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5 Mistakes You're Making When Wearing White, According to Stylists

It's chic when done right and disastrous when done wrong.

White is a go-to color for many, especially in the summer. Wear it in the form of a linen sundress or a crisp white button-down, and you'll appear instantly polished and ready for a day in the sun. But as everyone knows, white has its drawbacks. For one, it stains easily—so while you may have the chicest outfit at your backyard BBQ, you might also be nervous to get too close to the ketchup station. Then, there's the fact that it can be difficult to pair with undergarments—and no one wants to advertise their undies to the world! Those issues are just the tip of the iceberg. Here, personal stylists share the biggest mistakes people make when they wear white and the simple things you can do to avoid them.

RELATED: 7 Ways to Dress Classy Over 60, Stylists Say.

You choose a see-through garment.

A middle-aged blonde woman wearing a white dress crouches down on a rocky part of the beach
Rus Limon / Shutterstock

"Is my dress see-through?" It's a common question asked in fitting rooms everywhere. However, you'd be surprised how many transparent pieces make it out of the store in shopping bags.

"Come out of the changing room when trying things on and get someone to check in daylight," advises Michelle Barrett, stylist and founder of Capsule Closet Stylist. "The lights in a changing room are made to flatter you, so always look in different lighting."

If you put your hand under the material and can see the outline through it, it may be on the sheer side. You should also check to see that the pockets don't show through the item, which can cheapen the look.

"Always choose quality over quantity in this area," Barrett says. One pair of well-made linen trousers beats three transparent pairs any day.

You wear white undergarments.

bra selection
Svetlana Chugaeva/Shutterstock

It might seem like a smart idea to pair a white T-shirt with a white bra, but stylists say it's one of the biggest mistakes you can make. The reason is that the white bra will create a contrast with your skin, which will show through the garment.

"For undergarments, wear nude only—never white—to ensure your unmentionables stay unmentioned," says Elizabeth Kosich, certified image stylist and founder of Elizabeth Kosich Styling.

As a bonus, the bra will likely work with every other color of clothing you have, too.

RELATED: 6 Tips for Wearing Flats If You're Over 60, According to Stylists and Podiatrists.

You choose the wrong white for you.


There isn't just one color of white—the hue exists on a spectrum. So, like any color, you'll want to find the best shade for you.

"While optic white seems to be a go-to shade, it actually looks good on very few people," says Kosich. "Instead, try soft white for the most flattering hue—it's lower contrast, less harsh, and harmonizes with the whites of our eyes."

You can also analyze your undertones to find your perfect white, explains Barrett. "If you are cool skin toned, then wear a bluer white, and if you are warm skin toned, choose a white closer to ivory," she says.

A good way to determine your undertone is to look at the inside of your wrist: if your veins are blue, you're likely cool; if they're green, you're likely warm. "If you are not sure, hold different white items together in the shop or at home, and you will see the difference," Barrett says.

You under accessorize.

Portrait of an adult elderly self-confident woman with white hair looking awey into distance in white shirt hands crossed background wall

White is a simple color. And while that's great for many reasons, Kosich notes that it can also skew blah if you don't style it appropriately.

"Think of your summer whites as a blank canvas for accessories that add color, flair, and fun," she says. "Think metallics in statement jewelry, sandals, or a tote bag, or consider ballerina flats, a belt, or a crossbody bag in a pop of color, print, or pattern."

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You never replace your whites.

white men's shirts hang on the shoulders in the closet

White stains easily, whether you're spilling drinks on it or simply sweating. That means the pieces you wear frequently, like tank tops, T-shirts, and your favorite white frock, are likely to have a short shelf life.

"After that, they start looking tired, soiled, and discolored," says Kosich.

She says you might even need to replace them every summer. However, you can look at it like an investment: "When you freshen up the rotation, you freshen up your look, which makes it worth it!"

Juliana LaBianca
Juliana is an experienced features editor and writer. Read more
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