We need to talk. Wearing white comes with a lot of myths, doubts, and hesitation. And with so many fickle fashion rules surrounding the color, it’s no wonder we feel more comfortable sticking to darker hues instead. Black clothes have a reputation for being universally flattering and easy to wear, but we’re on a mission to show you that this contrasting counterpart is just as wearable, and possibly—dare we say it—even more chic. Get ready to forget about those outdated style rules and let go of any second thoughts you may have about wearing white, because we’re tackling the most common concerns straight on. Keep scrolling to read our stance, plus our favorite ways to wear summer’s favorite shade.
“White is just too intimidating to wear. What’s a simple way to incorporate it into my summer outfits?”
If the thought of wearing white makes you nervous, try starting off with classic, easy-to-wear pieces.
What to try:
Sticking to things that feel like familiar territory makes incorporating the color into your wardrobe that much easier. We suggest going for a crisp, white button-down or relaxed-fit tee—these essentials will never go out of style, pair well with just about anything, and serve as the perfect canvas for your accessories.
How we’re rocking the white Oxford shirt this summer
We weren’t exaggerating when we said a button-down is a versatile must-have. There are few pieces we lean on more than this white shirt because of its ability to take us from work to weekend. Whether you prefer yours to be constructed from a relaxed cotton or a crisp poplin is up to you, just make sure the fit is tailored properly.
How to wear it:
One of our favorite ways to style a white button-down is with a great pair of jeans—you can never go wrong with the tried-and-true white-and-blue combo. Cuff the sleeves for a perfectly undone look and give the front of your shirt a subtle French tuck, or tie it into a low knot for a fresh twist. Then, bring the outfit together with stand-out accessories. A textured bag instantly heightens the style factor, while brightly colored shoes and jewelry polish off the look beautifully.
“Won’t wearing stark-white clothing look unflattering on me?”
Because there’s such a wide spectrum of shades to choose from (off-white, cream, eggshell, bone, or ecru, just to name a few), some will naturally look more flattering than others.
Find your perfect shade:
If you’re concerned pure white isn’t right for you, don’t fret. For fairer complexions, a shade of white with subtle yellow undertones adds warmth and prevents you from looking washed out. Complement olive complexions flawlessly with a cool white with pink undertones, like a champagne or rum white. Medium complexions look great in creamier shades of white like ivory or vanilla, because the rich yellow tones will keep you from looking too flushed. And if you have a deeper skin tone, just about any shade of white will work in your favor.
White shorts that put us in a summer state of mind
If you’re still not certain wearing an all-white outfit is for you, we suggest starting with pieces you know will look good on you, like a favorite pair of shorts. Then, add a shirt with a fresh print to break up the solid color.
How to wear it:
White shorts have a way of making even the simplest outfit feel instantly polished and chic. To elevate a casual summer wardrobe, start off with a pair that features a high-waist design and frayed edges. A breezy shirt with bold stripes adds lovely contrast and a bit of whimsy. And since no summer outfit is complete without a bit of sun protection, we’re looking to sunglasses and a wide-brimmed hat when headed out to the farmers market or for an afternoon stroll.
“But isn’t an all-white outfit boring?”
Definitely not! An all-white ensemble is anything but bland. Plus, going monochrome makes getting dressed so much easier.
Consider the details:
Instead of dismissing a head-to-toe white outfit because you think it’ll look blah, play around with contrasting textures, delicate detailing, or structured silhouettes for a refreshingly modern take. And just like you would with any other outfit, make sure proportions are balanced and that your accessories work with the rest of your outfit, rather than competing with it.
Make a statement with a white pantsuit
Nothing says confidence like a woman wearing all white. And when that comes in the form of a power suit, you’re sure to turn a few heads.
How to wear it:
Master the sleek and streamlined look of crisp white suiting with a few easy tips. First, you’ll want to make sure the set fits properly. Consider getting your trousers hemmed if they’re too long, or take in the waist if necessary to avoid any added bulk. Then, play up the femininity of your polished look with a silk tank designed with a lustrous finish. This makes for a dramatic combination without being over the top. Finally, accessorize with stacked gold chains, pointy pumps, and a leather tote.
“Are there ever moments when wearing white isn’t appropriate?”
Unless you’re the bride, you’ll definitely want to avoid wearing white as a guest to a wedding. Save your white summer dresses for any other day.
Charming white dresses after our own heart
No dress gets more praise than the LBD (little black dress), and sure, it’s proven itself worthy of being a must-have in every wardrobe. But to breathe fresh life into our summer wardrobes, we think it’s time to shake things up. We’re talking about going on the complete opposite end of the spectrum by appointing white dresses as the new go-to.
How to wear it:
Because this one-and-done piece takes care of most of the outfit planning for you, all that’s left to add are the finishing touches. Wear your dress with sneakers and a crossbody for a sport-meets-chic vibe, or style the same dress for a fancy Sunday brunch with pastel heels and a structured handbag.
“So, can I actually wear white after Labor Day?”
In a word: Absolutely. We’re advocates of wearing white all year long and are kicking this antiquated fashion rule to the curb once and for all.
Did you know?
This fashion faux pas originated at a time when certain items of clothing and colors were reserved for specific occasions. For example, wearing black was only considered appropriate while mourning, and denim was created as a durable fabric meant to withstand the demands of a laborer’s duties. Similarly, wearing white (specifically white linen) was considered to be summer vacation attire—it was the look of leisure. And once the summer months were over, it was time to pack away those light and bright pieces. Thus, the no-wearing white after Labor Day rule was born. Thankfully though, times have changed, and we’re happy to share that wearing white in any season is perfectly appropriate.
Transitioning white denim from late summer to early fall
A pair of white jeans is pretty standard during summer, and foolproof when styled with billowing tops and slip-on shoes.
How to wear it:
As temps start to cool down, we’re grounding the look with richer, earthier tones and more supple textures. To assemble an outfit that works well between seasons, opt for a layered look. A mid-weight jacket with a cropped silhouette over a cotton crewneck creates a sassy combination that feels effortlessly cool. Slide on a pair of flat mules and toughen up the look with dark accessories like a black belt bag and oversized sunglasses.
Now that you’re armed with plenty of style inspiration on how to wear white this summer, the most important thing to know is how to take care of your white clothing. From removing everyday stains to tips on how to preserve your favorite pieces, our guide is covering it all. If there are any specific concerns you may have about wearing white that we didn’t cover already, talk to a personal stylist about finding the right pieces for you.