Flash To White

April 28, 2011 • Magazine, Male Box

“Fade to black” is the traditional indicator of a change of scene in a movie script. As we transition into spring from winter, I propose that we “flash to white” in the live action dramas that are our fashionable lives. For months now, I’ve been warning all of you that white is the new black and that we can – indeed, must – find ways to weave it through not only our summer but also our early spring wardrobes. Some of you have just smiled politely, ignored my exhortations, and hoped I’d go away and forget about it altogether. You “Rules” (fashion rules – not the dating ones!) readers out there have shot right back at me crying foul. “I can’t wear white before Labor Day!” “White makes me look fat!” “White gets so dirty right away!” Blah, blah, blah… Well, I say being stylish means making your own rules – sometimes, not all the time.

I grew up in California wearing white all year round. When I moved to Boston, my “proper” New England friends informed me that I could only wear white between Memorial and Labor Days. I tried it one year and the next year I decided to wear white pants on Easter Sunday and continued to wear white until Memorial Day. I got a few crooked looks, but, overall, the multitude of compliments on my emerging personal style far outweighed any potential embarrassment over breaking a “rule”.

As for the inverse of the fashion maxim that “black is slimming”, I advise that everything – even fashion – is better in moderation. I don’t expect that those of you who live in all black will suddenly jump on this season’s white hot trend, but you might at least try with one article of clothing – or even an accessory – in white. As for you messy eaters/drinkers out there, here’s a newsflash… Those fastidious people who judge you on your neatness can spot bagel crumbs and coffee stains on a black shirt just as easily as on a white one. If you’re careful about your appearance, you can wear any color you like.

Whew – now that all those silly myths are out of the way, let’s get down to pulling key pieces from online retailers so you can Flash to White!

For those of you who are not afraid to take on a trend head first, I suggest you go pick up a new little white dress. Send your LBD’s to the cleaners – and seasonal storage – and learn to rely on your new best friend –the LWD! Every accessory you own will look new and fresh against a white backdrop. Girlie girls will love the flirty and feminine Amelie dress from Marc by Marc Jacobs with its white-on-white floral print. Traditionalists will love Ralph Lauren’s Hilda dress from the Black Label collection. The classic shirt dress is updated for this season with a slightly flared skirt and ¾ length sleeves, the better to feature a wide brown leather belt and wooden bracelets a l’Afrique or better yet the season’s best pop color accents. If you dare to go bare, you’ll want the Damia dress from the season’s most highly anticipated collection, Theyskin’s Theory. Fans of Theyskins will recall his brief stint at Nina Ricci creating the “young” high fashion looks made famous years later by newly single actresses ranging from Reese Witherspoon who chose to wear yellow on the red carpet after breaking up with Ryan Philippe to Halle Berry who chose sheer and barely there black for her first red carpet foray after breaking up with Gabriel Aubry. Die hard fans of Monsieur Theyskins recall his glorious work for the House of Rochas where he pledged to “stop global vulgarity” and steadfastly refused to design a marketable accessory line. You have to love a designer who would rather be fired than be responsible for another “it bag”!

If you’re still not convinced to try an all white look, then at least try changing one item of your outfit over. Channel your inner Bianca Jagger from the Studio 54 days with a Halston Heritage crepe blazer. Use it to replace your go-to Helmut Lang jean jacket and you’ll come to think of white as your new neutral for the season. If you tend to layer your look, consider building up from my favorite tank for the season, the white leopard burnout jersey tank top from Adidas by Stella McCartney. It’ll be your instant favorite and – who knows – perhaps come summer you’ll be sporting it all by itself!

The skirt is another layer of an outfit that you should consider in white. I will agree that a flat field of white will appear larger in person than it really is – and even more so in photos. To avoid this scenario with a skirt, choose one that is draped or otherwise textured. My favorite this season is Thakhoon’s asymmetrically ruffled pencil skirt in cotton blend twill. It’s actually pretty rare that I like a skirt from an American designer. For some reason, I have always felt that the French are simply much better at designing them, but this one is worth noting.

By now you’re probably asking yourself, “when is he going to get to the white accessories?” Well, first off, if you’ve been following me and paying attention, then you have already collected the season’s hottest pop color bags and they’ll go perfectly with your new white items. I wouldn’t really suggest acquiring a white bag as your expression of this latest fashion trend. It – and you – will just get lost in the crowd. Shoes, however, are another story entirely. I love the mix of neutrals with white and Christian Louboutin’s latest offering, the Madame Propre slingback sandal is the very height (quite literally – at 5.5 inches!) of spring/summer chic. For the art lovers among you, the line between shoes and sculpture is truly blurred with Alexander McQueen’s sculpted resin and leather sandals. They cost about one mortgage payment on your basic million dollar Manhattan one-bedroom, but wouldn’t you rather support “the arts”?

This Easter, I was proudly sporting a white Prada cotton blazer and I will not think twice about wearing white between Easter and Memorial Day. I hope I’ve given you the confidence to follow suit. If anyone dares to call you out, blame it on “fashion” in general, or me, in particular, if you must.

1. Marc by Marc Jacobs Amelie Floral-print Cotton Dress $400
2. Ralph Lauren Black Label Hilda Cotton Shirt Dress $800
3. Theyskens’ Theory Damia Double-Layered Crepe Dress $660
4. Halston Heritage Crepe Blazer $395
5. Adidas by Stella McCartney Run Leopard-burnout Jersey Tank $85
6. Thakoon Ruffled Cotton-blend Twill Skirt $670
7. Mrs Propre 140 Leather Slingback Sandals $995
8. Alexander McQueen Sculpted Resin and Leather Sandals $3495

—Joseph Ungoco

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