March 14, 2011
White is the New BlackTags: black, Coco Chanel, white blouse
Have you seen the movie “Coco Before Chanel?” It chronicles the early years of Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel’s life up to the launch of her career as one of the most important style icons of the 20th century. We have Chanel to thank for saying “no” to corsets, stiff fabrics and large, awkward hats that restricted women’s ability to breathe and move easily, but I didn’t know that she introduced the idea to women of wearing black on occasions other than when in mourning. Imagine how limited our wardrobes would be if we couldn’t wear black! This Spring, along with black, we are seeing lots of neutral colors in fashion, including grey and silver, cream, a very pale pink, and ecru, a yellowish-brown color. The dominant color for tops, however, is White. And yes, it has been OK to wear white before Memorial Day (and after Labor Day) for awhile now.
White tops come in a myriad of forms this season, from ruffled cotton blouses to long stretch cotton tunics, and you’ll see them with rolled up sleeves, zippers, knit panels and embellishments galore. Here are some of my thoughts on how to wear this versatile color.
1. The laws of science say that light colors make areas appear to expand and dark colors to contract. So if your largest area is on top, wear white in smaller doses to minimize your size on top. If your skin tone is very fair, combine your white top with colored clothes from your palette either underneath or over top, to keep from looking washed out, or choose an off-white shade instead. It’s always good to add color to a white blouse/black pant combination so you don’t look like you wait tables in a restaurant!
2. The bitter truth is that white clothes require extra care. If a top is made from cotton, it should look crisp, so, if ironing is not your thing, invest in a good dry cleaner. Be cognizant of makeup or other stains getting on the collar, and be prepared to replace a white top when the underarm area begins to yellow.
3. Think outside the box when you wear a white blouse. Instead of always buttoned up and worn by itself over pants, wear it:
- as a jacketing piece with an under pinning or fitted shell under it. One option is to add a skinny belt on top of the shell.
- with other layering pieces to add dimension, such as a colored underpinning underneath, then a vest, sweater or t-shirt over top.
- under a jacket or sweater with the bottom of the shirt hanging out underneath.
This photo shows one of a myriad of white tops we have at the store.