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Posts Tagged ‘White’

It’s a Nice Day to Start Again

Nautical look (Subtitled: Suck it in, honey!)

Nautical look (Subtitled: Suck it in, honey!)

Yesterday was Labor Day.  As far as I’m concerned, summer has two full weeks left (I like to hold out for the equinox).   For those of you in schools, though, it’s back-to-school time, and summer is over.

The important question isn’t exactly when summer ends.  It’s whether we’re supposed to stop wearing white now.  Time magazine has a useful article on the “no white after Labor Day” rule.  Apparently, the rule had a pragmatic origin (white is cooler in summer). It evolved into a high-society fashion distinction between seasons (white for summers at the country/beach, dark colors for the city “season” of fall and winter). Then, like many things, it became entrenched when it was adopted, perhaps clumsily, by the middle class.  Traditional white for brides is the same way:  It started in the 19th century in imitation of Queen Victoria’s gown, and brides took it on not to represent virginity, but wealth and fashion.   

Bridal white, updated. Of course the association of white with purity isn’t arbitrary– white is an ancient color of renewal. But color is awesome. Bottom line: wear whatever you want, it’s your day!

A white wedding dress was the ultimate extravagance because it could not be sufficiently cleaned to wear twice;  only the wealthiest brides would have a dress they wore only once.   So, like many things (don’t get me started on diamond rings) the fashion caught hold in the 20th century through commercial marketing.  Everyone thought they had to have it (or prove they could afford it), it took on the imprimateur of cultural necessity, and stuck around until very recently.  Now that we’re coming to our senses, traditional bridal gowns can incorporate color and no one (hopefully) freaks that you are making an extreme statement against marriage or (yikes are you kidding me?) premarital abstinence.

So can we wear white in fall?  Since I just got my white jeans on an end-of-season sale in August , I’m going to keep wearing them as long as it’s sunny.  It’s supposed to be in the 80’s on Saturday, and I’m going to wear something fresh and bright that makes no concessions: “hell yes it’s still summer.”  Ask me again on September 23.

Jackie Kennedy in what might be white shoes, I cant tell.  She could probably pull them off, but not me.

Jackie Kennedy in what might be white shoes, I can't tell. She could probably pull them off, but not me.


White shoes
, I’m less sure about.  I have trouble imagining white shoes that don’t look cheap.  Is that because they easily get dirty and show wear?  Is it because I went to grade school among troubled little girls who sometimes ran around in dirty socks and oversized high heels (and I envied them?) Maybe they’re just not the current fashion, so they look wrong to me.  Really I don’t want white on my feet, it’s silly to draw the eye there.  It’s hard to match legs/hose, although if I were forced to wear white shoes I’d go for nude nylons (my fabulous friend Catherine recommends Donna Karan The Nudes, which were also endorsed recently by Oprah’s Adam Glassman .)

White doesn’t go with everything, so be careful with it.  I’d call it a “false neutral.” White might not have its own hue to clash with colors, but the tone is bright and creates high contrast.  This can be cool and classy (a white/navy nautical look), or it can make you look like you’re headed for the gym (a white camisole under a blouse or dress makes it way casual).  If you’re looking for light-colored neutral bottoms, khaki and lighter grays are easier and more versatile . Also, pure white is a bit severe on the skin, especially for Ladies Approaching Forty — think ivory, cream, or warmer pale shades near your face.

Men look killer sexy in white t-shirts, but that is because they look like underwear.  Don’t wear them out of the house, unless you are trying to sell me perfume in a magazine ad. Except you, Hugh, you’re fine.

Is this getting old yet? Wait, its my blog.  Nevermind.

Is this getting old yet? Wait, it's my blog. Nevermind.

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