5 Tips for Wearing White

All the Year Long!

Happy day, Reader Dearest!

Memorial Day weekend is come and gone.

For those of you who don’t live in the US, the long Memorial Day Weekend is the unoffical start of summer. Pools open. Schools are letting out or wrapping up. White clothes will be coming out of storage and into the closet.

Which means it’s a good time for a post with some tips for wearing white.

TBPH, as a teen and young woman, I never wore white.

Black was so much more cool and (believe it or not) very few others dressed in black. So I did my own thing and wore all black all the year long.

Now, it’s the reverse! Get ready for the non-sequitur.

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Back to our regularly scheduled programming: I wear white all year long, but not everyone does. it’s a personality thing… If you find white tempting but have concerns about how to make white work for you, here are five tips to try!

Find (Or Make) YOUR White

White is white, right? Wrong. I don’t like to get all know-it-all-y but there are more whites than you can shake a stick at. If you don’t believe me, pop on over to the paint department at your nearest home improvement store and get lost in the paint chips.

Fortunately, you aren’t trying to find your white at the paint store, just the clothing store. When I drape a color client, we look at a variety of whites to find the one that works best. Think of three basic whites, bright white, soft white and an ivory. These three have parallels to the different light bulbs available! Bright white is glaring and harsh. Soft white is easier on the eyes and warm white cast an ivory glow.

There are four pages of whites on the Benjamin Moore website alone!

When shopping, hold the white garment for consideration up to your eyes. Is the white similar to the whites of your eyes? If so, it’s probably a good white for you. If the item looks brighter or more yellow than your eyes, keep looking. If you already own it, make it your white!

How do you make a white yours? Too-yellow whites are hard to shift, but if the item is cotton, bleach can be worth a try. Just don’t overbleach and burn your garment! More frequently, I find warm complexioned women need to soften/yellow their whites to blend with their coloring. You can use fabric dye (just a bit) and repeat until you achieve the effect you desire OR you can try tea dying the item. Yes, tea. Like the kind you drink. I have a memory of my mom tea-dyeing curtains to soften the white.

Add a POP of Dark

If you feel like white drains your coloring, the kind of white may not be the problem! If the Overall Value of your coloring is deep, you will look better in deeper colors. That doesn’t mean you can’t wear white, it just means that you need a touch of something dark near your face to help create harmony with your own coloring.

Adding a dark topper, scarf or necklace can help bring the Overall Value more in sync with yours. If you have dark hair that frames your face, you may find you feel better in white when your hair is pulled back!

Create a Column

Wearing all white is often more flattering than wearing White + Black or White + Navy or White + Color. It creates a column of color that is great for the vertically challenged among us. White + Dark or Bright creates a High Value Contrast that flatters a High Value Contrast coloring. If your Value Contrast is low and your coloring light, an all white look is a great choice! (And a favorite of stylish Italians, male and female.) Don’t worry about your whites being perfectly matched. Variations of color and texture add interest to your outfit! Especially when you wear white all the year long!

Splash with Color OR Pattern (Beyond Stripes!)

A quick Pinterest search for White Jeans Look (or Outfit) makes me weep. White + Black. White + Denim. White + Brown. White + Olive/Camo. Let’s give bonus points to the White + Animal Print (bottom center)! It may be neutral but at least it’s interesting!

There are SO many other colors and patterns to choose from! Let’s get creative. Choose brighter colors if your Value Contrast is high, softer colors if your VC is low. White is a blank canvas that you can do almost anything with… Artists know that white space is powerful.

When I pulled my Summer Capsule Wardrobe, I was taken aback by all the white shirts! Could White Shirt Summer be the new Hot Girl Summer? LOL!

Carry Chalk

Remember how I said above that I never used to wear white? Well, it wasn’t until I joined the Navy and a white uniform became part of daily life for half the year did I learn how to wear white. I learned to look before sitting down. To not drag my hems when getting into a vehicle. And to be VERY careful when drinking coffee. I learned to carry a piece of chalk with me. Yes, chalk. You can cover up small stains with chalk and it helps absorb the stain until you get home and to a washing machine! No, the Tide pen did not exist at this point in history! For more style tips I learned from my time in uniform, check out these posts!

How About You?

Are you a fan of white? If so, for a season? Or all the year? Does a column of white feel scary? What color(s) do you like best combined with white? Do tell… I love to hear your ideas!

Stylishly yours,



    Such great tips for wearing white and keeping it that way. My older daughter has a gorgeous ivory brocade dress one Christmas and I was trying to find a bow to match it. Wanted the same ivory color. We looked high and low for the perfect shade. One of my daughter’s friends was along for a shopping trip when I was searching for the bow, and she handed me a white bow and said “There, what’s the big deal.” She did not get it at all!!

    Love the tip about matching white to the white of your eyes. I have warm skin tones so will keep that in mind in selecting white tops. Going to buy some chalk for the sole purpose of saving my clothes. I bet it would help absorb and remedy grease stains I sometimes get.

    Love your great white shirt dress. Have looked and looked for one similar with no luck. You look so cool and put together. Gorgeous.

    • Liz K

      Thank you, Leslie! Glad you found the tips helpful! Old Navy has some cute off-white summer dresses that might work for you… (I found a darling white one this weekend. Light and cottony which is good since our temps are supposed to be in the hundreds for the next week or so. Ugh.

  • Kathleen McDermott

    I love white. White tees, blouses, jeans, skirts and dresses. I’m a Summer and need true white – no yellow or beige undertone. I can wear bright white very well. Also love white sandals and sneaks. White just looks so fresh and clean, especially an all white outfit in the spring and summer. Also love white with khaki or stone and pastels. I find it extremely difficult to find true white cardigans and knit tops. Don’t know what that is. I love all of your white outfits.

    • Liz K

      In the seasons typing, I fall into summer as well, Kathleen! But bright white is a little harsh on my coloring and looks better after a few washes. Bright white knits have two issues. (1) Cotton isn’t bright white, even when bleached, and (2) Bright whites don’t sell as well because they are less flattering for most AND they look dingy very quickly. It may not seem like a big deal, but packing, shipping and getting items to the shop floor are great ways to pick up dust and dirt.

      • Kathleen McDermott

        Ah, I knew there had to be a reason. Thanks! P.S. Forgot to say another reason for loving white. It looks cool and actually is cooler to wear than colors since it reflects rather than absorbs heat.

  • Sally in St Paul

    I do like white, especially white tops, and I think soft white is my favorite to wear. I love seeing these white columns on you…they look terrific! I can do a white column with a white skirt (I have one that is textured and lined that I will happily wear year-round) but I still haven’t found white pants/jeans that are thick and opaque enough for me to feel comfortable with how they look.

    Your Pinterest search made me laugh in a sad kind of way because…I don’t know how their algorithm works, but it seems like there are about 500 colorful pins from like 2012 that show up over and over again and a million almost identical-looking kind of boring outfits. So yeah, I’m not surprised by what turned up for your white jeans outfit ideas, but man, what a pitiful little slice of all the various options that are available!

    I liked seeing your outfit with the two shades of white together. My default is to think that the whites should match, so it helps to see examples of multiple whites in an outfit.

    • Liz K

      I’m with you, Sally! Finding white pants with enough body is a challenge! I love a great white jean, but most don’t pass the test. Im glad I’m not the only one thinking there are some bland looks out there…


    Liz, I love a classic white shirt!! But, I’m a True Spring so I look best in ivory. For blouses I do by ivory.!! Liz, I need to let you know I didn’t get my day three Style Splash yesterday. I did receive day 4 today!! I don’t know what happen!! Thank you for your help!!

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