some inspiration. Below are my favorite style strategies:

Suit Up

That suit, specifically, is by Vanessa Bruno and is wonderful looking. The separates are excellent on their own, but aren’t horrifyingly campy when used together.I like how casual the crepe fabric in Vanessa Bruno’s suit looks – definitely more than casual but less than formal. That’s right where I like to be.

1. Blazer by Sag Harbor, $30.80 at Kohl’s
2. Skeleton Heart Tee, $40 at Topshop
3. Cotton Capri Trouser, $37.25 at FigLeaves
4. Pieces Tuja Rope Plait Belt, $16.14 at ASOS
5. Curles Oxford, $80 at Aldo

I’ve been in love with the idea of flat oxfords with cropped suit pants since I saw this photo of Leandra Medine (aka Man Repeller) for Elle Magazine.

Layer Textures

This actually works with any color, but using white gives you a very Morgan-Freeman-As-God-In-Bruce-Almighty look, which is of course ultra-chic. The image used to inspire this style was taken right off the runway of Alexander Wang. He pretty much aced the white look this season, hands down. Laying textures helps add dimension and awesomeness to monochromatic clothes.

1. Top by Danielle Fiesoli, $66 at Yoox
2. Bobble Cardigan, $80 at TopShop
3. Braided Belt, $7.99 at Tilly’s
4. Sateen Pencil Skirt, $49.90 at The Limited
5. Toffee Pump in White by Jump, $49.92 at Endless

Pretty much every version of those shoes need to be mine. The navy, “Cloud” (so pretty!), white AND black.

Bright Accents

This is definitely the style that I am most comfortable with. A bright pop of color will chic out any monotone ensemble. Plus, with a base color like white, you can pretty much do whatever you want! The “little white dress” is a bit everywhere this season, so feel free to doll up in the virginal shade and pop it off with some brights.

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1. Embossed Skirted Dress, $56 at TopShop
2. Triple Flower Belt in Coral, $22.95 at New York & Company
3. Academy Sweater in Heather Rock, $49.90 by Madewell
4. Color Block Suede Belt, $17.03 at ASOS
5. Axle Maxi Dress, $75 at AllSaints
6. Coazter Wedge by madden girl, $44.95 at DSW
7. Oak Sandals by Rocket Dog, $69.95 at Zappos
8. Tricia Wedge by Brigette Bailey for Pour La Victoire, $89.90 at Zappos
9. Linen Blend Shorts in Bright White, $24.50 at Old Navy

Dying for those floral sandals (what is happening to me?).

Layer Tones

This is probably the easiest of all of the styles because you don’t have to run out and grab yourself a whole new (white) wardrobe. It gives off a polished-yet-relaxed feel that can be translated into everything from formal to casual, work to happy hour. The different shades give depth to an otherwise flat color story. I dig it.

1. Ivory Beaded Sweater, $85 from TopShop
2. Indio Leather Tote in Linen, $99 from The Sak
3. Canvas Combat Boots, $32.80 from Forever 21
4. Presentation Skirt in Soft Dove, $98 from J. Crew
5. Silk Safari Shirt in Parchment, $98 from Madewell

I should note that I really, really wanted to find some soft, grey socks (I don’t think I’d wear flesh-colored boots without breaking up the color. Yes, I am that color, shut it), but couldn’t. And, yes, the boots are Forever 21 – can you believe it? Me, choosing F21 on purpose. But they were truly the boots that were the closest to what I saw in my head that were under $100. Promise. And that beaded sweater – the beads are in the shoulders. I was dying to show you all the sweater, so everything else came second. That sweater is my new “skinny pants”, except instead of needing to lose weight, I need to get a sugar daddy.

So, which is your favorite way to wear white? Will you brave the spring trend and try it out?

  • I would love to be able to pull off a slim white pantsuit but that’s not happening. The Jump pumps are so cute! I ordered a pair of Jump ankle boots once and they were so comfy but I didn’t like them up close.
    Layering tones is the easiest. There have been so many pale neutrals being mixed on the runways and I really love the natural look – greys, camel, cream, khaki, white… so chic!

  • Sarah

    I love me a white suit but have yet to find the perfect pair of white pants to pull it off. Loving those floral sandals as well.

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  • Sarah: Aren’t they amazing?? They’re a total departure from what I thought was “my style”… But I’m going with it!

  • White has always been scary for me- especially since I was formerly quite fluffy and still have a little fluff to lose. I’m always scared that I’m going to end up looking like the giant marshmallow from Ghostbusters. I think I could possibly pull off some of the looks you’ve described, though… maybe? I’m going to try it!

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  • White for me always seems refreshing and is perfect for spring.
    xoxo
    Marian

  • I go for bright accents too!!! white on white isn’t too bad either…but I’m fair skinned (and hardly get a tan)…so it washes me out!

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  • Your take on 2011 fashion is right on track. I manufacture a yoga clothing line and My best seller this spring is a pearl colored Butterfly top with dolman sleeves and boat neck.
    http://yoganastix.net/images/Butterfly%20blouse%20pearl.jpg

  • I love this! This is the best post on how to wear white that I have seen!!!

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