White makes magic in summer shades

July 03, 1991|By Pat Morgan | Pat Morgan,Knight-Ridder Newspapers

White. The color of purity. Think virginal brides and babies in christening gowns.

The color of concealment. The color of summer. Think white-sand beaches and white-hot heat.

Better yet, think white linen, white cotton, white silk.

In the world of fashion, white doesn't have to be white. It can be ivory, eggshell or cream. Vanilla, blond, or snow. Cloud, ice or fog.

Best of all, it can be cool. Light colors, light fabrics. The better to deflect the sun's rays with, my dear. (And for those who tan, no color shows off sun-kissed skin better.)

White has always been a warm-weather perennial; this season it's become virtually ubiquitous.

One reason for the popularity of white: its versatility. White T-shirts and jeans go sporty. White satin and sequins go formal. A white linen suit goes to work. A great white shirt goes anywhere.

Even better, they all go together. Mixing shades of white with other barely-there desert neutrals gives textural interest to a monochromatic ensemble. A touch of silver (shots of gold thread or silver sandals, for instance) adds elegance without disrupting the palette.

One caution: Because white is the simplest of all shades, clothing flaws are more difficult to hide. Poorly-made clothes look especially cheap in white. An awkward fit is immediately apparent. Choose white garments with care, and with utmost attention to detail.

Because white is by definition neutral, it's easy to go as elaborate as one wishes with fabric details and accessories. But the most modern approach keeps it all in the color family: Cotton eyelet, ribbed knits, pearl embroidery and fringe; frosty crystal jewelry or oversized pearls.

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