Roberta popped this question into the suggestion box:
Wearing winter white, in particular shoes. I think ivory looks elegant, but how not to look like the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man? And what color shoes? Black seems harsh, and white or ivory seems nurse-y or at least impractical in the winter. Ack.
And now that winter is basically over, I’m finally getting around to tackling it. I have no idea how I missed this request for so long. Please don’t fire me.
Style rules are loosening overall, but the one I’ve seen get the loosey-goosey-est of late is the one that says “no white pants or shoes after Labor Day or before Memorial Day.” It’s your prerogative to continue following that rule if you’d prefer to do so – I did until very recently – but if you feel ready to flout it, now’s the time. Rather hilariously, white has been a “trendy” color for several years running, and it’s definitely fair game for year-round wear. If you don’t believe me, consult any fashion magazine you can lay your hands on.
Now, winter white is generally more of an off-white than a bright, and as its name indicates, has been worn during the winter for ages. But it can be challenging, as Roberta points out. So here are some tips.
Wear winter white in a neutral mix
Angie from You Look Fab up wears LOADS of winter white, but usually adds a few touches of black. And she looks sharp. Winter white is still a white variant, which means it should be treated intentionally. It will look marvelous in neutral mixes, paired with patterns that include winter white/off-white, or as an accent. Neutral mixes are likely to feel the most natural, so consider pairing with black, gray, brown, olive, or tan. Burgundy and navy – both of which rest on the neutral/color border – also work.
Wear winter white in small doses
Roberta asked how to avoid looking marshmallow-y, and my suggestion is to avoid wearing winter white from top to tail. Angie does it beautifully, no doubt, and there’s nothing Stay-Puft about her. But many other people – myself included – would be hard-pressed to assemble such a chic-looking ensemble utilizing quite as much winter white. Go for winter white trousers with a black top, leopard belt, and cognac booties, or a winter white dress with a dark necklace,charcoal tights, and brown boots. In most cases, a little dab will do ya.
Wear winter white in structural extremes
To cash in on the inherent elegance of winter white, opt for very flowy or very structured pieces. Tee shirts, casual pants, and pullover sweaters might not cash in on the elegance potential of this color. Think structured blazers, sheath dresses, or skinny pants on the tailored end. Oversized scarves, billowy silk blouses, and maxi skirts on the unstructured end. This color can be surprisingly statement-y if you let it.
In terms of footwear, it all depends on the rest of the outfit. If you’re mixing with black, black shoes should work. In other neutral-heavy cases, cognac and burgundy are all good choices. Angie went all-out with winter white booties and since the shoes themselves are edgy, they don’t look “nurse-y” as Roberta feared. Gray is a solid choice, too, if you don’t happen to have shoes or boots in off-white, and won’t look as contrast-y and harsh as black.
Winter white can be transitioned into spring and summer despite its name. After all, it IS just a name. Once the sun comes out, call it “ivory” instead and pair with pastels, patterns, and denim for the warmer months.
Image courtesy Nordstrom
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Originally posted 2013-03-11 06:32:36.