Winter White: How to Break Fashion’s Oldest Rule

Banning white after Labor Day is a popular style rule, but rules in fashion are meant to be broken and wearing white is one of the few begging to be tested. Though it may seem daunting in its starkness, white is actually very wearable with the right combination of shape, cut and texture.

From Left: Model in Derek Lam F/W '13; Model in Proenza Schouler F/W '13
From Left: Model in Derek Lam F/W ’13; Model in Proenza Schouler F/W ’13

Some of the season’s best uses of winter white were shown on the Fall/Winter 2013 runway and are currently being worn by the style savvy this season. Derek Lam’s collection featured a pair of winter white wide-leg trousers with oversized utilitarian pockets and a cozy white sweater topped with a twisted wrap over the sleeves. Proenza Schouler also followed the trend, sporting a textured oversized coat layered over a buttoned dress. These designs are just a few of the many that set the precedent for how to wear wintertime whites, and they prove summer is not the only season for the striking shade.

The look shines through best in different shades and layers, be it an ivory sweater matched with skinny jeans of the same shade, or a soft eggshell white dress under a bone-colored overcoat.  Because of the abundance of fabric in the colder temperatures, it is best to stick with clean, structured and classic lines for white outfits. If the clothing is too baggy or complicated, one may wind up resembling a massive snowball. Sleek clothing choices can lengthen the body and makes the outfit look more continuous from head to toe. Speaking of toes, brown pumps firmly set a winter weather tone for the outfit and are more practical for the dirty New York Streets.

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(Click photo for more information)

For a season grounded in thick textured fabrics, winter whites make for fun outerwear in the form of chunky knits, dense felts and fluffy furs. TopShop offers a fleece coat that provides both warmth and style. For a splurge, fur is always a great choice. House of Fraser features a white faux fur scarf that is timeless and exudes luxury without a luxurious price tag. Choosing accessories with metallic accents can also add an edgy and futuristic element that will take the look to the next level while keeping it casual for streetwear. For inspiration, look to model and street style icon Cara Delevingne and channel this style with River Island’s white beanie featuring a gold chain trim.

If a fully monochrome ensemble is too intimidating, a quick coat of white nail polish can easily keep a look on trend. Regardless of shade or usage, white is a bold way to brighten up the darkest of winter days while still appearing elegant and sharp.

 Jolene Hsu is a contributing writer. Email her at

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