White is the perfect sunshine shade to take you from spring to summer. The ideal backdrop to make other colours pop, it’s only fitting that we end our Colour Stories blog series with a long, cool look at icy white.
White has a long rep for symbolising virtue, innocence and loyalty: the favoured colour of Roman togas and worn by faiths all around the world.
An official colour of the feminist movement, white was worn by the suffragettes as they pressured for the vote, and “pantsuit aficionado” Hillary Clinton often donned pristine white trouser suits while on the campaign trail. Earlier this year, Democrat women wore snowy tones to “unite against any attempts by the Trump administration to roll back the incredible progress women have made in the last century.”
Perhaps the most famous example of wearing white – for your wedding dress – was popularised by Queen Victoria at her nuptials in 1840. However, it wasn’t just to symbolise the blushing bride’s chastity. Throughout the 18th and 19th centuries, women who could afford to wear a dress for just one day – and one they were very unlikely to scrub afterwards themselves – wore white bridal gowns to parade their wealth and status. It’s often the richest echelons – we’re thinking Georgian powdered wigs, Regency frocks and even Liz Hurley’s white jeans- who wear the palest shades.
Hollywood stars like Lauren Bacall and Grace Kelly paired classic white shirts with wide skirts and a nipped-in belt, while Diane Keaton in Annie Hall and rocker Patti Smith slung them on for androgynous hipster-cool.
Despite its virginal air, white can be pretty sexy, too – we’re thinking Marilyn Monroe’s slinky halterneck (famously worn over a breezy grate), emulated ever since by starlets from Angelina Jolie to Gwyneth Paltrow, who wore a Calvin Klein slip dress to the 1996 Oscars.
Sew the look
- Dungarees are still the coolest – sew Named’s Ronja dungarees in pearl-white denim.
- Fix up look sharp in Thread Theory’s feminine twist on the classic white shirt.
- Make like Gwynnie in a Nineties-tastic spaghetti-strap slip dress with this Burda design.
- This linen blend has an Audrey Hepburn vibe and this season’s passion for polka dots.
Like this? Check these out…
- Take a trip back in time with our fashion history series, from the 90s to the 1900s.
- Give your me-made wardrobe a colour boost with our Colour Stories collection.
- Use your sewing machine like a pro with our sewing machine skills series.
Katie Allen is a writer, content editor and crafter based in London. She is the author of craft book Just Sew Stories and also runs ethical clothing business Plum. She loves reading, writing and all things kitty. Follow her at @KatieFQ. Photo copyright Leonie Morse.
Main image: Peony by Colette Patterns.