There was a period in fashion several years back when fashion dictators and magazines advised that every women should have white T shirts and white collared shirts as basic layering components in their wardrobes. No mention was ever made of the fact that the kind of white most of us think of and that is most commonly available, a true white, might not flatter all of us equally well. No mention was ever made that the play of white against black might have too much contrast for some. This was just another one of the one-size-fits-all blanket rules we can all find on the runway and in fashion magazines in any given fashion season.
While I believe there is some form of white that will flatter everyone, pure white or snow white can be too bright, too sharp, too cold, or too distracting on a great many people. If you’ve looked at someone who has had their teeth whitened too white for their natural coloring, you have experienced the disconnect that results from that. Something seems a bit off and attention is drawn unaturally to the teeth at the detriment of the rest of the face that surrounds them. Most dentists will discourage a patient from demanding a white that is too white for their face…..but not all.
A snow white looks best on someone with a cool skin tone. A “vanilla ice cream” white looks good on a great many people as it is fairly neutral. A “cream” white looks good on someone with a warmer skin tone. An “ecru” or “antique” white is wonderful on people with darker warm skin.
White, because it is light, will tend to advance and therefore visually enlarge the part of the body on which it is worn. This illusion can be used to one’s advantage when dressing to balance uneven proportions.
Next time you are in a store, select a variety of white colored tops and carry them to a mirror. Place them under your face and notice the effect it has on your skin and how it integrates with your overall look. Look for shades like, snow, cream, vanilla ice cream, oyster (slightly grayed), ecru, antique, and bone.
White carries the connotation of cleanliness, formality, and innocence. In warm climates it makes us feel cool. It goes with virtually all colors and it can be bleached to revive its whiteness. But if the white top you have is too white for you, you might just consider throwing it into a batch of dark laundry. That might be just what it needs to tone it down.