How to wear white in winter

Every year in late December I watch The Holiday, and every year without exception, I go all swoony over Cameron Diaz’s fresh, beautiful, almost-exclusively winter white wardrobe.  Each subsequent January finds me scrambling through my closet trying to mimic her creamy, frothy palette with my own white pieces.  Whites and creams and all their various pale, ethereal cousins make a great departure from the deep, rich jewel tones commonly worn during the holiday season, and work well with increasingly-lightening skin tones throughout the remaining winter months.

With such a simple monochromatic (or is it nonochromatic?) scheme, you’ll be free to get creative with the other fun elements of outfit design.  Check out these tips on lightening and brightening your winter look with lovely hues of brilliant, flattering season-less whites.

white in winter


1. Include a variety of patterns and textures in each outfit. Because you’re riffing on one color (or non-color) you’re free to put together rich, nubby knits and fluffy furs, suede, leather, velvet, silk and denim to create depth and interest. One rule of thumb? Remember, you’re dressing for winter here, so practicality dictates you choose fabrics that provide enough warmth for your climate. Even in the warmest localities, where you can stay plenty toasty in white linen or gauze, balance your look and give a nod of respect to Old Man Winter by including at least one cool-weather piece like a cozy cashmere scarf or suede bootie.

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2. Create unexpected combinations for visual interest and style personality. In no other outfit than a monochromatic one is using the unexpected to give an outfit pizazz more vital. You’re bound only by what you’re comfortable wearing, so feel free to mix up a rugged cream leather biker jacket with a floaty skirt as pictured or a babydoll-sleeved silk shirt with rugged pair of tattered beige boyfriend jeans.

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3. Layer on 50 shades of white. Mix hues like a boss to play with all the beautiful ways that white manifests itself. Toss together beige and cream and ecru and stark white, minding only that the “off whites” all veer “off” in the same direction, meaning towards warm colors like tan and yellow or cool colors like grey or even blue. Most importantly,  choose the hue that most flatters your own coloring for the piece closest to your face and place less flattering shades on the bottom.

4. As always, in any look, be careful choose pieces cut to fit and flatter our own body style, lest you don your lovely white ensemble and end up looking like Bibendum (the Michelin guy) or the StayPuft Marshmallow Man.

Following these simple rules and incorporating your own sense of personal style, you can brighten up the coldest, greyest days in January with lovely, lifting whites.

Will you give white a try this season?  Or do you have your own special wardrobe secrets to fight the winter doldrums?  Tell us about them!

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