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Style SOS: Can I wear white this winter?

Style SOS: Can I wear white this winter?

"I've noticed a few guys wearing white this season, but I always heard you aren't supposed to wear it after summer. Is this a myth?" - Leo, via Instagram

We don't blame you for not wanting to pack away your whites this winter – they're versatile, easy to style, and lend a cool, clean sensibility to any look. Tucking them away in the attic for an entire season seems like a waste of a perfectly good colour – no matter how iron-clad a style rule is.  

The one you're likely referring to is the American rule that advises against wearing white after Labor Day. This tradition stems from a time when wealthy women would retire their lightweight, holiday clothing and return to their heavier, darker city wardrobes – thus marking the end of summer for high society. Our stance when it comes to any style rule – especially ones that pre-date the invention of sliced bread – is they can (and often should) be broken, as long as you do so with consideration.

Hardworking essentials, like white tees, trainers, and denim, can easily be incorporated into your winter wardrobe. The trick is offsetting them with darker shades and heavier winter clothing. Because in reality, the only argument for not wearing white in winter is practicality. White linen trousers, for instance, won't keep you warm on an icy day, so they're better reserved for warm-weather months. A white fisherman knit or hoodie, on the other hand, will invite the bright shade into your look without compromising your body heat. 

“We wear white in summer because it’s heat reflective, and it works with other seasonal shades like pastels, but white also goes well with wintery tones and looks great under heavy coats,” says stylist Freddie Kemp. “We’re seeing more and more style ‘rules’ being broken down, like casualwear for all occasions and cord in summer, so there’s really no right or wrong when it comes to seasonal colours.”

If you’re willing accept that incorporating a summery shade won't stop the changing of seasons, then there’s no reason not to keep rocking white year round. Of course, you might risk an encounter with a muddy puddle while sporting white trousers or perfect white trainers, so be sure to check the forecast. “Try to be proactive in planning your white winter outfits,” Freddie says. “If it’s wet on the ground, you might risk staining white outfits, so look for a week that’s set to be dry and use that as your time to experiment with lighter shades. It’s a case of being a little more aware of your surroundings – so check for gum before you sit down on the train.”

Luckily, not all white clothing looks its best when its pristine, so they might actually look better post-puddle jumping. White Converse, for example, only get better with age, so don’t be too quick to throw your whites in the wash. White also loses its colour quicker than most other shades, so for knitwear and tops that you do want to keep looking sharp, try to rinse out stains immediately and avoid over-washing.

Feeling ready to break the rules? Then ditch the outdated fashion ‘don’ts’, and apoint white your winter colour. Just be extra careful if you have a habit of spilling red wine. 


Words: Ella White
Illustration: Ryan Gillett