I’ve begun updating some of my greatest hits posts so they’re more current. This is one of them!
White, like black, is considered by many to be a tone that “goes with everything.” But in my humble opinion, neither white nor black goes with everything! And just as you should consider how you incorporate black into your outfits, it will help your style seem more refined and sophisticated if you learn to utilize white not as a fallback plan, but as an active color.
Now, there is nothing inherently wrong with this:
Using a white top, tank, or tee as the neutral underlayer. Most often, I see a white top with a solid colored cardigan and black slacks. Nothing is clashing when those pieces are worn together, but nothing is unified either. The outer layer, inner layer, and bottom layer all seem completely separate, nothing tying them together. So here are a few alternatives. As you’ll see, they’re mostly pattern-related!
SOLID WHITE WITH A PATTERN THAT INCLUDES WHITE
Here is a graphic tee with a white design worn with a white jacket and dark bottom. The pop of white in the skull design helps the jacket make sense. This also works with prints and patterns that include white – think a white blouse and yellow skirt worn with a scarf that includes both white and yellow. The print creates a visual bridge.
WHITE AS AN ACCENT
White most often appears in shirt form, but it CAN be worn in other ways. No, really, it can. Here I am again relying on a pattern that includes white – that also draws upon the other colors in my outfit. There’s nothing else white here, but the white in the scarf creates some welcome light and contrast. White doesn’t have to be a platform, it can be an accent, too!
WHITE AS THE BASE COLOR
White skirts, pants, jeans, and shorts have been trendy for a couple of years now, and creating an all-white base for an outfit is a wonderful way to be intentional with your whites. If the white out look is too much for ya, add a colorful vest, blazer, or scarf. Or do as I have here and team a white dress with non-white layers and accessories.
If you’re a stickler for old-fashioned style rules, this suggestion may seem wildly inappropriate for fall. (No white shoes or bottoms after Labor Day, and all that.) Those guidelines are loosening, but if you still abide them just stash this nugget away until Memorial Day.
WHITE IN AN ALL-NEUTRAL MIX
Despite my preference that it be treated as a color, white is, in fact, a neutral. And that means that it will play nicely with most other neutrals. If you’re working with a cool white – a true, bright white with blue undertones – it’s best to stick to like neutrals such as black, cool grays, and cool khakis. Creams and ivories work well with browns and warm grays, and occasionally with black. All-neutral mixes tend to look chic and intentional, a definite plus.
The more I experiment with and explore my personal style, the more I learn that virtually nothing “goes with everything.” The only exception that comes to mind is denim, but more so for social than aesthetic reasons: Decades ago, we all agreed that blue denim was completely neutral, and we’re all still cool with that even though blue isn’t even REMOTELY neutral. True neutrals like black, gray, and our friend white can also be paired with color and treated as non-entities, but I’ve found that outfits really work, shine, and sing when we’re as intentional as possible with our neutrals.