Fashion Rule Isn’t So Black and White

White FashionTradition, Comfort and Social Status are Guideposts

Author: Brad Schultz

White, the simplest of colors; yet, governed by the most specific rules of fashion.  Questions of when to wear it, what to wear it with, and when to put it away are still commonly debated. In today’s quickly evolving style world, however, do you still have to adhere to these rules?

There are many speculations as to why white became the center of so many strict fashion guidelines.  One common explanation is practical: For centuries, white was worn during the summer months to keep cool.  The absence of air conditioning and traditional ‘formal’ clothing caused a need to wear lighter clothing to beat the summer heat. Lighter clothing meant lighter colors, i.e. white, and lighter fabrications, such as linen and cotton, as opposed to the grays, blacks, and woolen fabrics of autumn and winter months.

Nevertheless, rarely is a fashion ‘rule’ practical.  Instead, many historians believe that the rules surrounding white fashion may be symbolic.  In the late 1800s to early 1900s, white became the summer uniform of the rich. While laborers, who couldn’t afford to vacation, donned their drab black suits, the entitled would flaunt their money by wearing white to distinguish themselves from the status-quo and show off the privileges their life provided.

With the modern day emphasis on style being more of an individualized concept than of people blindly following advice, you might feel there are no hard-and-fast rules to follow when it comes to fashion. Still, if you’re more of a traditionalist, here are some guidelines to help you incorporate more white into your wardrobe:

white fashion 2

Black and White: Timeless and traditional, black and white offers the sharpest of contrast, yet a simplistic aesthetic.  Black and white evokes a feeling of order, power, and control.  It seems the easiest to wear, on the widest range of body types.

With a pop of color: White creates the perfect base to accentuate a statement piece.  A brightly colored blouse, bag, or a killer pair of heels are sure to stand out against a white canvas.  This makes the look more fresh, artsy and attention-grabbing.

Monochromatic: An all white look creates an air of freshness, cleanliness and confidence.  Consider wearing one piece, such as a dress or jumpsuit, to create a leaner line and slimmer appearance.  Play with textures, proportions and materials to get a visually interesting look.

White blazer: A tailored jacket follows the body’s curves, creating a flattering silhouette. It can be dressed up or down and, in white, is a fresh take on a classic piece. Pair it with navy and gold as a perfect nod to this season’s nautical trend.

Basics: It goes without saying, a plain white tee, white jeans, or classic white button-down can, and should, be a staple in a modern closet.  Perfect for layering and year round use, these pieces are quick and easy.

Accessories: If you are not comfortable wearing white clothing, try wearing it as an accessory.  A white necklace or earrings create a focal point and bring attention to your face and eyes, really helping you stand out.  Adding simple white accessories, such as a handbag, pair of shoes, or scarf, will freshen up and breathe new life into your existing wardrobe.


Screen Shot 2015-04-17 at 9.20.41 AMBrad Schultz is a fashion designer and sewing teacher in Gainesville, FL specializing in special occasion apparel. His work is a fusion of clever design and beautiful, couture-quality execution. Each dress is a thoughtful collaboration between the designer and the client celebrating her unique beauty, style, and personality.

Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr

Phototography: Light Feather Media
Model: Kara Winslow

Related posts