Whiteout

Tips for wearing this season's palest-of-pale clothing

June 11, 2006|By ELIZABETH LARGE | ELIZABETH LARGE,SUN REPORTER

1. There are two things designers and retailers will tell you about white this summer. It's the hottest (or coolest) trend of the season, and there are no rules about it anymore.

That's almost true. You can certainly wear white before Memorial Day and after Labor Day. But a lot of us could still use a little guidance once we invest in more than a crisp white shirt or a pair of white shorts. With that in mind, we asked people in the fashion business for their rules, tips and suggestions for wearing white from head to toe this summer. Here are their 16 Rules (or Sort-of Rules) for Wearing White.

1You can wear all white to work if the shapes are modern and minimal, says Jamie Ross, creative director for the Doneger Group, which analyzes fashion trends. "Avoid bohemian or peasant styles."

2Mixing and matching different shades of white -- once forbidden -- is a great way to look au courant, our experts agreed. "You look less like a Good Humor man," says Ray Mitchener, buyer and manager for Ruth Shaw in Cross Keys.

3But don't wear warm whites with cool whites, advises Nicole Phelps, executive editor of Style.com.

4Phelps also suggests making sure your whites aren't too sheer. "Stand in front of a mirror with a window or bright light behind you to check." Undergarments should be your skin tone, not white.

5What's great about this season's whites is texture, says Nicole Fischelis, Macy's East women's ready-to-wear fashion director. Something in lace, crochet, eyelet or tone-on-tone stripes looks very new.

6 Are white pantyhose part of the trend? Absolutely not, says Patricia Smith, White House / Black Market's chief merchandising officer. Unless you're a nurse, of course.

7To tan or not to tan? White looks beautiful with color, even if it's faux, but then ethereal beauties like Nicole Kidman and Kirsten Dunst look great in white, too, points out Ross.

8"Women of color should focus on makeup that adds a bronze glow, accented by coral on the cheeks and lips," says Tim Quinn, makeup artist for Giorgio Armani Cosmetics.

9 Forget about the rule that your shoes shouldn't be lighter than your clothes. White shoes with khakis look very up to the minute, says Betsy Dugan, owner of Octavia in Pikesville. "You get a pop of white."

10 "Keep it fluid," suggests Heather McGinley, spokeswoman for Eileen Fisher. Layer lightweights over lightweights and sheers over opaques when you wear all white.

11 It may be obvious, but it needs to be said: "White should be clean, not yellowed or stained," Richard Ostell, creative director of Liz Claiborne Apparel, points out.

12White dresses are big news this summer. Celebrity stylist Jessica Paster suggests wearing them with espadrilles, wedges or leather sandals to make it "an outfit of the moment."

13Avoid white accessories when you're wearing white. "It's too uniformy," says Style.com's Phelps. She likes surprising accent colors: a black belt, bright shoes, a print bag. Macy's Fischelis loves the look of straw with all white.

14On the other hand, the white pocketbook has become the "must have" bag of the season, says Ross. Dugan at Octavia says white bags are "flying out of the store."

15 As for jewelry, Mitchener at Ruth Shaw likes silver and crystal with white. But gold is always an option.

16Most important, keep in mind -- as Fischelis says -- "It's more than just a white shirt this season."

elizabeth.large@baltsun.com

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