It’s Summer! Lighter colors suddenly feel appropriate again and the re-appearance of white in our clothing marks the season of sunshine, summer memories and anticipation.
Historically, white clothing originated with the clergy as a way to differentiate their higher status (and their ability to keep it clean) that the masses did not have access to. For men, white still has an association with cleanliness (medical profession) and power and wealth.
J. Hilburn’s Creative Director Simon Kneen, wrote a detailed blog post on the feelings that the color white evolks, the history of white, and the wonderful relationship J.Hilburn has with mills of Italy who produce pure white fabrics. He says “a white shirt is the perfect summer uniform” and in summertime linens and poplin “whites act as a luminous frame to the face”. Lovely!
How to think about your white shirt
Men who wear white shirts to the office 250+ days a year may wish to choose anything BUT white when dressing down for summer. I suggest that white shirts be categorized in your mind using these components:
- What does the fabric feel like? Is it a tightly woven, medium weight twill (like a dress shirt) or is it a lightweight fabric such as a chambray? Does it have any of the wonderful textural qualities that the addition of linen fibers bring, or is it seersucker with it’s classic waffling in the fabric for airflow?
- What does the collar and cuff feel like? Dress shirts are made with a stiff internal facing that keeps the collar and cuffs crisp throughout the day. Summer whites however are more often constructed with a “soft” collar and cuff – all the better to be lazily rolled up.
- What styling options were selected? Dress shirts are pretty standard – classic or button down collar, barrel cuff, pocket if you use it, and a monogram if you like it. Summer white shirts are good with more casual styling, double stitching, double pockets (good for coverage when worn with no tee shirt), short length to leave out, and short sleeves.
For men, take a look at this J.Hilburn white linen shirt accented with khaki buttons and collar tape – it’s practically calling out for tan shorts and a gin and tonic… Here is a link to a custom fitted white performance knit polo and 5 pocket casual pants. What a great look! Get the shoes at Allen Edmonds.
Women have even more white options
These include jumpers, rompers, dresses and more. Pinterest actually has a group called All White Outfits with 34,000 followers… impressive. White is a color of class, in that it clearly must be fresh and new. Plan on a new white shirt and knit tops for every season. I did some digging and picked some of my favorite white looks for women:
- This Town and Country article “Best White Blouses” highlights 3 lovely options – take a look at the silhouette on the Chico’s blouse in particular – very flattering.
- Here is a Lela Rose dress from Nordstrom. SO beautiful, but a bit expensive. Get it if you can, it’s gorgeous and would make a perfect day date dress. This Eliza J from Lord and Taylor is more affordable. Nice lines and the ivory is good on skin tones that are washed out in pure white.
- Something that frustrates me is when plus size women hide behind dark colors, thinking that “dark recedes and light attracts” which is true, but your personal sparkle wearing this slimming, sheer Jessica London tunic over white will be the star of the show. White note: when I shop for mature or heavier women I am careful about buying white pants that are substantial enough in fabric weight, some lighter fabrics are not flattering if there are lumps and bumps (who doesn’t).
- Where better to shop white than White House Black Market I thought – and they do have a nice selection. This V neck tee should be in every woman’s closet. Unless you are model shaped, avoid the one with the big bow on the tummy
If you would like to know which whites work for you – skin tone, silhouette and shape of the garment, fabric texture and more, let me be your styling resource. I’d love to help you add the freshness and playfulness of white to your summer wardrobe.
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