5 Tips for Wearing White

By Diana Pemberton-Sikes

There's something cool and refreshing about white clothing that makes it chic all summer long. Since it reflects light and absorbs perspiration, making it less noticeable than other colors, the wearer looks cool and collected, even when the temperature soars. Small wonder that white has been a long-time favorite of residents of hot, tropical climates.

Now that the temperatures are rising all over the Northern Hemisphere, it's time to take a quick look at some basic guidelines for wearing white. While some of the old rules have relaxed in recent years, there are still some factors to consider when wearing white:

1. Always Wear Flesh-Colored Undergarments

Years ago, the rule was to wear white under white. Not anymore. Since white bra, panty, and camisole lines tend to show through, your undergarments will be less obtrusive in flesh tones. Look for pieces that closely match your natural skin tone to create a clean, seamless look.

2. Be Careful Where You Put Your White

Since white reflects light and makes things appear larger, don't wear solid white on your largest body parts only, like your chest, hips, or thighs, because it will make those areas look bigger. Instead, opt for white monochromatic (all one color) ensembles, which elongate, or wear white on a small body part, or use white to accentuate a figure asset.

3. Steer Clear of White Hosiery

Unless you're a nurse, a bride, or under age 5, white hosiery has no place in your wardrobe. Yes, it was popular 20 years ago thanks to Diana, the late Princess of Wales, because it did for her what it does for everyone: it "chopped her up" visually and made her look shorter. Which is fine if you're a tall princess trying to look shorter than your prince - but not so great if you're short, medium, or plus size, trying to look taller and slimmer.

4. Think Twice About Wearing White Shoes

White shoes scream "summer!" and are a popular choice for warm weather months. But since white shoes make your feet look bigger and can also visually "chop up" your leg and make you look shorter, they may not be the best choice. Look for shoe styles that elongate, or steer clear of white shoes entirely and opt for flesh-colored shoes instead.

5. Don't Wear White to a Wedding

Unless you're the bride or in the bridal party, don't wear all-white to a wedding. While a white blouse worn under a different-colored garment is acceptable, (like a pastel suit, for example), the tradition still holds firm: white is reserved for the bridal party. Don't try to compete with the bride on her big day.

Finally, if you don't like the way white looks on you or if white just isn't your color, try an off-white shade instead like ivory, eggshell, or oyster. Pure white looks good on only a fraction of the population, so you are not alone. Try another light shade instead.

Wearing white is a great way to look chic, stay cool, and enjoy the warm weather months. If you employ these tips when you dress, you can look calm, cool, and collected - even on the hottest days.

Diana Pemberton-Sikes is a wardrobe and image consultant and author of "Wardrobe Magic," an ebook that shows women how to transform their unruly closets into workable, wearable wardrobes. Visit her online at http://www.fashionsavvy.com

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